SPRINGFIELD – Heat records are falling across the U.S. West and Southwest this week as a deadly heat wave scorches that portion of the country. While temperatures in Illinois aren’t expected to reach those extreme levels, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is urging people to recognize the dangers of extreme heat and stay safe during summer’s heat waves.
As part of its 2013 preparedness campaign, IEMA will focus on heat safety in July to help people avoid the hazards of summer’s heat.
“Extreme temperatures aren’t just uncomfortable, they can be deadly,” said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. “People often fail to recognize how dangerous hot weather can be, particularly for children, seniors, those with functional needs and pets. We’re working to help people recognize those dangers and the steps they can take to stay safe.”
Monken said one of the most important safety tips when temperatures rise is to never leave children, disabled adults or pets in parked cars. Each year, dozens of children and countless pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is an acute condition that occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day.
Temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The effects can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults.
“The record heat during July of last year not only took its toll on crops and livestock, but had a deadly impact on Illinois residents as well,” said Chris Miller, Warning Coordinator Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln. “There were reports of 32 deaths, as well as thousands of people who became ill, due to the effect of the hot weather. It is extremely important to stay hydrated with water or sports drinks and to get into an air-conditioned building frequently during hot days.”
Additional tips on how to protect yourself and others from heat-related illnesses are available on the state’s Ready Illinois website (www.Ready.Illinois.gov).