No power? Can't leave your home? Here are ways to make it through the heat after Hurricane Beryl

Rosie Nguyen Image
Wednesday, July 10, 2024
No power? Can't leave your home? Ways to make it through the heat
Families left their homes to seek relief after Beryl knocked out their power. But others might not have a choice but to stay at home in the heat.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Hurricane Beryl may be in the rearview mirror for the Greater Houston area. However, according to health experts, there is still a danger facing our communities as 1.5 million CenterPoint Energy customers remained without power Tuesday evening.

Temperatures quickly bounced back to the 90s on Monday afternoon after the Category 1 storm cleared up, leaving people without air conditioning susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

According to Dr. Kevin Lanza, who teaches environmental health science for UT Health Houston School of Public Health, extreme heat causes the highest amount of deaths in the U.S. out of all weather-related hazards.

"It's an invisible killer if people take it for granted," Lanza said.

Not even 24 hours after their power went out, Brianna Guerrero and her family couldn't bear the extreme heat at their home in the Spring/Woodlands area. It prompted them to drive to downtown Houston and get some relief at Discovery Green.

"Our area is a dead zone. We don't have cell signal, and we couldn't receive calls or texts. We drove through complete darkness until we got to downtown Houston. At the moment, we're here trying to charge our electronics, wait it out, and see if we can get any updates from CenterPoint," Guerrero said. "We hope we get our power soon, 'cause I don't know if I can go another day like this."

However, if you don't have the means to leave the house or go to a cooling center, there are steps you can take to keep yourself as cool as possible while you wait for crews to restore your power.

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Lanza said it's important to stay hydrated, specifically with water.

"Even though there are some cooling drinks, such as cold coffee, cold brews, alcoholic drinks, and energy drinks, those are actually diuretics, and they can dehydrate you. The major way that our body cools itself off is through the evaporation of sweat. If you don't have enough body fluids to sweat, you can increase your risk for heat-related illnesses," Lanza said.

Another tip Lanza shared is staying on the bottom floor of your home if it's a multi-story unit since heat tends to rise. You can also cover up your windows to block the heat and keep the temperature cooler. If you have a battery-powered fan, run it behind a wet curtain or towel to increase the wind chill effect in your home.

Experts recommend checking on those more vulnerable to the heat, such as children or older populations. Look for red flags that could indicate the need for medical attention, such as a heat rash, muscle spasms, or heat cramps.

"If that progresses, that could lead to heat exhaustion. That's when you would have profuse sweating, potentially dizziness, and nausea. It could lead to vomiting," Lanza said. "If you're unable to cool yourself off, then it could lead to heat stroke, which could cause neurological problems such as agitation, confusion, or loss of consciousness."

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