Hot Weather Safety
Extreme heat and high humidity can be dangerous to anyone, but particularly to the elderly, infants, and young children, persons with disabilities and people on medication for chronic health problems. Here are some common sense tips for handling the heat:
Tips for Handling the Heat
- Stay indoors and in air-conditioning as much as possible.
- Use blinds or shades to block sunlight coming through windows that receive morning or afternoon sun.
- Increase the amount of water and natural juices you drink regardless of your activity level; avoid beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine, and lots of sugar. [Note: If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.]
- Avoid going out in the blazing heat, as much as possible.
- Minimize the use of electric lights and heat-generating appliances, like ovens.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, clothing.
- Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods, such as fruit or salads.
- Check on family members, friends and neighbors.
- If you or anyone you know needs emergency medical attention, call 9-1-1.
If you go outside in the heat...
- Plan strenuous activities for early or late in the day when temperatures are cooler.
- During heavy exercise, drink two or four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluid each hour.
- Take frequent breaks when working outdoors.
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Also wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.
- At the first sign of heat illness (dizziness, weakness, headaches, nausea, muscle cramps), move to a cooler location, rest for a few minutes, and slowly drink a cool beverage.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you do not feel better.
- If the power goes out or air-conditioning is not available...
- Stay on the lowest floor and out of the sunshine
- Take cool baths or showers if you feel overheated; use cool towels
- Keep a few bottles of water in your freezer. If the power goes out, move them to your refrigerator and keep the doors shut.
- Do not direct the air flow of portable electric fans towards yourself when the room temperature is hotter than 90° F.
- Consider going to an air-conditioned building, such as a cooling center, shopping mall, etc.
Do Not Leave Children in Cars
- Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly.
- Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20° F within the first 10 minutes. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death. Children who are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for heat stroke, and possibly death. When traveling with children, remember to do the following:
- Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
- To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
- When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.
Highlights of the Heat Warning Response
- Extended hours at City cooling centers and Park District beaches, pools and water parks.
- Transportation to cooling centers for those in need
- “Well-being” checks conducted by several City agencies.
- On-site visits to nursing homes to determine residence safety.
- Extra tow trucks to help motorist stranded in overheated vehicles.
- Suspending water service cut-offs for non-payment of bills whenever the temperature is above 90° F.
Keeping Your Pets Cool
- Any animal can suffer from the heat, particularly very young or very old animals, short nosed breeds of dogs (e.g. pugs, bulldogs), heavy coated cats and dogs, and pets who are overweight or have a medical condition.
- Provide water and shelter from the sun at all times.
- Restrict activity during extreme heat.
- Never leave pets in parked vehicles. Even moderate heat rapidly increases and can kill the pet quickly.
Additional Resources for Staying Cool
Residents should call 3-1-1 to request heat-related assistance of all types, whether to:
- register for a well-being check,
- report an open hydrant, or
- find their nearest cooling center.
It is against the law to open a fire hydrant. If you see an opened hydrant, please report it to 3-1-1 immediately. An open hydrant hinders the Fire Department's ability to fight fires, reduces water pressure in your home and may cause basement flooding. An opened hydrant is a very dangerous place for children to play.