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Should the Brazos Valley lose power, here's how to avoid heat stroke in your home

Posted at 7:23 PM, Jul 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-08 20:23:31-04

BRYAN, Texas — With more and more pressure being put on Texas' electrical grid this month, it’s easy to imagine but hard to think about: the power shuts off in your home for hours, and it’s over 100 degrees outside.

Dr. Jason McKnight, a family medicine physician with Texas A&M's College of Medicine, has already seen an influx of hospital patients with heat-related illness this past week.

"Heat stroke is a very serious condition and could be deadly," he said. "Common signs of that are what everybody seems to know about: when you stop sweating, and mental status changes, too. So if you or someone you know becomes confused or non-responsive."

McKnight suggests that anyone caught at home without power shut all blinds and curtains to keep out the heat and make sure heat isn’t coming in through cracks under the doors. Remove as much clothing as possible while at home, he said. Hydrate constantly, especially with beverages that replenish electrolytes. Wet a washcloth with tap water, and use it to wipe down your body.

Regional American Red Cross coordinator AJ Renold said that it’s important to check on loved ones and neighbors and make sure they are safe, and prepare drinking water ahead of time – one gallon per person, per day.

"In the heat, water is probably number one," she said. "You need to have water on hand - we typically say for about 72 hours. And especially in the heat, you go through more water.”

Brazos County emergency management coordinators said they are preparing for the worst, but it’s impossible to know exactly how plans will unfold for stations like cooling shelters until it becomes clear which local buildings have power.

Dr. McKnight stressed it’s important to recognize when heat discomfort becomes a medical emergency.

"When you need medical attention is if you are feeling like you’re going to pass out," he said. "[Or it's when] you feel so weak you need assistance getting around, you’ve stopped sweating, or if you’re feeling confused."

According to the Red Cross, one of the most important things you can do is just be prepared, have a plan, and know exactly what you’re going to do if your power goes out.