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Dangerous heat wave rolling into Chicago area, forecasters warn

Southsider Payshance Williams, 6, dances near the fountain in Daley Plaza Wednesday. Her Great-Aunt Denise White brought her there to cool off. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

High temperatures and high humidity are on the horizon for the Chicago area and forecasters warn the combination could result in dangerous conditions the next few days.

The National Weather Service forecasts temperatures in the mid-90s, with a heat index of up to 115 for Thursday and Friday, and says the potentially dangerous heat and humidity will linger into Saturday.

An “excessive heat watch” has been issued for the following Illinois counties: Cook, Lake, DeKalb, DuPage, Kendall, Kane, Will, McHenry, Winnebago and Boone.

Temperatures haven’t hit triple digits in Chicago since July 17, 2012, according to the National Weather Service.

Metra cautions the extreme temperatures may cause delays of up to 15 minutes.

“Try and stay in air-conditioned places,” said Dr. Robert Feldman, disaster director of the Cook County Health and Hospital System.

If that isn’t possible, Feldman suggested drinking plenty of fluids, staying in the shade and avoiding physical exertion.

Long sleeves and pants can be “lethal” in this weather, he said, urging light, loose-fitting clothing.

If you must work outside, take breaks in the shade and drink plenty of water — just water, he said.

“Unless you’re running a marathon in the heat, you don’t need the power drinks,” he said.

Dangerously hot conditions can lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, Feldman said. Dehydration and leg cramps are often symptoms of heat cramps. Anyone who notices these symptoms should rest and drink fluids.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include dry-mouth, cramps, weakness or dizziness. If resting and water don’t make you feel better in an hour or so, Feldman said, you should call for help.

Heat stroke has many of the same symptoms as heat exhaustion, but if someone is suddenly confused, nauseous, or not sweating, Feldman cautioned residents to call 911 immediately.

The elderly and those with heart and lung conditions or diabetes are especially susceptible to heat illness, he said.

“Residents should be careful not to leave children or pets in the car,” Feldman said. “It only takes a couple of minutes for the car to become dangerous.”

The Department of Family and Support Services operates cooling centers throughout the city, but residents are advised to also call 311 to find the center closest to them as hours may be extended and locations may change. Standard hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday:

  • Englewood Center, 1140 W. 79th St.
  • Garfield Center, 10 S. Kedzie Ave.
  • King Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
  • North Area Center, 845 W. Wilson Ave.;
  • South Chicago Center, 8650 S. Commercial Ave.;
  • Trina Davila Center, 4312 W. North Ave.

Cook County officials also released a list of cooling centers for those in need, some of which will come pick you up if needed:

  • Berwyn Library, 2700 S. Harlem; 9 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays and until 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday; 708-788-266
  • Berwyn Police Department, 6401 W. 31st St.; open 24 hours a day; 708-795-2150
  • Bloom Township Village Building, 425 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights; 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays; 708-754-9400
  • Bremen Township Community Center, 15350 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Forest; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays; 708-333-9530
  • Bremen Township Administrative Office, 16361 S. Kedzie Pkwy., Markham; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; 708-333-9530
  • Calumet Township Community Center, 12633 Ashland Ave., Calumet Park; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays; 708-388-6606
  • Cicero Village Building, 4949 W. Cermak Rd.; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays; 708-656-3600
  • Cicero Police Office, 4901 W. Cermak Rd.; 8 p.m.-8 a.m. weekdays, open 24 hours on weekends; 708-656-3600
  • Cicero Public Safety Building, 5410 W. 34th St.; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays; 708-656-3600
  • Cicero Community Center, 2250 S. 49th Ave.; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays; 708-656-3600
  • Elk Grove Township, 2400 S. Arlington Hts. Rd., Arlington Heights; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays; 847-437-0300
  • Hanover Township, 240 S. Illinois Rt. 59, Bartlett; 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays, and until 12:30 p.m. Saturdays; 630-483-5600
  • Leyden Township, 2620 N. Mannheim Rd., Franklin Park; 6 a.m.-9 p.m. weekdays and until 3 p.m. Saturdays; 847-451-5144
  • Lyons Township, 6404 W. Joliet Rd., Countryside; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays; 708-482-8300
  • Maine Township, 1700 Ballard Rd., Park Ridge; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; 847-297-2510
  • Niles Township, 5255 Main St., Skokie; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays; 847-673-9300
  • Norwood Park Township, 7833 W. Lawrence, Norridge; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays; 708-453-0861
  • Oak Park Township, 130 S. Oak Park Ave.; 8 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays, for ages 60 and over; 708-383-8060
  • Orland Township, 14807 Ravinia Ave., Orland Park; 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays; 708-403-4222
  • Palatine Township, 721 S. Quentin Rd., Palatine; 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday, 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturday; 847-358-6700
  • Palos Township, 10802 S. Roberts Rd., Palos Hills; 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays; 708-598-4418
  • Proviso Township, 4565 Harrison St., Hillside; 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays; 708-449-4300
  • Riverside Township, 47 Riverside Rd., Riverside; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays; 708-442-4400
  • Stickney Township, 7745 S. Leamington, Burbank; 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays; 708-636-8850
  • Barrington Public Safety Building, 400 N. Northwest Hwy.; open 24 hours a day; 847-304-3400
  • Barrington Train Station, 201 S. Spring St.; 5 a.m.-10 p.m. weekdays in main station, 6 a.m.-2 a.m. daily at west end of station; 847-304-3400
  • Wheeling Township, 1616 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday; 847-259-7730
  • Worth Township, 11601 S. Pulaski Rd., Alsip; 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays; 708-371-2900

Residents are advised to contact the cooling center first to make sure it is open.