Medical examiner: Two people dead from heat

July 5, 2012 2:21:04 PM PDT
As the sweltering heat tightens its grip on the area, officials are urging residents to check on their neighbors.

It could reach 103-degrees in Chicago on Thursday. An excessive heat warning is in effect until 10 p.m. Friday and the Illinois EPA declared Thursday an Air Pollution Action Day-- children and adults, especially those with conditions such as asthma, should limit the time they spend outside.

"Extreme heat and humidity are more than an inconvenience, they are dangerous and in some cases can be deadly," Dr. Suzzette McKinney, Chicago Department of Health, said.

City workers are both calling and visiting the sick and elderly to make sure they're OK.

For 28 years, Lueretha Chambers been delivering food to seniors for Open Kitchens, a private organization contracted by the City of Chicago to help feed those in need. As she makes her rounds on Thursday, she'll check on seniors to make sure they're handling the heat.

"A lot of them do not have air-conditioning. Some of them are in the house with sweaters on. It is steaming in their houses. I have clients with houses that feel like saunas," Chambers said.

On Wednesday, Chambers said she found a man who had fallen in his garage and couldn't get up. He's OK.

"We helped him up and put him back in his chair. I told him he should not be sitting out in the garage," Chambers said.

The Chicago Department of Family and Support Services also conducts well-being checks. Since the heat wave started, staffers have gone out on 118 physical checks, made 1,500 calls to seniors, and placed 7,200 robo calls with a heat warning.

The city is also urging people to check on their neighbors during the next two days. All six of the city's cooling centers are open.

The city will have all six neighborhood cooling centers open Thursday. They're also offering free rides to help people get to them.

Meanwhile, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office is working this morning to determine if heat played a role in five deaths, including that of 95-year-old Iona Kedrics, who was found dead Tuesday night in her South Side home.

"I thought her nieces and nephews were coming out to watch for her. I didn't know she was over there by herself," Claudette Rachal, Kedrics' neighbor, said.

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard has ordered summer school classes cancelled at 18 schools that do not have air conditioning.


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