CHICAGO (CBS) — With temperatures expected to hit the 90s every day this weekend, the city is putting out a plan to make sure everyone stays safe from the heat during the July 4th weekend.
“Working together, we will be able to stay as safe as possible when we have warm weather this July,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
Although it won’t be quite hot enough for the city to activate its extreme heat emergency plan, city officials said the Department of Family and Support Services will have a cooling center open at the Garfield Center at 10 S. Kedzie Av. this weekend, open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fourteen public libraries also will be open on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Office of Emergency Management and Communications executive director Richard Guidice said the city would activate its emergency heat plan if the National Weather Service forecasts heat indexes of 105 degrees or hotter for at least two days in a row; which isn’t the case this weekend. Under that plan, the city would open additional cooling centers, deploy cooling buses, and conduct well-being checks on registered households through its 311 system. Residents can register for the city’s emergency alert system at NotifyChicago.org.
Chicago Park District Supt. Michael Kelly said parks will be open this weekend, but visitors should not use them as a space to set of fireworks. He also said anyone barbecuing in parks should not dump coals at the base of trees, and instead douse hot coals with water and use designated red used coal receptacles.
Kelly also said, while the lakefront is open, the beaches remain closed, so people should not go in the water, and should keep moving if they visit the lakefront. He said people also need to observe proper social distancing, and should wear masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The city will have social distancing ambassadors, dressed in blue shirts, deployed along the lakefront to help remind people to keep moving. Kelly said police also will patrol the beaches, but will focus on reminding people of the rules.
“We’re all in this together in Chicago, and we need all of us to participate. We certainly don’t want to get in a situation where we’re arresting people, or writing tickets, or any confrontation whatsoever. We’re asking people to use their heads, wear their masks. If you’re on the lakefront, keep moving, but don’t go in the water,” he said.
Arwady said people should drink lots of water and stay in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible. If you do go outside, you should take breaks in air conditioning as often as possible. She also urged people to check on relatives and neighbors.
“We always want to remind residents to take care of themselves, but also to think of others, particularly if there are people who are older, or people who have underlying medical conditions. If it gets hot, it’s the time to check on them, and make sure that they have a plan for cooling,” Arwady said.
City officials said people also should be aware of the signs and symptoms of heatstroke and heat exhaustion when there is extreme heat. The telltale signs of a heatstroke are:
- An extremely high body temperature, such as 103°F or above
- Dizziness and nausea
- A throbbing headache and a pulse that is rapid and strong
- Skin that is red, hot and dry
If you see someone suffering from heatstroke, call 911 right away, and try to move the person someplace cool, and give them water.
The city also operates six cooling centers that are open Mondays through Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. whenever the city’s emergency heat response plan is activated, or in other extreme conditions:
- Englewood Center, 1140 W. 79th Street
- Garfield Center, 10 S. Kedzie Ave.
- King Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove
- North Area Center, 845 W. Wilson Ave.
- South Chicago Center, 8650 S. Commercial Ave.
- Trina Davila Center, 4312 W. North Ave.
In a heat emergency, the city also often opens other public buildings as cooling centers, including libraries, park district buildings, and City Colleges facilities.
Additional emergency preparedness information and tips are available on OEMC’s website: chicago.gov/oemc.