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Escapee Apprehended
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An employee publication of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice

April 2019

TDCJ hot-weather precautions in effect until November

Frequent water breaks in shaded areas are critical when working outside during hot weather.

In Texas, occasional exposure to summer heat and humidity are unavoidable. As temperatures rise, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice activates special precautions to help prevent heat-related illness among both staff and offenders. Hot-weather precautions for 2019 went into effect on April 15 and last until October 31, unless unseasonably warm temperatures require an extension.

Before high temperatures arrive, the TDCJ trains staff and offenders how to recognize and prevent heat stress, and every on-duty staff member carries a card describing how to prevent, recognize and respond to heat-related illnesses. Cooling fans, blowers and showers in offender housing areas are checked to make sure they work properly.

When the heat index rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside, additional water, ice and cups are provided in offender housing and recreation areas, and during meals. Offenders can wear shorts and T-shirts in some areas, are allowed additional showers when possible, and may request access to respite areas to rest and cool off at any time. Offenders in all custody levels, including restrictive housing, are allowed a fan.

Offenders with medical conditions that make them susceptible to heat stress are put onto a Heat Restriction List, and officers conduct wellness checks on them during normal security checks. A Health Services staff member is called immediately whenever an offender requests a medical check or shows signs of illness.

Anyone working outdoors in warm conditions should schedule work carefully to avoid the hottest parts of the day, and cool off in a respite area when possible. Pace your work and drink lots of fluids, preferably water. Avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks. Wear lightweight clothing with a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and neck. Apply sunscreen before you go outside, and reapply if needed.

Don’t work alone. Always use a buddy system and monitor those around you for signs of heat stress. If you feel your heart beating hard or breathing becomes difficult, immediately stop all activity, get to a cool rest area and rehydrate. If symptoms persist or grow worse, get medical attention as quickly as possible.

Signs of Heat-related Illness

Heat Cramps

  • Involuntary muscle spasms following hard physical work in a hot environment
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Cramping in the abdomen, arms and calves

Heat Exhaustion

  • Weakness, anxiety, fatigue, dizziness, headache or nausea
  • Profuse perspiration, rapid pulse or rapid breathing
  • Possible confusion or loss of coordination
  • May lead to heatstroke if left untreated

Heatstroke requires qualified medical care as soon as possible!

  • Diminished or absent perspiration
  • Hot, dry and flushed skin
  • Increased body temperatures, delirium, convulsions, seizures or possible death
  • Rapid pulse, weakness
  • Headache, mental confusion, dizziness
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Incoherent speech progressing to coma