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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2006

Blagojevich Administration Officials Launch Keep Cool Illinois Campaign to help Illinois families stay safe, healthy and cool this summer
$8 million available for state’s summer energy assistance program

Seven State Agencies, Lieutenant Governor’s Office, City of Chicago, Lakewood Fan Company, National Weather Service and Clear Channel Radio work together to prevent heat-related health problems, reduce utility bills and promote safe summer fun
 
CHICAGO - Blagojevich Administration officials launched the Keep Cool Illinois campaign and website today to help all Illinoisans stay cool, healthy and safe this summer.  A comprehensive, statewide effort, the Keep Cool Illinois campaign, seeks to inform Illinois residents, especially the elderly, families with small children and persons with disabilities, how to prevent heat-related health problems, reduce their utility bills and participate in summer activities safely.
 
“Summers in Illinois can be very hot and humid, which can seriously impact people’s health and people’s pocketbooks,” said Governor Blagojevich.  “Through the Keep Cool Illinois campaign, we are expanding energy efficiency and assistance outreach to help as many families as possible save energy, save money and stay cool during this summer.”  
 
The Keep Cool Illinois campaign includes the www.keepcool.illinois.gov website, a statewide network of cooling centers, targeted outreach to vulnerable senior citizens, energy assistance programs, public service announcements, fire safety, water safety and other tips to help families across Illinois prepare for the summer.

The statewide, multi-agency campaign kicked off at Lakewood Engineering and Manufacturing Company, Inc. in Chicago with the Governor’s Special Director of Emergency Energy Assistance Ed Hurley, Directors from the Illinois Departments on Aging (IDoA), Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), Human Services (IDHS), Public Health (IDPH), the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA), the Deputy Directors of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), the Lt. Governor’s Office, the City of Chicago, the National Weather Service and Clear Channel Radio in Chicago.
 
“Every household in Illinois can take some simple steps to lower their utility bills this summer,” Hurley said.  “The Keep Cool Illinois campaign will offer useful information especially for young families and seniors across the state on how they can enjoy their summers safely and economically.  We also want those in need to take action now and access state assistance programs and resources that will help them stay safe, healthy and cool this summer.”
 
“As the hot summer days draw near and energy use skyrockets, we need to make efficient use of our energy sources and take care of our neighbors in need,” Lt. Governor Pat Quinn said.  “The Keep Cool Illinois campaign provides access to cooling centers and energy assistance funds that will bring precious relief to those Illinois citizens that need it most.”
 
The Keep Cool Illinois website: www.keepcool.illinois.gov offers various no-cost and low-cost energy saving tips, links to cooling centers and energy assistance programs, firework safety tips, West Nile virus prevention guides and other available state resources.  The Keep Cool Illinois hotline (877-411-9276) will be open July 1, 2006, and the Spanish version of the website will also soon be available as additional resources for Illinois residents to learn how to cut utility bills, receive energy assistance and stay cool and healthy this summer.
 
Keep Cooling Centers: As part of his Keep Cool Illinois campaign, Governor Blagojevich is making 130 state facilities available as cooling centers beginning today. The cooling centers will provide Illinoisans a place to stay cool and comfortable during the scorching hot days of summer.  The cooling centers are located at Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) offices throughout the state and will be open to the public during regular business hours so anyone seeking refuge from the heat has a cool place to go when the temperature climbs.  More information on the state’s cooling centers will be available by calling the IDHS toll-free hotline (800-843-6154) or you can search by zip code for the cooling center nearest you at www.keepcool.illinois.gov.
 
“The cooling centers will be an excellent place for Illinoisans to beat the heat this summer,” said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D.  “For those persons who have no air conditioning in their homes or no other cool place to go, the cooling centers will offer a clean, safe place to take refuge during the hottest part of the day.”
 
Clear Channel Radio: In partnership with the State of Illinois, Clear Channel Radio in Chicago has agreed to broadcast $100,000 worth of public service announcements for the Keep Cool Illinois campaign all summer long on all seven of its radio stations.
 
Senior Summer Safety: The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) will provide Summer Tips to seniors statewide through its network of Area Agencies on Aging.  The agency will also work to educate and provide materials outlining dangers associated with the summer weather, perform well-being checks on vulnerable seniors, provide cooling centers at senior centers, adult day service centers and nutrition sites as well as extend hours and provide transportation as requested.  Public Service Announcements will be used statewide to educate seniors about available services.

Seniors are at an increased risk especially if they take certain medications, drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition or who have conditions such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.  During heat emergencies, seniors are urged to contact their local Area Agencies on Aging or the Senior HelpLine (800-252-8966) for assistance with locating senior centers, adult day service sites and other familiar buildings that serve as cooling centers.

“The Keep Cool Illinois campaign will help older people learn how they can take steps now to avoid heat stress,” Aging Director Charles D. Johnson said.  “Although most of us bundle up against the cold, we often fail to recognize that extreme heat and humidity pose similar threats, particularly as we age.”
 
FAN Club Program: In the summer of 2005, Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn launched the FAN Club program that distributed about 1,000 fans through the Illinois Community Action Association to low-income households across Illinois.  The Department of Healthcare and Family Services gave half of the funds for the program.  The Lt. Governor will kick off the program again this summer.  In addition, the Keep Cool Illinois website offers a link to www.blackoutsolutions.org, a website sponsored by the Lt. Governor, that provides Illinois residents important tips on how to conserve energy and increase energy efficiency including a “Resident’s Guide to Warm Weather Energy Savings.”

Dehydration and Heat Stroke Prevention: The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) will provide information to Illinoisans on how to prevent and treat dehydration, which can occur from not drinking enough fluids, and heat stroke, which can be caused from overexposure to direct sunlight, with or without physical activity, or to very high indoor temperatures.
 
Energy Assistance Grants: If summer temperatures stay at dangerous levels, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) will open its Summer Cooling program. The program has the ability to distribute up to $8 million in Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) funds to low-income families to assist them with their utility bills, so they can keep their air conditioners and fans running.  Through LIHEAP, a state- and federally-funded energy assistance program, utility bill payments are made on behalf of households with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty level.   
 
“We all have a responsibility to do whatever we can to help Illinois families make it through the hot summer months ahead, especially our most vulnerable families,” said Barry Maram, Director of HFS.  “With this comprehensive initiative, we hope to assist more families than ever before.  I would urge all Illinoisans who believe they may be eligible to look into available state resources and the LIHEAP program before the hot weather arrives.”

Energy Efficiency Information: The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) provides information and technical assistance for people looking for ways to improve their energy efficiency at home or on the job.  Many energy efficiency options, such as improved air sealing, insulation and the use of Energy Star appliances, help reduce energy use year round.  DCEO will provide information on easy ways to save money and on available grant programs to help reduce energy costs.  Weatherization tips will also soon be available via streaming video from the Keep Cool website and the DCEO website at www.illinoisenergy.org.
 
“Governor Blagojevich and I are pleased to provide information to help people across Illinois reduce their energy costs and keep cool in the summer by improving the energy efficiency of their homes and businesses.  Many of the things that people can do to reduce their cooling costs will also reduce heating costs in the summer, and help reduce pollution at the same time,” DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.
 
Water Safety: IDPH will also provide information to Illinoisans on how to decrease the health and safety risks associated with swimming.  IDPH requires the state’s 3,500 swimming pools and spas meet water quality and safety standards.  IDPH enforces these rules and regulations through plan approvals and inspections.  To prevent illnesses associated with swimming at Illinois beaches, each licensed beach is inspected annually to determine that required safety features are in place and there are no sources of possible pollution such as sewage discharges.  IDPH also requires that each of the 335 licensed public beaches (excluding Chicago beaches, which are regulated by the Chicago Park District) be sampled every two weeks to determine that bacterial levels in the water are within established limits.  For more information on summer activity safety and summer health risks, please call IDPH at 217-782-4977 or visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/public/books/summtoc.htm to find the “Summer? No Sweat” Survival Guide published and distributed by IDPH.

 

West Nile Virus Prevention: IDPH will also urge Illinoisans to take precautions to prevent disease and injury while they “keep cool” this summer.  As part of the Governor’s Keep Cool Illinois campaign IDPH will continue to provide helpful tips to prevent West Nile.  The West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird.  Most people with the virus have no clinical symptoms of illness, but some may become ill three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.
 
Illinois Energy Efficient Affordable Housing Construction Program: DCEO has grants available to non-profit housing developers that include energy efficient building practices in the rehab or construction of affordable housing units.  These building practices often bring energy savings between 50 percent and 75 percent.
 
Lightning Safety Awareness: Each year in the United States, an average of 67 people are killed by lightning – more than those killed by tornadoes.  Most lightning fatalities and injuries occur outdoors at recreational events (baseball games, soccer games, lakes and on golf courses) and under or near trees.  Under the Governor’s Keep Cool Illinois campaign, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will join with the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to help residents understand how to stay safe when lightning strikes.  A lightning safety awareness booklet is available on the IEMA website (www.state.il.us/iema) and a outdoor safety tips brochure will be available at all state park visitors centers this summer.
 
“After a long, cold winter, people in Illinois are excited to be able to participate in their favorite outdoor activities, like boating, swimming, golfing and various other sports,” said William C. Burke, IEMA director.  “We want everyone to enjoy the summer to the fullest and to do so safely.  Knowing what to do when bad weather approaches can keep your summer fun from turning into tragedy.”
 
Fireworks safety: While fireworks are a traditional part of Fourth of July celebrations, many people are seriously injured each year by careless or untrained use of fireworks.  New fireworks regulations that went into effect this year in Illinois should decrease the number of fireworks-related injuries by ensuring that fireworks are only used by people who meet safety standards.  The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has information about the new fireworks regulations and other fireworks safety tips on their website at www.state.il.us/osfm.
 
“Everyone loves a great fireworks display on the Fourth of July, and this year those displays should be safer for everyone, the display operator and spectators alike,” said State Fire Marshal David Foreman.  “The state’s new regulations will ensure that anyone who sets off fireworks in Illinois meets safety standards that will help prevent serious injuries, deaths and fires caused by careless or untrained use of fireworks.”
 
Air Pollution Action Days: The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) and the Partners for Clean air throughout the hot summer months will continue to alert the public on Air Pollution Action Days, when air pollution increases due to heat and sun.  Daily reports of air quality measurements are provided to the media in order to notify the public that levels of air pollution pose a health risk, especially for those with respiratory or heart illnesses.  These notices alert individuals in Chicago, northwest Indiana, and Metro East that low winds and high temperatures have the potential to elevate pollution to unhealthy levels.  The goal is to encourage individuals and businesses to take actions to reduce pollution as well as alert the public.  More information can be found at: www.cleantheair.org, and for more green tips visit the Illinois EPA online at: www.epa.state.il.us
 
“There are ‘green actions’ individuals can take to reduce air pollution.  Some of those actions are as simple as limiting driving and opting to walk or ride a bike, and using E85 in your flexible fuel vehicle,” said IEPA Director Doug Scott.  “By following these small steps, each citizen will be able to collectively reduce emissions and enjoy the great outdoors Illinois has to offer.” 
 
Office of Emergency Energy Assistance: Last year, the Governor appointed a Special Director of Emergency Energy Assistance to marshal resources from the public and private sectors and to coordinate assistance to vulnerable populations impacted by record-high heating costs.  The Special Director works with utilities, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and other state agencies to ensure the public’s best interest is protected. 
 
Last summer, Governor Blagojevich was able to successfully negotiate with the Illinois utility companies to have them waive administrative re-connection fees and security deposits for LIHEAP customers, so grant funds can go directly toward covering actual usage charges, allowing the state to help more households cover heating costs.
 
Last winter, Governor Blagojevich launched the Keep Warm Illinois campaign and website to help all Illinoisans stay warm, healthy and safe throughout the winter.  The Keep Warm Illinois campaign was also a comprehensive effort to inform and prepare Illinois residents for record high home heating costs.  It included unprecedented coordination between state agencies as well as a statewide public awareness effort in partnership with community colleges and Clear Channel Radio in Chicago to help inform Illinoisans about winter preparations and resources available. 


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