Cooling centers, courtesy patrol services helping people during dangerous North Texas heat

Cooling centers across North Texas are starting to open up and get busy, as this long stretch of dangerous heat continues

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According to the calendar, the summer season technically starts on Wednesday. However, the recent temperatures have said other otherwise.

Ask anybody, and the Texas summer pretty much started weeks ago.

“This heat is ridiculous,” said Delores Burns, who is spending more time at the West Dallas Multipurpose Center to cool off with other seniors. “It makes you weak. When I’m out here at a certain time it makes me feel real, real weak.”

Cooling centers across North Texas are starting to open up and get busy, as this long stretch of dangerous heat continues.

“It’s been 90 degrees or 100 degrees and it’s just really too hot to be really doing anything,” Burns said.

Starting next week, the West Dallas location and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center near Fair Park will turn into the city's official "Beat the Heat" cooling centers. Reliant Energy is also partnering with the city to give out free portable AC units and evaporative coolers to families in need. Quantities are limited to only one unit per household.

Reliant also provides financial assistance to customers facing hardship to help pay their electricity bill through the CARE program.

People are already at recreation centers and libraries across North Texas to cool off and get access to free ice-cold water.

“It’s huge having a place where you don’t have to pay an admission fee,” said Ashley Hutto, manager of the West Dallas Multipurpose Center manager. “It’s critically important folks have a place to get out of this heat and humidity, especially our folks who are unsheltered or may not have working AC.”

The center is open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on most weekdays and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

The kid's summer camp at the MLK, Jr. Community Center has also been mindful of when to do outdoor activities.

“It is definitely pretty hot this summer, we try to let the kids play outside as much as we can but when they start getting hot. You know when the kids start getting hot and sweaty, they’re really hot, too. We’re trying to keep them inside as much as we can,” said camp staffer Ajani Jamison.  “You just got to have a lot of cool water because when you’re outside in that heat, you’re losing a lot of water when you’re sweating.”

Meantime, Dallas County Sheriff's Office has a courtesy patrol working nonstop to support people having car trouble in this heat. The number to call for dispatch is 214-320-4444.

"That's all we focus on is helping. Flat tires, jump starts, people that run out of gas, anything on the freeway that deals with cars breaking down,” said Coda Mosley with Courtesy Patrol.

The crews drive upwards of 200 to 300 miles per shift ice water in tow, looking for stranded motorists.

"It's pretty important because some people come out here and they have no lifeline whatsoever. I pulled up on several people before and they were like, my phone died or my phone is not on, I had no one to call,” Mosley said.

Their most dangerous calls are those who run out of gas and are unprepared.

"So that's why we make sure we do our best when we get a call, we get to you as fast as possible because every minute you're out there you're getting hotter and hotter. And if you don't have water or anything, it could be very dangerous,” said Mosley.

Words of advice this summer – don’t underestimate it.

“I’ve been staying in Texas all my life,” said Burns, who is turning 71. “Just stay in, be cool and hydrate. It’s too hot.”

The Salvation Army of North Texas has also launched its heat relief efforts to keep people cool by opening cooling stations in five counties and planning to distribute box fans and water at select locations. Click here for a list of locations.

The United Way of Tarrant County also launched its second annual Beat the Heat campaign on Wednesday to collect 100 air conditioning units in honor of the organization’s 100-year anniversary. Click here for details.

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