Chicago Heat Wave 2019: A Guide to Help Get You Through

Nearly all of the Chicago area will be under an Excessive Heat Warning this week

A dangerous heat wave will soon envelop the Chicago area, bringing exessive heat warnings, advisories and soaring temperatures. 

Nearly all of the Chicago area will be under an Excessive Heat Warning this week as heat index values could rise as high as 115 degrees for some.  

Here's a guide to help you beat the heat: 

Excessive Heat Warning

The National Weather Service preemptively issued the warning Wednesday afternoon for Cook, DeKalb, Kane, Lake, DuPage, Lasalle, Kendall, McHenry, Grundy, Will and Kankakee counties in Illinois and Lake, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties in Indiana, as well as Kenosha County in Wisconsin. 

The warning was pushed back for most counties following a round of morning storms Thursday. The alert began at 3 p.m. Thursday for most, but at 10 a.m. Friday for Cook, DuPage, Lake, McHenry and Kane counties and Kenosha County in Wisconsin. The warning continues for all through 7 p.m. Saturday.

Air temperatures are forecast to rise to between 96 and 101 degrees, though Heat Index readings could be between 105 and 115 degrees. Temperatures will likely drop only to around 80 degrees in the city Friday night, offering "little to no relief from the heat," according to the National Weather Service.

Tips to Stay Cool

From common sense solutions to off-the-wall ideas, Chicago residents looking to beat the heat have plenty of options. 

Tip 1: Keep drinking plenty of water. 

Tip 2: Get your body in water too. 

Tip 3: Wear light and loose clothing.

Tip 4: Avoid the hottest parts of the day. From noon to 4 p.m., temperatures are going to spike close to 100 degrees, and heat indicies are expected to settle between 110 and 115 degrees.

Tip 5: Wear sunscreen - and lots of it.

Know the Warning Signs

As temperatures rise to dangerous levels, there are some warning signs you should watch for. The Illinois Department of Public Health says heat-related deaths or illnesses can often be prevented. Here's what they say you need to watch for.

Heat Stroke

What to look for:

  • Body temperature 103ºF or higher
  • Hot, red, dry or damp skin
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Nausea
  • Feeling confused
  • Passing out

What to do:

  • Call 9-1-1 right away. Heat stroke is a medical emergency.
  • Move the person to a cooler place
  • Lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath
  • Do NOT give the person anything to drink

Heat Exhaustion

What to look for:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Feeling tired or week
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Headache
  • Passing out

What to do:

  • Move to a cool place
  • Loosen clothing
  • Use cool, wet cloths or take a cool bath
  • Sip water
  • GET MEDICAL HELP RIGHT AWAY IF: You are throwing up, symptoms get worse, symptoms last longer than an hour
Heat Cramps:

What to look for:
  • Heavy sweating during intense exercise
  • Muscle pain or spasms

What to do: 

  • Stop physical activity and move to a cool place
  • Drink water or a sports drink
  • Wait for cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity
  • GET MEDICAL HELP RIGHT AWAY IF: Cramps last longer than an hour, you’re on a low-sodium diet, you have heart problems
Heat Rash

What to look for: 
  • Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases)

What to do:

  • Stay in a cool, dry place
  • Keep the rash dry
  • Use powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash
Sunburn

What to look for:
  • Painful, red, and warm skin
  • Blisters on the skin

What to do:

  • Stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals
  • Put cool cloths on sunburned areas or take a cool bath
  • Put moisturizing lotion on sunburned areas
  • Do NOT break blisters
Dehydration

What to look for: 
  • Increased thirst and a dry or sticky mouth
  • Signs of fatigue, confusion or anger
  • Dry eyes or blurred vision
  • Headaches or disorientation
  • Muscle cramps
  • Lack of sweat
  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Shriveled and dry skin
What to do:
  • Meet your daily hydration needs, for women, the National Academy of Sciences recommends 2.7 liters of water a day (about 11.4 cups), and for men, 3.7 liters (15 cups). Try to drink more water if you've spent excessive time in the sun, or exercising.
  • It’s important to drink sports beverages that contain sodium, or snack on salted pretzels or low-fat cheeses. The sodium helps your body to re-hydrate and retain the water.
  • Plain water is good for you, but a combination of water, electrolytes and sodium is really the best way to stay hydrated.be aware of your body, and stop what you’re doing
  • Be aware of your body, and stop what you're doing if you notice any of these symptoms.

Keeping Your Pets Safe

  • Take your pet for walks during the cooler hours of the day
  • Check the temperature of the pavement: If the concrete is too hot for your hands, it’s also too hot for your dog's paws.
  • Keep a kiddie pool in the backyard: Filling a kiddie pool with a few inches of water can help keep your pet cool while they are playing outside.
  • Apply sunscreen: Believe it or not, pets get sunburns too, especially those with short or light hair coat. Apply sunblock on your dog's nose, ears, belly and anywhere else on their bodies where there is less hair. Ask your vet about products suitable for your pet.
  • Know the risk factors: Pugs, English bulldogs, Shih-Tzus and other “smush-faced” breeds -- also known as Brachycephalic pets -- are at high risk of heatstroke, experts say. Smaller dogs -- like Dachshunds and toy breeds -- are also a common victim of heatstroke.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms: Panting excessively is a common symptom of heat exhaustion. Other symptoms include dizziness, weakness, seizures, lethargy or diarrhea.

For more on how to keep your pets safe click here

Find Cooling Centers Near You

When the temperatures rise to dangerous levels, it's important to stay safe and to know where you can escape the heat. Cooling centers will be open in Chicago and surrounding suburban counties. Click here to find one near you. 

Lyft announced Thursday it was offering free and discounted rides to cooling centers in the area using the code CHICOOL19. 

Keep Your Energy Bills Down and Save Money

• Turn it off: Turn off all unnecessary lighting and devices. 

• Manage your thermostat: Set your thermostat at as high a temperature as comfortably possible and ensure humidity control if needed. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting thermostats to 78 degrees when you are home and need cooling. Install a programmable or smart thermostat to automatically adjust your home's temperature settings when you're away or sleeping. 

• Keep shades, blinds and curtains closed: Heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25–30% of residential heating and cooling energy use. Simply closing blinds and curtains, which act as a layer of insulation, can reduce heat gain from the sun in your home.

• Use ceiling fans to circulate air: For those without air conditioning, use ceiling fans or portable fans with the windows partially open to circulate fresh air into your home and create a breeze to help cool you off. For those with air conditioning, fans can be used to evenly distribute cool air and can make a room feel up to 4 degrees cooler. Remember though that fans cool people, not rooms. Therefore, fans should be turned off in vacant rooms.

Public Transportation and Commutes

Metra also said trains will need to operate at reduced speeds in the heat. 

"When temperatures exceed 95 degrees, Metra is required to reduce train speed by 10 mph to compensate for heat related stress on the tracks," the rail agency tweeted Wednesday. 

Illinois transportation officials are warning drivers throughout the state to watch for road blowouts during the intense heat.

Acting Transportation Secretary Omer Osman says the "potential for pavement failures will increase" this week as the heat index likely tops 100. High temperatures can cause roads to expand and blow out. State crews will be monitoring the conditions and can make repairs as quickly as possible. 

Pavement failures can be reported to (800) 452-4368 or 911.

Lyft announced Thursday it was offering free and discounted rides to cooling centers in the area using the code CHICOOL19. 

What to Do if You Power Goes Out

ComEd announced Tuesday that it is increasing crew staffing and opening its Emergency Operations Center to "respond quickly if power outages occur." 

Anyone who experiences an outage is urged to test "OUT" to 26633 ot call (800) 334-7661. Spanish-speaking customers can call (800) 955 8237. 

When Will It End?

The city could see some relief Sunday, which looks to be partly sunny and not as hot with highs in the upper 80s. Still, humid conditions are expected with a chance of showers and storms.

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