City advises caution as mercury rises to 90-plus

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It’s dangerously hot in the Chicagoland area. The blistering heat of summer continues to bake the city without an end in sight.

It’s dangerously hot in the Chicagoland area. The blistering heat of summer continues to bake the city without an end in sight.

With temperatures expected to stick in the mid-90s for the remainder of the week, city officials are encouraging residents to seek relief in their homes, public buildings or designated cooling shelters as heat Indices climb above 100 degrees.

Anne Sheahan, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Family and Support Services, expected the number of people seeking refuge at the centers to climb in step with the temperatures.

The city was also offering rides to cooling centers. Chicago authorities stepped up their high-heat precautions after a 1995 heat wave killed more than 700 people in less than a week. Now temperatures above 90 degrees trigger an emergency plan that includes city workers calling and visiting the frail and elderly. Since Monday, the city had received 77 shelter requests.

DFSS plans to help provide transportation to cooling centers and respond to resident

well-being check requests.

“Chicago residents have heeded the message to prepare for hot weather,” said Gary Schenkel, executive director of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications. “Let us keep up the good work by remaining vigilant and preparing for hot weather through this weekend, especially if participating in or attending outdoor activities.”

Chicago residents needing assistance with heat-related issues are encouraged to call the city’s 311 information line.

Since this past weekend, OEMC has held daily conference calls and shared information with city departments and private sector partners and special event organizers with outdoor events this week so they can be prepared.

The OEMC’s Emergency Operations Center has not been activated at this point, but it will open immediately if a heat warning is declared, or if other conditions warrant, according to city officials.

If the EOC is activated, the OEMC becomes the primary coordinating agency between City departments and private sector partners to ensure resources are effectively and efficiently deployed to minimize the impact of extreme heat on Chicago residents.

Chicago Public Schools took steps Monday to alert schools to this week’s heat wave and is preparing facilities to ensure students are comfortable, well hydrated and receive the nutrition they need.

CPS has been calling and visiting schools today to see what resources they may need to ensure students have comfortable school environments throughout this week, officials said.

Some children are in summer school, but in some communities the schools are serving as feeding centers for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s summer feeding program.

More than 1,500 fans have been distributed to schools to prepare for the rising temperatures so far. While many schools have total or partial air conditioning, officials have made additional fans available to those schools that need them, according to CPS.

The Chicago Department of Public Health is urging residents to take extra precautions to avoid heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. People are advised to stay out of heat as much as possible, drink plenty of water and refrain from extended strenuous activity outside.

Residents can also contact their local Chicago Park District facility to find out about the availability of activities to beat the heat, including sprinkler parks, indoor activities and of course the beaches on the City’s North and South Sides.

One location, the 41st Street Beach House, can accommodate hundreds of people looking to cool off in Lake Michigan, city representatives said.

That announcement came after the city received 803 calls regarding open hydrants the last two days, most of which are resolved.

The Chicago Fire Department says opening fire hydrants places the entire neighborhood at risk because doing so drops water pressure in the area and prevents firefighters from being able to use them to fight a fire.

Com Ed has told city officials they will have additional crews on stand by to quickly respond to heat-related power outages. The utility company is regrouping after a quick storm uprooted trees and downed power lines earlier this month.

According to the National Weather Service, heat indices of 105 up to110 degrees are possible for the rest of the week. The high temperatures coupled with high humidity produces the heat index.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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