As the first heat wave of summer rolls into the area, East Texans may find themselves at high risk of heat-related illness or death.
East Texas will be under a heat advisory through 7 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures at 7 a.m. Wednesday were already 10 degrees warmer than average with 90 percent humidity before the heat wave even hit, KYTX CBS19 Meteorologist Ashley Kramlich said.
Temperatures for Thursday are expected to be largely the same.
“We’ll have a high of 93, but there’s a lot of moisture in place from recent heavy rainfall, which will increase the humidity and make it feel like 105,” she said.
Each year, more than 650 deaths are caused by heat in the U.S. About 94 percent of those deaths occur between May and September, according to information from the Tyler Fire Department.
The city of Tyler and Smith County have developed a heat response plan with the input of local organizations. East Texans can follow the area’s heat advisory plan, formulated by emergency response officials for tips on staying safe and cool, said Terrence Ates, director of community outreach for the Northeast Texas Public Health District.
“One of the things we advise is to go to large public locations, such as the mall, for example, or going to see a movie to get out of the heat,” Ates said. “Public places that have air conditioning (are options) for people to manage their body temperature if they are becoming overheated.”
Ates said it is important to remember to stay hydrated, but advised that hydration should start before going out into the heat.
“We just want to make sure that the public is staying as safe and as cautious and mindful as possible, since summer has arrived,” he said. “The temperature is going to be in the 90s or 100s for the next couple of months.”
The Tyler Fire Department said certain groups run a higher risk of illness or death from heat. Those groups include: the elderly, socially isolated individuals such as the homeless or homebound, physically disabled people and those with other chronic medical conditions, infants and people on medications, such as neuroleptics and anticholinergics.
Fire Marshal Paul Findley said, while the heat plan has not been updated yet this summer, the information remains valid.
“As the temperatures continue to increase, we like to encourage people that if you don’t have to be in the heat, don’t, and if you do, limit your exposure as much as possible - then of course, hydrate,” Findley said.
Precautions residents can take include: alternating periods of work and rest and drinking plenty of fluid, especially water. Bottled water is available from The Salvation Army and PATH for those in need.
Greg Grubb, executive director of PATH, said residents in need should schedule an appointment with a caseworker as soon as possible. They also are in need of donations of box fans.
The Salvation Army currently has a supply of fans for those in need. Residents should speak with a caseworker for assistance.
Findley urged residents to stay inside in air-conditioned areas or out of the sun and check on relatives and neighbors who might be at risk. He also cautioned against leaving children or pets unattended or in vehicles.
“It’s a good idea this time of year if you have family members that live by themselves, to check on them frequently,” Findley said.
Residents can call the Tyler Police Department for welfare concerns, at 903-531-1000 or the Smith County Sheriff’s Office at 903-566-6600.