Dozens overcome by heat outside Union Station

July 15, 2010 8:17:24 PM PDT
Summer heat turned dangerous Thursday across Chicago, and parts of the area were under a heat advisory.

Temperatures again soared into the 90s, but combined with the humidity, it felt like more than 100 degrees.

Dozens of people were overcome by the heat Thursday evening near Union Station.

The people were outside the station waiting for a bus. Some had been standing under the sun for as long as two hours when they were overcome.

The City of Chicago responded in force. Paramedics evaluated about 150 people for heat-related ailments.

The fire department brought in CTA buses to give people a place to cool off, and they provided bottles of water.

Despite the ordeal, many took it all in stride.

"I'm fine with it, but I'm a soldier and I've been in Iraq so, I've learned not to complain, but it's not fun, not fun for anybody," said Tonya Harmon.

No one required hospitalization.

"They've just been very, very nice to us, they've supplied us with some place to go in cool," said Beth Wilcoxen. "They've really watched out for the high-risk people. I feel like they're handling it well."

The waiting people were able to travel on when the Megabus they were waiting for finally arrived late.

Chicagoans plunge into pools, Lake Michigan on hot Thursday

With the temperature at 90 degrees and humidity making it feel hotter, Chicagoans looked for ways to cool off Thursday.

On the near West Side, people found relief by plunging into pools.

The Byrne family lathered up with sunscreen, using several applications of SPF 50-plus sunblock to protect their Irish skin.

They were happy to do it, since it meant they could cool off at the beach.

"There's a lovely breeze here. Compared to inside where we're living, it's just too hot and muggy," said Nula Byrne. "This is the place to be."

People looking for a cool summer breeze found that it only kicked in close to the water.

Montrose was the only city beach with a yellow flag, cautioning swimmers about elevated bacteria levels. On a hot and muggy day, many were willing to risk it.

"I really was attempting to make a trip to the Brookfield Zoo here, and so I decided that the water would be cooler than the zoo right now," said Peggy Powers.

If you can't make it to the lake, park district pools are a good option, although Children's Memorial Hospital warned parents about an increase of near-drownings this year.

"This year we've surpassed, we've actually doubled our annual average, and it's only the middle of summer," said Dr. Elizabeth Powell of Children's Memorial Hospital.

"Even if they can swim a little, they don't realize their limitations," said Valerie Cahill of the YWCA. "Turn your back... for 20 seconds, and they can be under the water."

Many who could not spend the day in the water were cooling off by drinking plenty of it. For some, the high temperatures are one thing, but throw in the humidity, and you could expect one bad hair day.

"The humidity turns my hair into a bit of an electrified bush that only seems to grow and get featherier as the day progresses," said one woman.

"I have the blow dry it and curl it and it takes forever, so this weather, I don't have to worry about it," said another woman.

The National Weather Service says this weather pattern is going to continue over the weekend. The City of Chicago is preparing for it with cooling centers open, and they also plan to do some well-being checks.

They say in this kind of heat you have to be on the lookout for risks like heat stroke or heat exhaustion.


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