Beat the Heat centers open in Houston

June 3, 2011 4:38:58 PM PDT
A hot weekend is ahead with dangerous heat and humidity. Today, temperatures will climb back into the high 90s after Houston hit 100 degrees yesterday -- the earliest it's ever been that hot here. Reliant Energy is opening its cooling centers around town, and offering assistance for those who may have trouble with their summer electric bills. The city of Houston Health Department has 10 multi-service centers available across the city as Beat the Heat Centers. They're open every day starting Thursday from 8am to 5pm.

"The heat in Houston, in the summer with no air, you know that it's very hot," said Judy Harris with Houston's Department of Health and Human Services. "Take advantage of it, not only just to get out of the heat, but also the socialization. You can go to a center and be around other people and pass the day talking to people and not just being home alone by yourself in the heat."

Each center has a program for providing children with lunch and an afternoon snack. Residents can call 311 for assistance locating the center closest to them.

  • Acres Homes Multi-Service Center, 6719 W. Montgomery, 77091 - 713-694-9274
  • Denver Harbor Multi-Service Center, 6402 Market Street, 77020 - 713-670-2143
  • Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center, 4014 Market Street, 77020 - 832-393-3800
  • Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center, 3810 West Fuqua, 77045 - 832-393-4200
  • Kashmere Multi-Service Center, 4802 Lockwood, 77026 - 832-393-5503
  • Southwest Multi-Service Center, 6400 High Star, 77074 - 713-778-6500
  • Sunnyside Multi-Service Center, 4605 Wilmington Street, 77051 - 713-732-5030
  • Third Ward Multi-Service Center, 3611 Ennis Street, 77004 - 713-527-4005
  • West End Multi-Service Center, 170 Heights Blvd, 77007 - 713-803-1050
  • Magnolia Multi-Service Center, 7037 Capitol Street, 77011 - 713-928-9515
  • McGuire-Dent Recreation & Fitness Center, 2222 28th Street Galveston, TX 77550
  • Wright Cuney Recreation Center, 718 41st Street Galveston, TX 77550

Reliant Energy provides assistance during the summer for customers whose bills become so high they cannot afford to pay the entire thing at once. Other energy providers also often provide some type of assistance program.

The Houston Department of Health and Human Services recommends people begin taking precautions against high heat and humidity to prevent illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Doctors say the elderly and children are most at risk for heat-related illnesses. That is why some parents and coaches say they are keeping a close watch on children, especially those involved in outdoor activities.

"Every 15 minutes, we take a water break for the kids so we don't dehydrate," said football coach Dan Jackson. "We are out here doing drills and hitting and tackling. We don't want anyone to dehydrate and muscles tighten up or anybody get hurt."

To prevent heat-related illnesses:

  • Increase water consumption. Drink lots of liquids even before getting thirsty, but avoid those with caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar because these can actually result in the loss of body fluid.
  • Conduct outdoor work or exercise in the early morning or evening when it is cooler. Outdoor workers should drink plenty of water or electrolyte-replacement beverages and take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned facility. People unaccustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment need to start slowly and gradually increase heat exposure over several weeks.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing that permits the evaporation of perspiration.
  • Do not leave children, senior citizens or pets unattended in a vehicle.
  • A wide-brimmed hat helps prevent sunburn as well as heat-related illness. Sunscreen also protects from the sun's harmful rays and reduces the risk of sunburn.
  • If the house is not air-conditioned, seek accommodations in air-conditioned facilities during the heat of the day: multi-service centers, malls, movie theaters, libraries, etc.
  • Take frequent cool baths or showers if your home is not air-conditioned.

Stay alert to heat advisories. The National Weather Service declares a Heat Emergency when the heat index, a computation of the air temperature and humidity, reaches 108 degrees on two or more consecutive days. A heat index of 108 is a potential health threat for all people and is particularly dangerous for high-risk groups.

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