Kevin Randal, a construction worker in Houston, has his own routine.
Randal, 60, who does air conditioning, roofing, flooring and kitchens, spent Saturday in an attic, drenched in 100-degree sweat, fixing an air conditioner.
He takes breaks every 20 minutes, drinks a mix of lime juice, salt and water to keep him hydrated, and takes small sips of water to prevent nausea and vomiting, he said.
« If you don’t time it correctly, you’ll pass out, » Mr. Randal said, adding, « The heat comes and goes, and work comes and goes with it. »
But for now, the heat comes and stays.
An onslaught of record heat that shows no signs of abating has united all layers of society with the same basic purpose of staying cool, comfortable and safe, while taking a toll on the poor and those without air conditioning.
And the rising temperatures are highlighting the risks to Texas, its power grid and its residents as the state and the globe continue to warm over time.
In Hutto, a rapidly growing suburb 30 miles north of Austin, Williamson County paramedics Liz Garner and Jona Becerra find themselves rushing an increasing number of heat emergencies from their headquarters at Fire Station No. 1.
On a recent day, Ms. Garner rescued a 20-something construction worker who had suffered heatstroke by hastily placing him in an ice bath to lower his body temperature after it soared to 105 degrees. The heat index that day was 106 degrees.
Outdoor workers and the elderly have been thought to be particularly vulnerable, but the latest Texas heat wave is gripping everyone in some way. In Houston, residents of the city’s large immigrant community described a wide range of challenges as temperatures began to soar past 100 degrees in debilitating humidity.
« I have to take it slow so my heart rate doesn’t spike, » said Sandra Tobar, who has worked in landscaping for more than 20 years since coming to the United States from El Salvador. Starts work at 6:45am and usually doesn’t finish until 6pm
« We eat every day, so we have to work every day, » said Ms Tobar, who is in her 50s. “If we don’t work, then we don’t have food. “
National Weather Service advisories have pulled almost no punches in predicting what lies ahead for Texans and residents of surrounding states in the coming days, issuing advisories like « dangerous heat continues » and « excessive heat warning » with heat indexes expected up to at 120 degrees.
Higher maximum temperatures on Saturday 100 degrees were reported in Austin and San Antonio, with the Houston area recording temperatures of just below 100 degrees. San Angelo in West Texas and Cotulla in South Texas each reached 108 degrees.
“Heat warnings and potentially excessive heat warning areas are forecast daily this week for most if not all of south-central Texas,” The National Weather Service She said Sunday.
Extreme heat and humidity are destined to continue in Texas for much of this week, before spreading to parts of the Southwest and lower Mississippi River Valley over July 4th weekend.
Cities across Texas have opened chilling stations in libraries and other public buildings, many of which have served as shelters for the homeless. Relief agencies have also accelerated their service. In San Antonio, Pete Barrera, coordinator of Haven for Hope, which works with the homeless, cruised the streets of downtown on Saturday in a pickup truck loaded with everything from cold water and snacks to food and clothing.
« People are hungry, » he said on his cell phone as he made the rounds. “They are human beings and they need you. If I can help them, I will help them. »
Texans generally seem to adhere to agency advice to drink plenty of water, limit outdoor activities, work early or late in the day, and wear plenty of sunscreen. State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, met at his home in San Antonio last week, said he was up early and staying hydrated, but said he was concerned about the impact on tourism at San Antonio attractions like the Alamo and downtown River Walk.
« It’s 100 degrees in the shade, » the Democratic lawmaker said.
Law enforcement officers may face their own additional comfort challenges. The sergeant. Edward Mora of the Hutto Police Department wore protective gear weighing more than 20 pounds as he cruised through the community in his patrol SUV, awaiting regular police calls and alert for any signs of heat-related trouble. « You’re just trying to see how people are doing, » he said.
On downtown Austin’s row of nightclubs on Sixth Street, the temperature was 39 degrees at 7:45 on a Saturday night, but the foot traffic was still respectably brisk, and by daytime highs some patrons regarded the latest reading as a welcome refreshment.
Many wore shorts and T-shirts, and many said they followed officials’ advice to stay hydrated, albeit perhaps with a little adjustment. When Austin real estate agent Angelica Nunez walked into a nightclub and restaurant with her husband, Joseph Nunez, she said they were « drinking a lot of water. » She added: « And the beer too. »
Anna Betts contributed to the reporting.