Stay Safe in Hot Weather
Heat and Electrical Safety Tips for Indoors and Outside
Hot weather in the Austin area can bring fun along with hazards. Protect yourself from heat illness, dehydration, and the sun’s harmful rays. Also make sure to stay safe and avoid outdoor and indoor dangers involving water and electricity. Sign up for Outage Alerts and emergency alerts, and pay attention to current conditions to stay informed when the heat becomes extreme.
Remember to follow these heat safety tips, especially when spending time outside:
- Look before you lock — Ensure children and pets are not left in hot, unattended vehicles.
- Stay hydrated — Drink more water than usual on a hot day and avoid sugary, caffeinated beverages.
- Dress for the weather — Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
- Protect your skin — Apply sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
- Stay out of the sun when possible — Find shade and wear a wide-brimmed hat when outdoors.
- Work and play safely — Avoid high-energy activities and exercise during extreme heat, especially during the afternoon.
- Protect your pets — Provide your pets with plenty of water and shade.
- Check in on elderly family members, friends and neighbors — Make sure they have access to air conditioners and/or fans and clean water for hydration.
- Avoid heat illness — Summer heat can dehydrate and overheat you quickly, especially if you are exercising outdoors. Drink cool water regularly to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which require immediate medical attention.
These simple precautions can help you stay safe around electricity during summer activities:
- Make sure your children know to stay away from electrical substations and to never climb a substation fence.
- Do not attempt to climb utility poles or trees touching power lines. Also, never try to prune or trim trees touching power lines. Austin Energy can help you safely trim trees around power lines.
- Only use extension cords safe for outdoor use to power tools and toys when you’re working or playing outside. Remember that extension cords are a temporary, and not permanent, solution for powering appliances. Use only when necessary.
- Work on electric pool pumps or underwater pool lights when no one is in the water.
- Keep electrical appliances at least 10 feet away from pools or other bodies of water.
- Make sure appliances like blenders, mixers, power tools or other appliances with moving parts are switched off before plugging them in.
- Swim far away from boat docks, especially docks equipped with electric lights. If swimmers are near your boat, turn all electricity off. If there is faulty wiring, water can become energized and endanger swimmers nearby.
- Keep electronics away from the bathtub and shower, especially when plugged in. Phone chargers, hair dryers and similar items pose a risk near water.
- Make sure lamps and light fixtures are unplugged or switched off before attempting to change a lightbulb.
- Never use silverware or other metal items to retrieve items from a plugged-in toaster.
- Use outlet covers when small children are in the home.
Remember these indoor and outdoor water safety tips, too:
- Provide active and constant supervision of children in the water and be a water watcher. Put away phones and other distractions around water. Focus on swimming safety. When in any type of water, toddlers and infants should be no more than arm’s length away from their parent or caregiver at all times.
- Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket that fits properly while enjoying activities on the water.
- Teach children to swim and learn to swim yourself. Five essential water safety skills include being able to:
- Step or jump into water over one’s head and return to the surface.
- Tread water for one minute.
- Turn around in a full circle and find an exit from the pool.
- Swim 25 yards to exit the water.
- Be able to exit the water. If in a pool, exit without using the ladder.
- Learn CPR and basic water rescue skills so you are prepared in case of an emergency.
- Teach children to ask permission to go near water. Teach children to stay away from pool and spa drains.
- Practice pool safety. Use physical barriers to prevent children from accessing any source of water. Set alarms on pools and doors/windows leading to pools.
- Make sure children stay away from water hazards in your community such as garden ponds, creeks and streams, wells and cisterns, and other bodies of water.
- Teach kids that swimming in open water is different than swimming in a pool. Limited visibility, sudden drop-offs, uneven surfaces, currents and undertow can be dangerous.
- Do not use foam or air-filled toys, (e.g. floaties, water wings, inner tubes, noodles), in place of a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
- Empty tubs, buckets and kiddie pools immediately after use. This also helps minimize mosquitoes.
- Watch for signs of water injury even when the swimming is over.
- Never leave a young child unattended in a bathtub. Do not trust a child's life to another child or to aids that help a child sit upright in a tub.
- Use safety locks on toilets and keep bathroom doors closed and toilet-bowl covers down when small children are in the home.
- If you are going out on a boat or another vessel, dress for the water, not the air. Even when the temperature outside is warm, the water temperature could be chilly.
- Prepare a float plan so other people know your schedule on the water, whether you plan to fish, hunt, kayak, or enjoy any other activity on the water.
- During storm season, remember to turn around, don’t drown. Watch for low-water crossings and local flooding when planning your commute.
Stay Safe During a Power Outage
Power outages are the result of a variety of causes—anything from vehicle crashes and animals to severe weather. At Austin Energy, the safety of our crews and customers is our utmost concern. Follow these tips to stay safe during power outages:
- Call 9-1-1 if you have a medical emergency or your life is at risk during a power outage. Do not wait for your power to be turned back on.
- Report power outages and receive updates by text message. Text REGISTER to 287846 to get started. Austin Energy will send you proactive texts during outages to keep you informed.
- Avoid downed power lines. Stay indoors if at all possible during a storm to avoid downed power lines. You must stay at least 35 feet away from any downed lines. If you believe there is a downed power line near your home or business, call 512-322-9100 to report it immediately.
- Be aware that limbs, fences, hoses, playsets, and other structures near you can become energized by a downed power line.
- If you must travel across the city in the aftermath of severe weather, first consult the Outage Map to view the location and types of known electrical hazards.
- Use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns during an outage. Candles and kerosene lanterns are not recommended for lighting because of fire risks and fume hazards.
- Follow safety precautions with portable emergency generators. Portable generators may be used to provide limited electrical power during an outage, but take care to ensure that they do not pose a threat to you and your family. Gas-powered generators pose serious fire and carbon monoxide threats.
- Never fuel or run a portable generator inside the home, place of business, or garage.
- Make sure the generator is equipped with a double-throw transfer switch that protects your equipment and prevents feedback on power lines.
- Always operate generators according to the manufacturer's instructions and ensure installation meets proper electrical requirements.
- Consider getting back-up power resources to keep personal electronics and phones charged during emergencies, such as a power bank, a portable charger or a fast charging battery pack.
- If you have experienced an outage for an extended period of time, turn off lights and electronics and unplug as many items as possible. This will help you avoid cold load pick-up, where circuits become overloaded because of lights, electronics, air conditioners/heaters and thermostats left on prior to the outage, causing a second outage as soon as power is restored.
- Remember that, during an outage, gas appliances may not work if the power is off because the equipment may require electricity for ignition or valve operation.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed during an outage. Home refrigerators can keep food cold enough for a day or two without power, if the doors are kept closed. As a rule of thumb, 25 pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer at the proper temperature (32 degrees F) for three to four days. When in doubt, throw it out. Read the USDA guidelines for keeping food safe during outages.
- Do NOT attempt to assist emergency and utility crews. It's dangerous work. Let the pros handle repairs and restoration.
- Keep in touch with local emergency operations, warnings and assistance by connecting with Warn Central Texas and Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Follow Austin Energy, the City of Austin and other local authorities on social media for information during extreme weather events.
Understand Wildfire Risk
In Central Texas, the peak season for wildfires is April through October. Often, years with extreme winter storms also bring extreme drought conditions during the summer, significantly increasing the risk of wildfires. During windy and stormy weather, swaying and broken tree limbs can rub against and hit or bring down power lines. Such impacts can cause service fluctuations, outages, and fires.
- Learn how our tree trimming program is a necessity in order to protect our community from wildfire dangers.
- Know your wildfire risk and protect what matters with the help of the Austin Fire Department's Wildfire division.
- Check the City of Austin’s emergency alert information
- Plan ahead for power outage emergencies
- Stay informed about any current outage emergency conditions
- Save on energy bills during hot weather
- Save even more with our Rebates and Incentives offerings
- Learn about heat awareness and water safety tips from Austin Public Health
- Learn about water safety tips from the American Red Cross
- Get detailed energy-saving tips