It took a concerted effort, but a thermometer aimed right at the sun during the height of Thursday’s heat registered nearly120 degrees. Daily Record photo by Gerald Castillo
Heat, traffic add stress to weekend
National, state and local authorities have issued warnings regarding the dangerous heat Central Texas is experiencing. The record-breaking temperatures are expected to last through the weekend, and coincide with a river tubing and music festival that is expected to add thousands of vehicles to some local roadways.
The National Weather Service has put the entire Central Texas area on alert, with temperatures along the Interstate 35 corridor expected to top out at 103 to 107 degrees this weekend, conditions that can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke in people with prolonged exposure.
“Take extra precautions if you must work or spend time outside,” the NWS warns. “Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing, drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks, preferably in an air conditioned area. When possible reschedule strenuous activities during the morning and evening hours.”
The heat wave is already causing local problems.
Dr. Vard Curtis, an emergency room physician at Central Texas Medical Center, said “a couple of” patients have sought treatment for heat exhaustion this week, characterizing them as people who are “typically working outside and not drinking enough” water.
So far, he said, everyone has had a good outcome. “We’ve been able to get them hydrated and cooled off.”
Curtis said the biggest thing for people to keep in mind over the coming days is to respect the heat and pay attention to liquids going in and coming out of their bodies. “Pay attention to your urine output,” he said, noting that people should urinate at least five to six times a day and the urine should be “somewhat clear … not dark or strong yellow or brown, which are all signs of dehydration.”
He stressed that the same advice goes for children, pets and the elderly. “They all have the same risk,” he said, and are similarly subject to dehydration.
Elderly folks, Curtis emphasized, need to be particularly careful. “We have had a couple of elderly people that have come in weak and dizzy after spending too much time outside. It only takes a little time in this heat.”
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include feeling faint or dizzy, excessive sweating, a rapid, weak pulse and muscle cramps. Curtis said those symptoms can usually be managed at home by drinking fluids and cooling off.
“If it gets to the point you start vomiting you need to come to the ER and get cooled off, you can get dehydrated very quickly.”
He said it’s time to call 911 if someone is experiencing “altered mentation, acting confused and unsure about where they are … not making sense. That’s called heat stroke and can be life threatening and can progress very rapidly. Any type of confusion or altered mental state should necessitate a call to an ambulance.”
Regarding Float Fest, organizers are permitted for 20,000 attendees each day this weekend. Catherine Garza of giantnoise.com, who is doing publicity for the fest, said extra steps are being taken because of the heat.
“There is a designated water area at the entrance of the main festival grounds with multiple water filling stations,” she said.
“There are also multiple filling stations throughout the camping grounds. Float Fest has also added shaded tents for festival goers to cool off.”
According to the NWS, the persistent heat wave will be around through at least the beginning of next week.
Temperatures are expected to remain above 100 degrees through Tuesday, possibly hitting just 100 degrees on Wednesday. There is also a 20 percent chance of a shower or thundershower on Tuesday.
Tuesday night is also expected to be cloudy, as opposed to the cloudless days the area has seen.