During the summer months, the temperature in Illinois can reach dangerous levels. Extreme heat can be particularly hazardous for children, seniors, those with special needs, and pets. In addition to discomfort and fatigue, high temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. To protect yourself and others, please familiarize yourself with the following guidelines.
- Know the terms used by the National Weather Service during extreme heat: Heat Wave, Excessive Heat Watch, Heat Advisory, Excessive Heat Warning, and Heat Index.
- Stay out of the sun. If you must be in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Stay in the shade or under awnings as much as possible.
- Avoid overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible to prevent sunburn.
- Consume plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty. Water, diluted juices, and electrolyte solutions are best. Stay away from carbonated drinks.
- Avoid alcohol.
- If you are on a fluid-restricted diet or taking diuretics, consult your doctor before exposing yourself to heat.
- Keep lights in your home low or off, keep shades drawn, and avoid using the oven.
- Keep rooms well ventilated with air conditioners and fans. Keep your windows open if you don't have air conditioning or a fan.
Note: Fans will not prevent heat-related illness when the temperature is in the high 90s.
- Cool down with cool, wet towels and periodic cool baths or showers.
- Take advantage of cooling centers, public pools, and air-conditioned stores and malls during periods of extreme heat.
- Exposure to air conditioning for even a few hours a day will reduce the risk for heat-related illness.
- Closely monitor children, the elderly, or those who require special care during periods of intense summer heat.
- Do not leave children or pets in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes. On a hot day, temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140ºF-190ºF within 30 minutes.
- Make a special effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are seniors, families with young children, people with special needs, or living alone.
- Seniors and others who may be sensitive to extreme heat should contact friends, neighbors, or relatives periodically throughout the day.
- Seek help if you feel symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
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Illinois is famous for its cold winters. Heavy snow and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can be hit with a major snow storm and low temperatures. The results can range from the havoc of cars trying to maneuver on ice-covered highways to isolation due to power outages and blocked roads. Whatever the case, winter storms can cause seasonal deaths and injuries. To protect yourself and your family from the many hazards of winter weather – blizzards, heavy snows, low temperatures, freezing rain, or sleet – follow these safety tips.
- Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
- Wear mittens instead of gloves.
- Wear water-repellent clothing.
- Wear a hat.
- Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
- Make sure small children, infants, and the elderly stay warm. They are more vulnerable to the cold.
- Take advantage of warming centers, public park facilities, and heated stores and malls.
- Where possible, try to keep one room in your home heated to 68-70 degrees.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.
- Eat high energy foods and drink warm beverages.
- Beware of overexertion; shoveling snow or pushing disabled cars can be very strenuous and should only be done by individuals in good health.
Safe heating tips
- Electric heaters can be hazardous and should be used with caution to prevent shock, fire, and burns. Follow the usage instructions carefully and keep clothing and blankets away from heating elements.
- Carbon monoxide can kill. Be careful using fireplaces; make sure flues are clear and properly ventilated.
- Gas ovens, burners, and charcoal should never be used to heat your home.
- NEVER use generators in homes, garages, basements, crawl spaces, or other enclosed or partially enclosed areas, even with ventilation.
Safe use of the car in cold weather
- Make sure your car is in good operating condition before using it in extreme cold.
- Keep condensation (water) out of your gas tank by keeping the tank as full as possible.
- Maintain a storm kit in your car with items such as a cell phone and charger; blankets; extra clothing; jumper cables; a flashlight; high-calorie, non-perishable food; and matches or a lighter.
- Plan your trip carefully. If cold, snowy, or icy conditions exceed your ability or your car's ability, don't travel.
- Tell someone about your travel plans.
- Never leave the motor running in a vehicle parked in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, such as a garage.
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