The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Local News

June 22, 2012

Prepping for the heat

CLINTON — As temperatures and humidity rise throughout the summer, citizens are encouraged to take precautions to ensure their safety.

On Monday, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced services available throughout the state to protect people.

The state has opened more than 120 cooling centers around Illinois, in order to help those without air conditioning find respite from the heat. The cooling centers are located at Illinois Department of Human Services offices throughout the state, as well as at Illinois Tollway Oases in the Chicago area.

Cooling centers are open to the public during regular business hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Residents in Carroll County can visit the cooling center at 820 South Mill Road in Mount Carroll, Ill., and residents in Whiteside County can visit the cooling center at 2605 Woodlawn Road in Sterling, Ill.

There are currently no cooling centers in the Clinton area, but the Gateway Area Chapter Red Cross is prepared to help individuals in need.

“At this time the Gateway Chapter of the American Red Cross has not been requested to support/manage any cooling centers in the area,” Jolene Carpenter, emergency services director, said. “The American Red Cross works in partnership with the local emergency management office and health departments to ensure that the needs of any affected individuals are meet. In the event that we would be requested to support/manage a cooling center, American Red Cross volunteers are ready and would be available 24 hours, 7 days a week.”

The American Red Cross also offers resources and tips for staying safe. Residents are encouraged to be aware of those in their neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. These individuals are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.

Staying hydrated is important by drinking plenty of fluids. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol and extreme temperature changes, according to Red Cross officials. Eat small meals and eat more often. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat. Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat and have plenty of shade and water.

Those who must work outside are encouraged to use a buddy system and take frequent breaks when working in excessive heat. If you do not have air conditioning, choose places to go for relief from the heat during the warmest part of the day (schools, libraries, theaters, malls).

The three most common ailments caused by heat are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and life-threatening heat stroke.

Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen caused by exposure to high heat and humidity and loss of fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat.

Heat exhaustion typically involves the loss of body fluids through heavy sweating during strenuous exercise or physical labor in high heat and humidity. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.

For more information on heat emergencies, visit www.gatewayredcross.org.

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