During a heat emergency, the City Health Department allows designated public libraries to be used as shelters during the hottest part of the day. Health Department spokeswoman Cathy Barton says they declare an emergency when the heat index is over 108 degrees for two straight days.
"At a heat index of 108, that is a temperature that is dangerous to everyone, not just the frail, not just the very young and the very old, but to healthy young adults."
Barton says children under the age of five, people over 55, and people of any age with chronic illnesses are the high risk groups. Those people are urged to stay in air conditioned houses or buildings during the hot part of the day, and if that's not available, certain public libraries are.
"We open up cooling centers, which are public buildings, generally libraries where we encourage people who are trying to live without air conditioning to go and enjoy the air conditioning. We will also provide transportation through Metro when we are in a heat emergency."
Barton says Houstonians can find out which libraries are designated as cooling centers by calling 311, which can also arrange Metro transportation for those who have no transportation of their own. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.