DPS warns Texans of safety concerns in summer heat

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is reminding Texans to take extra safety precautions as temperatures and heat indices continue to reach 100 degrees and above in many parts of the state.

“We have already experienced extreme heat in most parts of the state this summer, and DPS wants to remind all Texans that the dangers from sustained high temperatures should not be taken lightly,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Heat-related injuries and deaths are often preventable if we take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others.”

Extreme temperatures place children at greater risk of injury or death if left unattended in a vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, temperatures inside a car can rise more than 20 degrees in only 10 minutes. Even with an outside temperature of 60 degrees, the temperature inside a car can reach 110 degrees.

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Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of non-crash-related fatalities among children, and every year, children die from heat-related injuries after being left in a vehicle or by entering a vehicle unnoticed. Leaving windows partially rolled down does not help. A child should never be left unattended in a vehicle.

Additionally, extreme heat events or heat waves are one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Periods of severe heat and high humidity tax the body’s ability to cool itself and can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal.

DPS offers the following tips for staying safe and managing the heat:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day even if you do not feel thirsty; you may not realize you’re dehydrated until it’s too late. Also avoid alcohol and beverages high in caffeine or sugar during periods of prolonged outdoor exposure.
  • Pay attention to your body. Heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke can develop quickly. Know the warning signs and seek medical attention if necessary.
  • Check on others, especially the elderly, sick, very young and those without air conditioning.
  • Don’t forget pet safety. Animals are also susceptible to heat-related injury or death – don’t put your pets in these dangerous conditions.
  • Monitor local weather updates and stay aware of any upcoming changes in weather.
  • Limit exposure to the sun and stay indoors as much as possible. If possible, avoid strenuous outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day.
  • Light-colored, loose-fitting clothing and a hat are recommended while spending time outdoors.
  • Wear sunscreen. Sunburns can affect your body’s ability to cool down. Protect yourself during periods of sun exposure by putting on sunscreen SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going outside.
  • Be extra careful when cooking outdoors, building campfires or driving off-road to avoid igniting dry vegetation. Also, stay aware of burn bans in your area and always abide by restrictions on outside burning.

The National Weather Service website provides additional information and tips for staying safe during periods of extreme heat.

For more information on how to prepare for extreme heat, visit ready.gov.

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