Austin city leaders held a press conference on June 21 to provide information on the city’s ongoing response to the excessive heat warning.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory on June 13 and upgraded to an excessive heat warning on June 15. Since then, Central Texas has experienced temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The heat advisory is expected to last for the next seven days, and the rest of this summer is forecast to have above normal temperatures for the region, NWS Meteorologist Bob Fogarty said.

Protecting people

Since April 1, Austin-Travis County EMS has determined that 166 heat-related incidents have occurred, with 92 of these occurring in June and 88 within the last two weeks as of June 21, said Robert Luckritz, chief of Austin-Travis County EMS.

As emergency calls are expected due to the weather, the 911 center will divert calls away from the system related to the heat to provide those callers resources without straining the 911 system, Lucktritz said.

“Austin-Travis County EMS is prepared and ready to respond,” Lucktritz said. “And we are prepared to tackle this like any other emergency that you may see.”

Cooling centers are available across the city in Austin Public Library branches as well as parks and recreation centers. In Travis County, community centers are also available as cooling centers.

Capital Metro is also offering free rides to cooling shelters. Passengers can board a bus and ask the driver to take them to a center.

Cooling centers are only open during business hours throughout the week. The city is monitoring the weather and may potentially extend these hours, Mayor Kirk Watson said.

The most vulnerable populations to the heat in Austin include children, the elderly, pregnant Texans, those with heart or lung conditions, and the unhoused, Austin Public Health Director Adrienne Sturrup said.

Precautions people can take to avoid heat-related illness include:
  • Staying hydrated by drinking water
  • Avoiding staying outside for long periods of time
  • Avoiding staying in a vehicle over 72 degrees, or leaving children or pets in vehicle
  • Taking breaks in shade if working outside
“Please keep an eye on your neighbors, the young and the most vulnerable,” Luckritz said. “If you do have a neighbor that you're worried about that does not have adequate resources to stay cool, you can contact Austin-Travis County EMS, and we will be able to assist you in providing resources for them that they may need.”

Symptoms of heat-related illness include:
  • Profuse sweating or suddenly not being able to sweat
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Pale and/or clammy skin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Altered mental status
Protecting pets

Pets should be monitored and kept hydrated, especially pets left outside or taken on walks. While walking a dog, monitor that the pavement is not burning a pet’s paws. Take caution to not leave a pet in a car, Watson said.

The city is waiving adoption fees for pets at the Austin Animal Center to manage capacity issues at the center and avoid leaving animals outdoors rather than inside the center.

“On the Fourth of July we will often see an uptick in the number of animals at the animal shelter,” Watson said. “So we're anticipating that and moving to make sure that we can manage capacity through hopefully more and more adoptions.”

Monitoring energy

On June 20, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas called for a voluntary conservation of energy between 4 p.m.-8 p.m.

This is a pre-emergency measure from ERCOT, and after this measure there are three emergency alert levels, said Stuart Riley, Austin Energy interim general manager.

Only the highest emergency alert level would require controlled outages across Central Texas and would not be expected to last longer than through an extreme afternoon, Riley said.

“I just want to stress that we do not see that currently on the horizon,” Riley said. “There's no ERCOT emergency today, nor is there one imminent that we know of.”

Ways to conserve energy during the heat include:
  • Raising the thermostat a few degrees
  • Using fans
  • Keeping out direct sunlight by closing shades
  • Avoiding use of large appliances, such as ovens and dryers, during the hottest hours of the day (11 a.m.-4 p.m.)
“Austin Energy constantly maintains and monitors its system to ensure performance during extreme summer conditions,” Riley said. “Meanwhile, ERCOT is monitoring conditions on its statewide electric grid, and Austin Energy is in continuous contact with ERCOT, and we will follow any direction that may come.”

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