Heat wave grips Chicago area for 2nd day

July 21, 2011 7:10:09 PM PDT
The Chicago area remains in the grips of a summer heat wave, creating health concerns for some, especially the elderly and those with medical issues.

An excessive heat warning was in effect until 9 p.m. Thursday as heat indices soared over 105.

"Extreme heat and humidity are more than just an inconvenience, they are dangerous and deadly," said Dr. Bechara Choucair, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner.

The oppressive heat not only sent calls for well-being checks to a weekday high of 148 -- almost triple the norm for a Wednesday -- but also dozens of seniors to city cooling centers.

"It is nice that it is so close to my apartment and I do enjoy being here," said senior Shirley Flowers.

Agricultural sciences teacher Carol Williams knows it's hot. She's been working in her students' community garden for most of the day.

"My students are off, so I'm trying to hold it down for them," Williams told ABC7.

With temperatures feeling well beyond the 90s, it's getting tougher to beat the heat. St. Sabina's pastor, Father Micahel Pfleger, and church members gave away ice cold bottled water.

"We remember 1995. What happened then was the result of neglect not the heat wave. People need to help people," said Fr. Pfleger.

Fire officials say playing in an open hydrant is not the best or safest way to cool off.

"If you have a garden hose or a sprinkler. They enjoy that. Playing in the street is just dangerous," said John McNicholas, assistant department commissioner, Chicago Fire Department.

Still, many residents don't have air conditioning and or good fans. West Side resident Elsie Smith, who remembers the deadly heat wave of 1995, ventured outside for some relief.

"I'd rather have the coldness. This is so hot. You could die out here, it's so hot," she said.

The Office of Emergency Management and Communications say since Wednesday they have made at least 14,000 reverse 911 calling warning residents about the heat.

"We have opened the emergency operations center as a precautionary measure. Call volume is low but it remains steady," said Gary Schenkel, OEMC executive director.

Experts say that if you have to go out, then make sure you stay hydrated, wear a hat and take it slow. They say if you do not have to go outside, do not.

City officials are reminding residents to check on the elderly and seniors with disabilities. Anyone can request a well-being check by calling 311. Residents may go to public buildings such as libraries and police stations to keep cool.

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services operates six cooling centers, open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Those who need transportation to a cooling center may call 311. Those locations:

  • Englewood Center
    845 W. 69th Street
    Chicago, IL 60621
    312-747-0200
  • Garfield Center
    10 S. Kedzie Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60612
    312-746-5400
  • King Center
    4314 S. Cottage Grove
    Chicago, IL 60653
    312-747-2300
  • North Area
    4740 N. Sheridan Road
    Chicago, IL 60640
    312-744-2580
  • South Chicago
    8650 S. Commercial Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60617
    312-747-0500
  • Trina Davila
    4357 W. Armitage Ave.
    Chicago, IL 60639
    312-744-2014

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