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CHICAGO (CBS) — The string of hot and humid days can have a cumulative effect on people’s health, and everyone is being urged to use caution as the temperature threatens to top 100 degrees.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports, in the past two days, the city has had 81 well being checks and about 300 people have utilized the city’s cooling centers.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Lisa Fielding reports
Office of Emergency Management and Communications executive director Gary Schenkel says relatively, those numbers are low, due in part to neighbors looking out for each other in Chicago Housing Authority developments and elsewhere.
“Fire and police can’t respond if they don’t know if something is wrong. Neighbors are taking steps,” he said. “CHA says residents there are making it part of their daily routine. That’s making a tremendous difference.”
In 1995, there were more than 700 heat-related deaths in Chicago over a five day period, as the temperature hit a record-setting 106 degrees.
City officials acknowledge that the next few days will be dangerously hot, but 16 years later, they say they are better prepared.
“I think there have been multiple advances, especially on the technology side. I refer back to the caution people are taking and the attention they are paying to their neighbors. That is the key right there,” Schenkel said.
The Fire Department says its most serious problem is people opening up fire hydrants to stay cool. More than 800 calls on open hydrants have been placed in the last couple of days.
“Open fire hydrants cause us many problems. One is our time, our delayed time to get water out of the hydrant. We have to shut it down, and reconnect to get water for the fires. So please, if hydrants are on, call 311,” said Fire Commissioner Bob Hoff.
ComEd says it is on standby with extra crews on hand for any possible power outages or overloads.
If you have to be outside, health officials say drink plenty of water, wear light, loose fighting clothes. and be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.