CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago is about to get a dangerous dose of hot weather, and authorities are warning residents to take precautions now.
They are trying to avoid a repeat of 1995, when hundreds of people died during dangerously hot weather.
CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot on Friday talked with two people who have no air-conditioning because they can’t afford to pay their electric bill.
Gary Niesel’s home will be heating up this weekend, as temperatures hit the 90s and above.
“Hopefully, (I’ll) go down to the lake,” he said Friday. “It’s close enough. There’s usually a breeze off the lake and just make the best of it.”
Niesel’s been unemployed for four years. Making matters worse, he just got out of the hospital after having a toe amputated because of diabetes. He’s moving in with his friend, Ingred Zods, while he recovers.
Unfortunately, she also won’t have air-conditioning during the heat wave because of an unpaid bill.
“We’re going to do whatever it takes, you know,” Zods said. “We do have somewhat of a breeze coming through, so it helps.”
Forecasters say the expected humidity and heat — primarily at night — will be much like what was felt during the heat wave of 1995, when hundreds of people died from the heat.
“Extreme heat and humidity are more than an inconvenience — they are dangerous and can be deadly,” Bechara Choucair, the city’s commissioner of public health, said at a news conference.
The city is asking people to make use of the numerous cooling centers throughout the city. Niesel says he will, if necessary.
“If worse comes to worse, that’s in our plans. I know libraries and police stations that are available for that,” he said.
Com Ed officials say the utility is ready to handle what’s expected when the temperature soars. Hundreds of thousands of customers lost power after Monday’s high-wind storms.
“We are keeping crews working over the weekend so that our system is back in normal configuration, prepared for the high heat,” Mike Guerra, ComEd’s vice president of external affairs, said.
ComEd offers one-time assistance to qualifying customers who are having trouble paying their bill. Call (888) 806-2273 for information.