Heat has been severely affecting Hays County. Heat indices have unexpectedly been between 108-114, which can make day-to-day routines difficult to comprehend. During these dog days, it’s important to be cautious and take safety precautions to prevent a misadventure to occur.
On June 20, ERCOT issued a voluntary conservation notice. Due to extreme temperatures, ERCOT was asking Texans to voluntarily reduce electricity use. This voluntary conservation notice took effect between 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
Texas is experiencing very high temperatures for an extended period which creates a great deal of demand for electricity as residents are doing what they can to stay cool. Although this is all voluntary, this conservation is a widely used tool to help lower demand for a specific period of demand time. Thermal generation power plant outages are higher than normal, which creates a major loss in energy.
A heat wave can create a dangerous situation to humans and to pets. Heat can cause a person to overheat and can even be fatal. According to the Texas State Environmental, Health, Safety, Risk and Emergency Management Department, the body is constantly working to make sure a consistent internal temperature is being produced. When the body temperature starts to increase, it will release excess heat in the form of sweat and circulate more blood to the skin to help the body cool off.
Older adults, children and sick or overweight individuals are at greater risk from extreme heat. People who are dehydrated due to not drinking enough water or binging on alcoholic or caffeinated drinks can increase their chances of developing heat illnesses. Individuals who have heart conditions, high blood pressure, fatigue, fever, poor physical health, obesity, mental illness, poor circulation and/or sunburn are also at greater risk. Prescription drugs can also increase the threat of heat illnesses.
Extreme heat exposure can cause four primary forms of heat illnesses which include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
|Heat-Related Illness||Symptoms and Signs||Treatment|
|Heat Rash occurs when exposed to too much heat. This causes the skin to become irritated due to excessive sweating, particularly during humid times when moisture cannot evaporate well.||
||· Move to a cooler environment.
· Keep area dry and do not wash with water unless it is immediately toweled.
|Heat Cramps are cramps or muscle spasms that are felt in the abdomen, arms, and legs. They usually occur in conjunction with strenuous activity. They occur when depletion of the body’s salt and fluids through excessive sweating and can also lead to heat exhaustion.||
||· Stop activity and rest in a cool place.
· Replenish with a sports drink, juice, or electrolytes to replace the fluids and salts.
· DO NOT take a salt pill unless directed by a doctor.
· Seek medical attention if you are on a low-sodium diet.
· Continuing to work too soon puts you at serious risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
· Rest for several hours after the heat cramps have gone away.
· Seek medical attention if the heat cramps have not subsided within one hour of resting.
|Heat Exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to regulate its internal temperature. It can occur after several days of exposure to high temperatures and not replacing fluids and salts sufficiently, which means it can take place at the beginning of a shift, even if not much has been done that day or the temperature does not seem unreasonable.||
||· Stop working immediately and get somewhere much cooler or even take a cool shower or bath.
· Drink cool beverages that are nonalcoholic.
· Remove heavy or tight-fitting clothing, change into something lightweight and airy.
· Wait several hours after the symptoms subside before returning to activities.
· Seek medical attention, if the symptoms get worse during treatment or if they last longer than one hour.
· Ignoring treatment can lead to more severe heat stroke.
|Heat stroke is the most serious form of heat illness and is considered a medical emergency. Heat stroke may occur, but not always, as a progression from milder heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat syncope, and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke can kill or cause damage to the brain or other internal organs.||
||· Quickly get the victim to a cool place, even if it is under a shady area, and call 911.
· Do whatever you can to cool the person down quickly, dousing them in water.
· Maintain efforts to cool them until help arrives or their temperature drops down to 101°F or lower.
· If medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital for further instructions.
On June 23, ERCOT issued a weather watch from June 25-30 due to forecasting higher temperatures and extreme demand for electrical usage. Grid conditions are expected to be stable, but operating reserves may be affected due to conditions. ERCOT encourages everyone to sign up for grid condition notifications through the Texas Advisory and Notifications System (TXANS). https://www.ercot.com/txans.
For more information on heat-related illnesses, check out:
Written by: Preethi Mangadu