As Friday's heat was giving us the dubious distinction of cracking a top 10 list, Tarrant County health and social service officials reached out to people who need help surviving.
When the mercury passed 100 about noon, 2011 tied 1993 for 10th place for consecutive days of triple-digit temperatures.
By late afternoon, it was 107, tying with 1978 for the highest July 15 temperature.
A possibly more depressing record is that Friday's early-morning low of 82 tied a record for the date set in the infamous summer of 1980.
For many, those numbers mean only misery.
The elderly, the infirm and young children are most susceptible to risk from long stretches of extremely hot weather, Dr. Sandra Parker, Tarrant County Public Health medical director, said at a news conference.
Since May 1, people have made 122 visits to Tarrant County emergency rooms complaining of heat-related symptoms, Parker said.
Catholic Charities, in partnership with North Texas utilities, is providing one-time bill assistance to low-income electricity users, said Kelsey Lyons, the organization's financial assistance program manager. Catholic Charities and TXU Energy also sponsor a program that helps low-income families get energy-efficient appliances and services, she said.
"We buy fans and air-conditioning units with grant money, and when they are gone, that is all we have," Lyons said.
"We are planning to purchase 75 air-conditioning units, and we would welcome any donations to help those who need cooling assistance."
A representative of TXU, the region's largest power provider, was also at the news conference. Kelli Rod, vice president for community relations, said: "More energy efficiency means a more sustainable household. The last thing we want is for any household to be vulnerable."
Vicki Mize, Tarrant County United Way 211 program director, said call takers are available to help people find the right program to address heat-related problems. From May 1 through Tuesday, the 211 help line had received 4,446 heat-related calls -- 4,000 for electricity assistance, 425 for fan or air conditioning unit assistance and 21 asking the location of a cooling center.
During the same period last year, 211 received 5,535 heat-related requests, Mize said.
"211 and TXU are the navigators who can help get us through our current weather conditions," said Gerald Smith, Tarrant County human services director.
Chance of relief?
This week, the Tarrant County medical examiner reported the year's first official heat-related death. On June 4, Murrell Beasley, 52, was found dead in a vehicle in the 3600 block of Donalee Street. He had underlying health issues, but the cause of death was ruled "exogenous [external] hyperthermia," a spokeswoman for the medical examiner's office said.
Authorities said this month that heat might have been a factor in other deaths. On Monday, a 4-year-old girl was found dead in the back seat of an SUV parked in the driveway of her home near Cleburne. And on July 9 in Young County, a 56-year-old woman was found dead on a hunting lease after walking away from her wrecked all-terrain vehicle.
A 20 percent chance of rain in the weekend forecast may bring some relief to a few North Texas residents. The ridge of high pressure that has been centered over the Metroplex for the past two weeks is moving north toward the Central Plains, said Matt Mosier, National Weather Service meteorologist. That gives the area a better chance for rain, he said.
"We're talking about isolated thunderstorms," he said. "If you're lucky, you'll get one."
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752