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These tips ensure that everyone safely enjoys — not just endures — another San Antonio summer

Sun and clouds
Jerry Clayton
Sun and clouds

The summer heat has arrived in San Antonio, and with it comes a wide range of health risks to both humans and animals.

But the city, TPR and NPR collectively offer a wide range of solutions to endure the heat and its dangers so everyone can safely enjoy warm weather activities.

Review the FAQ below for some useful tips. Some are common sense. Some are things most Texans do already. Nevertheless, it's worth taking a moment to ensure that everyone in your life adheres to these safe and healthy routines throughout the summer months.

I looked at the forecast, and the temperatures look extreme. What should I do first?

For yourself, take cool showers. Always wear light-colored clothing. Drink plenty of water, and stay cool with spray bottles.

If you're working outside, stay hydrated. Take rest breaks in the shade or a cool location.

Those most at risk during the extreme heat are adults over 65, kids, and pets. So check on elderly relatives, friends and neighbors to ensure they are keeping cool too.

For pets that are usually outside, leave them plenty of fresh water—add ice if possible—and ensure they have well-ventilated shelter away from the heat. Keep in mind that the usual doghouse can be dangerous in the summertime.

San Antonio residents are no stranger to high temperatures and humidity in the summer, but the city is seeing more triple-digit days.According to recent…

How do I know if older adults or kids are in trouble?

NPR explained that "warning signs of heat exhaustion include fatigue, extreme thirst, nausea, headache, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, muscle cramping and just a general sense of lightheadedness. The warning signs for heatstroke ... include all the above but also confusion, vomiting, seizures, cardiovascular collapse or passing out and a lack of sweating."

If an older adult or child exhibits any of these signs, cool the child rapidly with cool water— not an ice bath—and call 911 immediately.

Also, people who take drugs for blood pressure issues may also be at risk for heat related illnesses, so keep an eye on them too.

Check with your doctor about particular drugs and health conditions that may pose extra issues during hotter months. And don't leave your prescriptions in the car on hot days.

We asked: How have you coped with extreme heat when there was no air-conditioning? Here's a sampling of tips along with advice from heat wave researcher Gulrez Shah Azhar, who grew up in India's heat.

How do I know if pets are in trouble?

Pets most at risk from overheating include young, elderly or overweight pets, those with a short muzzle or those with thick or dark-colored coats.

NPR added that pets with "flat or pushed-in faces, like pugs or Persian cats, may [also] have extra trouble managing heat."

Heat stress warning signs include excessive thirst, heavy panting, glazed eyes, vomiting, lethargy, dizziness, or rapid heartbeat.

NPR advises to check their temperature rectally. If above 105 degrees, try to slowly lower their body temperature down to 103. Run cool water over them, apply cool towels—cool—NOT cold— or let them lick ice cubes. Fan them too. Don't rush the process.

Also, check with your vet if your pet really needs that summer haircut. The fur coats on some breeds actually protect them from the sun. Ask about pet-specific sunscreen too.

Texas is already breaking heat records this year, and if you're feeling the heat, so are your pets.

How else can we keep pets safe in hot weather?

Keep in mind that it is illegal for dogs to ride unsecured in the back of trucks, and these pets face the same heat stroke risks as pets locked in cars. They’re also at risk of burned paws and accidental falls during transport.

Also, NPR points out that pets should be kept off hot asphalt because they can burn their paws there too. Use the back of your hand to test how hot the pavement is. Limit dog walks to the early morning or in the evening. Consider using dog booties.

It seems sensible to take pets into lakes, a pool, or to the beach to cool off. But watch over them when around water. Most pets are not natural swimmers, and any pet can easily tire and drown.

Instead, NPR suggests providing them with a kiddie pool to splash in or a lawn sprinkler to run through. Or just douse them with water from a garden hose—once the water is running cold.

As climate change is making extreme heat events more common, these bright-eyed and bushy-tailed critters are 'splooting' to cope.

What if I see a child or pet locked in a car?

A shaded parking spot offers little to no protection on a sunny day, and cracking the window does very little to reduce the temperature inside a parked car. It takes only ten minutes for the interior of a car to reach 102 degrees on an average 85-degree day. In 30 minutes, the temperature can reach 120 degrees or more.

If you see a child or pet locked in a vehicle, jot down the vehicle’s description, including a license plate number, and call 911.

For pets, call Animal Care Services at 311.

How else can we help older adults dealing with the heat?

The United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County offers the 211-help line.

Seniors over 60 can call 211 to request a free boxed fan.

Other residents can also call to be directed to the nearest cooling center or receive resources on weatherization.

The help line is open 24/7. Spanish language and line language translation options are also available.

From Texas Standard : Temperatures this week fell a bit after a cold front pushed through the state Wednesday and Thursday, offering some relief from...

I'm not at home, and it's a really hot day. Does the city have places where I can cool off?

Cooling centers — including libraries, senior centers, and park community centers — are open for relief from the extreme heat. Find a list at SA.gov.

Other options can simply be any place inside: coffee shops, a movie theater, or one of the shopping malls.

What about risks of fire?

The San Antonio Fire Department fire safety tips are applicable year-round. The summer months also pose the risks of brush fires that can spread quickly.

First, smoke detectors should be installed in every room of the home. Remember to test all detectors to ensure they all work properly.

Next, ensure there are clear paths in the home so if there is a fire, firefighters can move swiftly through the rooms.

Always have a fire escape plan. Every room should have at least two escape routes.

Regularly check on vulnerable neighbors and relatives to ensure they are prepared too.

For more fire safety tips, visit firesafesa.com/safety-tips.

Also, vehicles are the source of some wildfires. Sparks from tire blowouts can trigger a roadside fire, so drivers should check the condition of tires before hitting the road.

What else should I know how the heat affects our lives?

Scientists continue to measure the intensifying degrees of punishment a warming world inflicts on our modern existence — internally and all around us.

For example, they've learned that the prevalence of gun violence rises alongside the temperatures. The extreme heat can also affect mental health, including intensifying mood disorders, leaving us stressed, worn down or depressed.

Academic teams are developing better understandings of urban heat islands, particularly in lower income parts of San Antonio, and how they diminish the quality of life for residents.

Unsheltered people are among the residents most vulnerable to the relentless heat waves and its physiological effects. Community outreach workers are reaching out to unsheltered populations as the heat increases. The number of their heat-related illnesses — and their calls for medical assistance — always increase as the heat worsens.

And political leaders have advocated for federal mail carriers who need vehicles with air conditioning and free water bottles so they can safely complete their routes and their duties for our lives and businesses.

Heat domes are often the reason for long stretches of dangerous days of heat. In June 2024, NPR published a useful explainer on the science behind heat domes.

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