It's hot out there

Posted: 7/16/2010

From Daily Herald:

The mercury is rising, and before you reply, "Duh - it's July," keep in mind that heat kills more Americans every year than do hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods and lightning combined, according to AARP.

Temperatures are expected to hit 90 or higher every day through Sunday, and the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory that includes Will County, saying the heat index - a measure of the combined effects of heat and humidity - could rise to 105 degrees. Kane County also issued an extreme heat watch for residents, and Cook County advised residents to limit outdoor exertion and drink plenty of fluids.

Since last summer had only four 90-degree days, here's a refresher on what to do:

Medical concerns
Older people are more vulnerable to the heat, in part because they don't feel it as much as younger people and may not do enough to stay cool, studies have shown.

Heart disease makes the heat more dangerous. In 60 percent of heat-related deaths cardiovascular disease was the underlying cause, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Diuretics, heart medications and other drugs also might make a person less able to handle heat.

If you're over 65, drink plenty of fluids, stay in air conditioning and ask someone to check on you daily. If you're under 65, you're the one who should do the checking. Call or visit older neighbors and relatives at least once a day.

Breathe easy
When temperatures are over 85, air pollution from smog increases.
said Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.

People with asthma or other respiratory problems should stay in air-conditioned spaces, but others also can feel the difference.

To check how bad the air pollution is, go to airnow.gov, which gives readings each afternoon around 4 p.m. and listed Thursday's local air quality as "moderate."

Subscribers can get free e-mail and text alerts about when the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups or for the general public.

Help the grid
About 16,000 customers lose power on a typical day for various reasons, but the heat so far isn't causing outages, ComEd reports.

Power usage is running about 21,000 megawatts a day, compared to a record 23,600 megawatts in the heat wave of August 2007, spokesman Jeff Burdick said.

You can help keep the power grid humming by running appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers and dryers at night. Use your microwave to cook, do your laundry in cold water and turn off your computer monitor and printer when not in use. Don't be fooled by the screen saver - a monitor left on overnight uses as much power as making 800 laser prints, says eartheasy.com.

Air conditioners have one output level, so cranking the thermostat down won't cool the house any quicker, it will just make the unit run longer, Burdick said.

ComEd workers stay on the job in the heat wave, but carry extra water and get more frequent breaks to cool down in vehicles, he said.

Need to cool off?
The state lists cooling centers at www2.illinois.gov/keepcool/Pages/default.aspx.
DuPage County keeps a list of cooling centers and tips for safety in the heat at co.dupage.il.us. The cooling sites include park district and township buildings, libraries and police stations in virtually every community during daytime hours.

Similarly, Kane County recommends people without their own air conditioning get to a public facility such as their city or village hall, police station or county government building.
Don't overlook local stores, restaurants or movie theaters - where you might even have to bring a sweater.

Pet safety
With their fur coats and very limited ability to sweat, animals are far more susceptible to heat stroke than humans.

Ron DeHaven, chief executive officer of the American Veterinary Medical Association in Schaumburg, tells how to protect your pet:
  • Keep your pet indoors in the air conditioning.
  • Always keep drinking water where your pet can get to it. Drinking water and panting are the primary ways animals cool down.
  • Don't exercise animals in the heat of the day, and keep them off hot asphalt.
  • Never leave your pet alone in a car. Even with the windows cracked, temperatures can rise 40 degrees in an hour, causing heat stroke or death within minutes.

Signs of heat stroke include abnormal panting, a rapid heart rate, staggering, listlessness, dark red or purple tongue or gums, and vomiting. First aid includes giving your pet cold water or ice, putting a cold wet towel around its neck, getting in an air-conditioned room or car and calling a veterinarian. For more information, see ava.org.

It's hot, to a degree
"If you don't like the weather in Chicago, wait 5 minutes and it'll change" - or so the saying goes. Unfortunately, that's not going to be the case with this latest heat wave. Forecasters are predicting hot and humid temperatures for at least the next seven days.

That also means the "Sure is hot" comment in the elevator, in the line at the grocery store or around the water cooler at work is going to get old pretty fast. So we thought we'd give you some random heat facts that you can toss out instead. (All temperatures are average and in Fahrenheit)
  • 2700°: The temperature at which glass starts to melt
  • 68°: The maximum temperature on Mars
  • 102°: Average temperature of a cat
  • 100°: Average temperature of a box turtle
  • 93.3°: Average body temperature of a male Klingon
  • 9,032°-12,632°: Estimated temperature at the Earth's core
  • 265°: The temperature most cars' "overheated" light turns on
  • 136°-158°: Average temperature of your hard drive (really depends on type of PC)
  • 10°: Amount urban areas are hotter, an average, than rural areas (due to infrastructure holding in heat and light)
  • 90°: Average high temperature in Miami during July and August. Enjoy, LeBron.

Original here