How to stay safe during excessive heat starting Thursday

  • Dangerous heat is on the way to the Chicago area. Residents are advised to drink plenty of water and minimize sun exposure.

    Dangerous heat is on the way to the Chicago area. Residents are advised to drink plenty of water and minimize sun exposure. Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 7/18/2019 9:09 AM

From taking cool baths to spending the day in cooling centers, experts advise a host of ways suburban residents can beat the dangerous heat headed this way starting Thursday.

An excessive heat watch is in effect from noon Thursday to 7 p.m. Saturday for the region, according to accuweather.com. High temperatures are expected to reach 95 to 100 degrees in the watch area, with the heat index reaching 102 to 113, the National Weather Service said. Nighttime temperatures will offer little relief, with lows only around 80 in Chicago Thursday and Friday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Residents are advised to avoid prolonged exposure to heat; avoid outdoor activity and direct sunlight; wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing; drink plenty of water; minimize sun exposure; and never leave children or pets in vehicles.

ComEd says it will increase staffing to respond to power outages.

"We have opened up our emergency operations center ... to coordinate response, if we need to," spokesman John Schoen said. "We are not expecting any brownouts (a reduction in or restriction on availability of electrical power in an area). Outages are a concern for our customers and we want to make sure we respond as quickly as we can."

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If outages occur in your area, you are encouraged to find a cooling center nearby and report any outages to ComEd via Facebook or Twitter.

The Illinois Department of Transportation warns pavement buckling or blowouts can occur with prolonged high temperatures. Precipitation and humidity increase the potential for buckling. Drivers should remain alert to slowing traffic and move over for maintenance workers and emergency personnel. Report pavement failures by calling (800) 452-4368 or 911.

Here are some things to know about the heat wave:

Keeping cool

Staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water are key to staying safe and cool when temperatures rise. The Kane County Health Department urges residents to drink more water than usual and not to wait until they are thirsty to hydrate.

Two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside and avoiding alcohol or beverages with high amounts of sugar is recommended.

Other tips include relaxing in cooler areas of the house, such as a basement, and visiting air-conditioned buildings and designated cooling centers, such as libraries or other public buildings. Residents should not rely on a fan as a primary cooling device because it would be inadequate, health officials say.

Experts urge taking cool showers or baths to lower body temperature.

Avoid using appliances like ovens and dishwashers, or use them during cooler hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

To help manage inside temperature, raise the thermostat by 10 degrees when leaving the home and before going to sleep, and keep shades, blinds and curtains closed to avoid taking in 40% extra heat. Keep doors closed to keep cool air in and hot air out.

Checking on at-risk friends, family and neighbors twice daily is encouraged. That includes seniors, disabled neighbors and friends and people with chronic health conditions.

Pet care

The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends leaving pets at home if possible and providing different temperature zones within the house for their comfort.

Walks, hikes or runs with pets should be done during cooler hours of the day. Avoid hot surfaces, such as asphalt, that can burn paws. Check with a veterinarian to see if getting a warm-weather haircut or sunscreen would help your pet.

The association warns never to leave pets in a car, even in the shade or with windows cracked, because cars can overheat quickly to deadly temperatures even when the weather isn't severe.

Pet owners should seek emergency veterinary care if they observe signs of heat stress: anxiousness, excessive panting, restlessness, excessive drooling, unsteadiness, abnormal gum and tongue color, and collapsing.

Saving on energy

Cranking up air conditioners to cool off on hot days typically results in high electric bills. To save energy and costs, ComEd is advising customers to join its Peak Times Savings program.

More than 233,000 ComEd customers already have signed up and receive notices of weekday times when they can voluntarily reduce their energy use and earn credits on their bills. Customers with smart meters can monitor their energy use by accessing hourly and daily usage information on their online accounts. They also can sign up for high-usage alerts via email, text or phone.

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