Beat the Heat and Help Others Do It Too

June 27, 2012

As summer heats up, residents should know there are services across Illinois to help.

There are more than 120 cooling centers open around the state for those without air conditioning in their Illinois or Chicago real estate.

The centers are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and located:

*At Illinois Department of Human Services offices throughout Illinois.

*At Illinois Tollway Oases in the Chicago area.

*Find a center by calling the Illinois Department of Human Services hotline at 800-843-6154 or by visiting illinois.gov/KeepCool.

Despite the resources, it’s also important to think about family members and neighbors who are vulnerable to the hot weather, including the elderly and children.

“High temperatures and humidity can lead to serious health problems, particularly for the elderly and young children,” said Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “If the body does not cool properly or does not cool enough, a person may suffer a range of heat-related illnesses from, heat rash to heatstroke, which can be fatal.”

The IDPH encourages residents to watch for signs of heat-related illnesses, including headaches, skin that is hot to the touch, increased body temperature, loss of consciousness, seizures and irregular heartbeats.

Recommendations for beating the heat include:

*Keeps lights in your home low or off.

*Keeps shades and blinds closed and avoid using the oven during the day.

*If you do not have air conditioning, stay on the lowest level of your home as heat rises.

*Increase fluid intake and avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and sugar.

*Decrease outdoor physical activity and remain in air conditioning when you can.

And, care about others. Consider making daily visits or calls to senior citizens who live alone and make sure children and pets are getting enough fluids.

“Rising temperatures like those we’re expecting in the days ahead can be extremely dangerous, especially for elderly residents and children,” Governor Quinn said.

“I urge people to take steps to stay safe and cool. If you have children, or elderly neighbors or relatives, please check on them regularly to make sure they are safe.”

There are communities across Illinois that are working with their local post offices in the Carrier Alert Program, a free service that has letter carriers check on the well-being of older adults and the home bound. Check with your post office to see if it participates and visit nalc.org for more information.

For more information about heat preparedness, visit Ready.Illinois.gov.

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