Hot weather has taken over Central Texas, and meteorologists remind residents to take all necessary precautions to beat the heat.
Recently, the Harker Heights area has consistently hit temperatures above 90 degrees, a trend that will extend through the summer months, said Walt Zaleski, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service regional headquarters in Fort Worth.
This area has the world’s most active weather, and 70 percent of natural disasters occur in this part of the country, Zaleski said.
“Texas and areas westward are very hot,” he said. “It’s hot all across the south due to the dry heat where the amount of moisture at ground level is nominal and the temperature can really heat up.”
Zaleski said temperatures can sometimes peak at 110 degrees this time of year.
“It makes you feel clammy, sticky, sweat even more profusely and your body continues to heat up,” he said. “(The heat) can be very deceiving and it robs your body of moisture.”
Residents should monitor their outdoor activities and stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water and wearing light-colored clothing.
“The perspiration that is occurring to combat the exterior heat is working to cool your skin but at the same time, you develop sunburn,” Zaleski said.
Aside from putting on a coat of sunblock, Zaleski said people should remain aware of the weather so they do not suffer heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
“At this point, your body’s cooling system has failed,” he said. “You are having a boil over.”
He said residents should be mindful of their outdoor activities, taking breaks from the sun if they feel cramps, muscle spasms, heavy sweats, dizziness or vomiting.
People with these symptoms should get to a cool environment, loosen their clothing and take gradual sips of water. Zaleski said it may also be wise to seek medical attention to prevent a fatal outcome for those who might have spent a prolonged amount of time working or playing in the sun.
The Heights Parks and Recreation Department considers the heat when planning summer programs.
“Especially with the Texas heat, more people come in to cool off,” said Lori Briere, recreation superintendent, noting that more people head to the pool during the summer to stay cool. “They need to definitely use sun protection and sunscreen, and even when they are staying cool in the water, they still need to stay hydrated.”
The Parks and Recreation Department makes sure water jugs are full and placed at every dugout for baseball players and umpires, she said.
The city’s summer camp program staff is undergoing first aid and CPR training, said Nichole Broemer, activities and recreations coordinator.
“We do outdoor activities early in the morning before the day heats up,” she said. “We make sure they drink plenty of liquids.” She said children are also limited in the time they spend outside, so they don’t get dehydrated.
Meanwhile, Zaleski reminds the community that hot weather can bring astronomical temperatures inside a parked vehicle. He said children and elderly people should not be left inside parked cars, as temperatures can soar up to a deadly 200 degrees. “Heat builds up like an oven,” Zaleski said.
Central Texas has an average of about 109 days a year that reach temperatures above 90 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.