Southland officials prepare for record scorcher
BY HANNAH KOHUT Correspondent June 27, 2012 10:02PM
Julian Velazquez stays cool Wednesday in Tinley Park, with the help of some ice cream bought by his mom. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Southland cooling centers
(Partial list; hours vary)
Bloom Township, 425 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights
Bremen Township, 15350 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Forest
Bremen Township, 16361 S. Kedzie Parkway, Markham
Calumet Township, 12633 S. Ashland Ave., Calumet Park
Chicago Heights City Hall, 1601 Chicago Road
Chicago Heights Public Library, 25 W. 15th St.
Chicago Ridge Senior Center, 10455 S. Ridgeland Ave.
Frankfort Administration Building, 432 W. Nebraska St.
Frankfort Township Building, 11000 W. Lincoln Highway, Frankfort
Homer Township Administration Building, 14350 W. 151st St., Homer Glen
Lemont Park District, 16020 W. 127th St.
Lemont Township, 16028 W. 127th St.
Lockport Central Square Building, 222 E. 9th St.
Manhattan Fire Station No. 1, 100 Park Road
Mokena Village Hall, 11004 Carpenter St.
Mokena Public Library, 11327 W. 195th St.
Mokena School District, 11244 Willowcrest Lane
Monee Village Hall, 5130 W. Court St.
Monee Police Station, 5357 Main St.
New Lenox Guy Sell Senior Housing Community Room, 1090 S. Cedar Road
New Lenox Police Station, 701 W. Haven Ave.
Oak Lawn Senior Center, 5330 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn Library, 9427 S. Raymond Ave.
Oak Lawn Racquet Club, 10444 S. Central Ave.
Oak Lawn Community Pavilion, 9401 S. Oak Park Ave.
Orland Park Police Department, 15100 S. Ravinia Ave.
Orland Park Old Village Hall, 14500 S. Beacon Ave.
Orland Park Civic Center, 14800 S. Ravinia Ave.
Orland Township, 14807 S. Ravinia Ave., Orland Park
Palos Township, 10802 S. Roberts Road, Palos Hills
Park Forest Police Station, 200 Lakewood Blvd.
Park Forest Village Hall, 350 Victory Drive
Park Forest Library, 400 Lakewood Blvd.
Rich Township, 22013 Governors Highway, Richton Park
Steger Village Hall, 35 W. 34th St.
Steger Community Center, 3501 Hopkins
Stickney Township, 7745 S. Leamington Ave., Burbank
Thornton Township, 333 E. 162nd St., South Holland
Tinley Park Senior Community Center, 17355 S. 68th Court
Tinley Park Police Department, 7850 W. 183rd St.
Washington Township, 30200 Town Center Road, Beecher
Worth Township, 11601 S. Pulaski Road, Alsip
The state also has opened Illinois Department of Human Services offices and tollway oases as cooling centers during regular business hours.
Updated: July 29, 2012 5:11PM
Pay heed to your pets, watch your watering, check on your elderly neighbors.
As temperatures rise — perhaps to more than 100 degrees Thursday, some forecasts say — the number of precautions one should take to beat the heat rises as well.
Southland officials are offering tips and plenty of places to duck into to stay cool — especially for those without air conditioning — as a hot, dry summer continues, with record-breaking temperatures expected.
“The extreme weather conditions, with minimal rain in the forecast, have everyone’s attention,” Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin said.
But one place no one should head to cool off is the Oak Lawn Park District’s Centennial Aquatics Center, 9401 S. Nashville Ave. In a case of horrific timing, it will be closed Thursday for electrical upgrades.
“Sorry for any inconvenience,” the park district said in a news release.
Then again, it might be too hot to swim.
Meteorologists at the National Weather Service offices in Romeoville are predicting a steady stream of dry, hot air will blow through the area for the next week, possibly even for the rest of the summer. This has been the ninth-warmest June in Chicago, and starting Wednesday, a dome of hot air that has been “cooking” the Midwest is settling overhead, hiking temperatures to the mid-90s, meteorologist Stephen Rodriguez said.
On Thursday, it could reach 100 degrees. A weak cool front will bring some relief by Friday, but temperatures still will be in the 90s through early next week. And there’s only a slight chance of rain from Thursday night through the weekend.
“The relief on Friday will come in terms of humidity, some drier air trying to work its way in,” Rodriguez said.
Temperatures could continue to be above normal for the next three months, with precipitation below normal, he said, according to the one- to three-month outlook.
Thursday’s heat advisory goes into effect at noon and remains in place until 8 p.m., according to the National Weather Service’s Chicago office.
The air is on
Dozens of Southland locations will be operating as cooling centers for the homeless, those without air conditioning, or those who just need a place to duck into if they’re out in the heat too long.
Prolonged exposure to the heat and physical activity could lead to sunstroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion if proper precautions are not taken, the weather service said in a statement.
Wearing light and loose fitting clothing, drinking plenty of water and rescheduling strenuous activities to the early morning or evening can help reduce the risks, it said.
Heat causes more fatalities in the United States than any other weather event, according to the weather service, killing more people annually than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined.
Most of the cooling centers where folks can seek refuge are village halls, police and fire departments, public libraries and other municipal buildings.
The site for the homeless run by South Suburban PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter), at 414 W. Lincoln Highway in Chicago Heights, “won’t turn anyone away who is in need,” assistant executive director Michael Cobb said. But it only has 35 beds, which are full, he said.
The Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge is seeing an increase in the number of animals coming into the shelter overheated with temperatures as high as 107 degrees, the shelter said in a news release. Temperatures this high can lead to seizures, brain damage and even death, it said.
The shelter recommends that owners never leave a pet in a parked car, don’t leave pets outside for long periods of time, and make sure they have fresh, cold water.
If a pet becomes overheated, get it into a shaded, cool place immediately and apply cool water to its entire body, apply ice packs or cold towels to its head, neck and chest, and get it to a veterinarian immediately, the shelter said.
Many municipalities already have enacted outdoor watering restrictions, but they may be monitored more closely during this heat wave.
Tinley Park is reminding its residents that water conservation is critical to maintain a safe water supply for fire protection purposes.
“We are enacting our normal watering restrictions as of now, but those are subject to change,” director of emergency management Pat Carr said. “We are keeping an eye on that (heat) advisory and monitoring it.”
Orland Park is encouraging residents to skip a watering cycle entirely.
An advisory from the Cook County Department of Public Health said the warm, dry weather has created optimal conditions for ticks, whose bites can cause Lyme disease, a potentially serious illness.
Ticks positive for the bacterium that causes Lyme disease have been identified in some Southland forest preserve areas, the county health department said.
Interim chief operating officer Sandra Martell said residents should continue to enjoy the preserves but should wear repellent and check themselves for ticks, which are found in and around wooded areas, tall grass and brush. Checking your children and checking hair closely is recommended. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants will help create a “tick barrier,” the health department said in a news release.
Ticks should be removed slowly with tweezers.
Early symptoms of Lyme disease include a characteristic “bull’s-eye” rash, consisting of an expanding reddened area, sometimes with a clear area in the middle, at the original site of the tick bite. The rash may expand in size to cover a very large area, or can appear in several places on other parts of the body. Other symptoms may include fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, chills, and pain in the muscles or joints.
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/ticks.
Contributing: Janet Lundquist, Sun-Times Media wire