The Houston Fire Department joined with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee, the Red Cross and other local non-profits Saturday to kick off her "Beat the Heat" initiative to help the most vulnerable get air conditioners.

It's hard to imagine life in Houston without air conditioning. In fact, Texas homes use about 26 percent more electricity than the national average because of their air conditioners but for those who go without, it can be deadly.

Texas averages 68 heat-related deaths per year so this coming heat wave is nothing to take for granted.
In fact, it's believed heat was the factor in the untimely death of Cynthia and Jerome Clark.

Last August, the couple was found unresponsive in their home two days after their central air conditioner stopped working. That came a day after a repair man knocked on their door and got no answer.

"As the heat keeps rising in the Houston area here in these next few months, certainly the urgency is there especially for the more vulnerable of our community," said Chief of the Houston Fire Department Samuel Pena.

Francis Primes and Barbara Potts--sisters--are some of those vulnerable.

They had been living for more than two months without air conditioning. Relief came Saturday to their home of more than 50 years.

"That means the world to me because I'm old and can't afford one and I appreciate all the help you can give us," said Primes.

Congresswoman Jackson-Lee said she's hoping to get others like these two sisters out of suffocating conditions in order to avoid the same fate as the Clark family nearly a year ago.

The congresswoman's office said it has a list of folks that need air conditioners, but they're looking for more names as they begin an installation blitz in the coming weeks.

If you have issues with your AC, reach out to the city, the congresswoman's office or call 911 if it becomes an emergency.