Beat the Heat! Stay safe in hot weather

05 Jul, 24

Dear friends, 

Climate change is impacting our lives every day, not just in Harris County but across the globe—making it one of the greatest challenges for people and the planet. That’s why Harris County and Precinct One are taking critical action in the global fight against climate change by:

  • adopting an internal Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution and emissions from county operations by 40 percent by 2030 and increase sustainability efforts;
  • developing a community-focused Climate Justice Action Plan that engages frontline, vulnerable communities and fosters a healthier, greener, and more resilient Harris County for all to call home;
  • leading a just energy transition and improving equitable access to nature, parks and greenspace, and infrastructure.

Extreme heat from climate change has quickly become one of the most widespread and dangerous impacts of climate change. We’re seeing it here in Harris County. Summers are getting longer, triple-digit heat is arriving earlier each year, and we all need to take precautions to stay safe in extreme heat. More than 300 Texans died from heat in 2023, the most since the state began tracking such deaths in 1989. In the U.S., extreme heat causes more deaths than any other weather hazard, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding.

We’ve put together resources and information to help you, your loved ones, neighbors, and pets beat the heat. You can also learn more at Harris County Public Health’s Extreme Heat & Health Hub and

Beat the Heat Tips:
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitted clothes and sunscreen.
  • Stay cool indoors in an air-conditioned environment.
  • Stay hydrated with plenty of fluids.
  • Seek shade and take breaks when spending time outside.
  • Check on neighbors, family, or friends who are at increased risk for heat-related illnesses, those who live alone, and those who are unhoused.
  • Never leave children, seniors, or pets unattended in cars.
  • Don’t leave pets outside.
  • Sign up for local alerts about weather, heat advisories, and cooling centers.
  • Know the warning signs of heat-related illnesses.

Learn About Heat-Related Illnesses

As we experience more extreme heat, it’s vitally important to be aware of the different types of heat-related illnesses that can occur when the body is unable to cool itself properly. Heat-related illnesses may be a life-threatening emergency—know the signs, be prepared to act fast, and seek medical help.

About Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Warning Signs of Heat Cramps: heavy sweating and muscle pains and spasms—usually in the arms, legs, or abdomen.

What to do for Heat Cramps: Stop all activity and move to a cool area. Drink water, clear juice, or a sports beverage. Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in one hour.

About Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion can develop after working or exercising outside or after several days of exposure to high temperatures without proper replacement and balance of fluids.

Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion: heavy sweating; nausea or vomiting; muscle cramps; fainting; weakness; cool and moist skin; dizziness; fast and weak pulse; headache; and/or fast and shallow breathing.

What to do for Heat Exhaustion: Act fast and move to a cool area. Loosen clothing, sip cool water or nonalcoholic beverages, and take a cool shower or bath. Seek medical help if symptoms don’t improve.

About Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that needs immediate medical attention. Heat stroke occurs when the body temperature rises quickly, sweating does not occur, and the body is unable to cool down on its own. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10-15 minutes.

Warning Signs of Heat Stroke: very high temperature (>103º); nausea; red, hot, and dry skin; confusion; fast, strong pulse; unconsciousness; dizziness; and/or throbbing headache.

What to do for Heat Stroke: Call 911, act fast, and move to a cooler area. Cool body with water or ice to bring the person’s temperature down. Loosen clothing and remove extra layers. Do NOT give any fluids to drink.


Learn More About Heat Advisories and Cooling Centers

During the heat of the day, people who don't have access to air conditioning should seek air-conditioned spaces at multi-service centers, libraries, malls, movie theaters, or a relative’s home when possible. When our region is experiencing extreme heat, the City of Houston, Harris County, and community partners operate cooling centers across our region.

Sign up to receive alerts about cooling centers and heat advisories at:

For up-to-date information on cooling centers and to find one nearby, visit:
City of Houston Cooling Centers
Harris County Cooling Centers

You can also enter your zip code into the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Local HeatRisk tool to learn about the heat risk in your area and actions you can take to stay safe.

Harris County and Precinct One are committed to preparing for and protecting our communities from extreme heat and other impacts of climate change, but it will take all of us working together and staying vigilant. Please take steps to beat the heat and stay safe in hot weather—stay hydrated, sign up for alerts, check on your neighbors and loved ones, and know the signs of heat illness.


Rodney Ellis