Protect Yourself and Your Neighbors From Extreme Heat

June 06, 2011

Spring may have been a no-show around Chicago this year, but summer has hit full force.

The forecast for the new couple days includes hot, humid conditions with a heat index of 100-104. That means that even if the thermometer reads in the 80s, it will still feel like 100 degrees.

This is an important time to check in on elderly family members, friends and neighbors who could be at risk of heat-related issues like heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 300 people die from heat exposure each year, more than the deaths caused by floods, lightning, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined.

“It’s critical that people watch out for each other when the temperatures start to climb and take precautions to ensure that elderly relatives, friends and neighbors have a cool place to seek shelter,” said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois Senior State Director.

The Illinois AARP has these tips for preventing a heat-related emergency:

*Do not engage in strenuous activity.

*Stay indoors during the hottest times of the day.

*Close the shades in your home to keep out the sunshine.

*If you do not have air conditioning, stay on the lower-level in your home as heat rises.

*Check with your local agency for cool places you can go, such as libraries, public buildings, or air-conditioned malls.

*Wear light-weight, loose-fitting clothing and protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat and sunglasses or using an umbrella.

*Drink plenty of water even if you are not thirsty. This helps keep your body cool.

If you live alone, there is someone who comes to your house six days a week already who can check in on you.

Several communities across Illinois are working with their local post offices in the Carrier Alert Program, a free service that allows letter carriers to check on the well-being of older adults and the homebound.

Here’s how it works:

*First, check with your your local post office to see if it participates in the Carrier Alert Program. If so, register!

*Your letter carrier will be place a Carrier Alert symbol in your mailbox, which will alert all letter carriers to watch your mail for any signs of distress such as an unusual accumulation.

*If your letter carrier finds an accumulation of mail, and you have not covered the sticker to signal that you will be away, the agency where you are registered will be notified.

*The social service agency will try to contact you by phone. If you cannot be reached, the agency personnel will try to contact a friend or relative whom you have listed as a contact in the event of an emergency.

*If a friend or a relative cannot be reached, the social service agency will send a worker to your home to check on your health and well-being.

To find out more about this program, visit nalc.org/commun/alert.

Stay cool!

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