Wednesday Ties Heat Record

Temperatures hit the triple digits, tying a record of 102 degrees first set in 1911

Chicago has had a Fourth of July like many have never seen.

Temperatures hit the triple digits, tying a record of 102 degrees first set in 1911. It's only the second time since records have been kept when Independence Day temperatures reached higher than 100 degrees.

There may be one death attributed to the high heat. The Cook County Medical Examiner is looking into what caused the death of a 95-year-old woman who lived in the 9300 block of South Green Street.

If confirmed, it would be the first heat-related death this season.

The National Weather Service has issued Excessive Heat Warnings for Chicago and the collar counties that last until 6 p.m. on Friday. Experts caution against spending too much time in the sun. 

"Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year," reads a statement on the National Weather Service's website. "In fact, on average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died. In the heat wave of 1995 more than 700 deaths in the Chicago area were attributed to heat. In August 2003, a record heat wave in Europe claimed an estimated 50,000 lives."

Remember to check on pets and elderly, and be mindful of young children in the sun. Also, be careful with unattended vehicles as they can heat rapidly in the blazing sun.

At an impromptu news conference, officials from Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications said they've transported 232 people to hospitals due to the heat.

Safety is a top concern for a number of cities and towns who have fireworks displays scheduled. Drought like conditions have raised the possibility of fires breaking out. Plainfield, Wauconda and Round Lake all canceled their displays. 

Air quality is also effected. 

Environmental and health officials are warning that air pollution will spike in the Chicago area on Wednesday because of high temperatures and Fourth of July fireworks.

They say that levels of ground-level ozone and fine particles are expected to be high enough to affect people with lung and heart conditions, as well as children and adults who are active outdoors.

Sensitive people are advised to limit outdoor activity and try to keep cool. They're also asked to avoid activities that contribute to air pollution during the day, such as mowing lawns and driving vehicles.

Officials say particle levels can be higher near fireworks displays Wednesday, and that air pollution also is expected to be elevated on Thursday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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