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Heat Means Danger For Seniors, Kids

Chicago resident Eddie Richardson uses a fan to keep cool at his apartment during a July 2011 heat wave. Many air conditioners at his building had to be removed while management put in new windows. (Credit: CBS)

Chicago resident Eddie Richardson uses a fan to keep cool at his apartment during a July 2011 heat wave. Many air conditioners at his building had to be removed while management put in new windows. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The heat wave that has left Chicagoans sweating for the past two days is nothing to fool around with. It can be deadly, especially for senior citizens.

As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, city officials repeatedly urge city residents in the summer to check on seniors who are living alone.

The heat can also be dangerous for kids who play in open fire hydrants to stay cool.

“When the hydrants are on the children tend to go out in the street. The spray from the hydrant obscures the driver’s vision,” Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff said. “We’ve had several children hit by cars in the past years because of … kids playing in the street. Parents have to take them to the park – they’ve got spray bars, they’ve got the pools – that’s the place to go.”

City officials also reminded residents on Tuesday to check on any neighbors or relatives who are senior citizens and, if you can’t get to them, call 311 to request a well-being check.

By 10 a.m. Tuesday, city workers had already responded to a half dozen requests for well being checks. At 10:30 a.m., they were on the corner of Roosevelt Road and Kedzie Avenue at a multi-unit building where a number of residents like Melvin Phinisee were complaining.

“It’s very hot in the apartments, at least 110, it’s very hot, very hot,” Phinisee said.

That’s why he was outside, along with others who found a cool spot in the shade or sat in the air conditioned lobby.

The problem, Phinisee said, is the building is being remodeled and some tenants had to remove their air conditioning units so that crews could replace their windows and, eventually, install air conditioning units in all the apartments.

“But we don’t know when that time will be,” Phinisee said.

Management admitted that most units won’t be ready this week.

In the meantime, people like Eddie Richardson were keeping their fans on high, their windows open and their shades down. But Richardson was still constantly wiping sweat from his brow.

Like the others, he was seeking relief outside because keeping cool is important.

“I have heart problems, back problems,” he said. “”It’s rough, it’s rough.”

It’s seniors like Richardson that city workers will check on again, because the heat wave is expected to last through the week.

“It will continue to get hotter and hotter,” said Chandra Libby, with the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services. So even though some people are okay today, they may not be tomorrow.

City workers responded to 59 well being checks on Monday. Officials said there’s a good chance that number will increase every day as the weather gets hotter and more and more people become concerned about seniors.