"This heat wave is extremely dangerous and should not be
underestimated. That's why it's important for everyone --
particularly seniors, families with young children, and those with
disabilities -- [to] take advantage of the resources the state of
Illinois has to offer, including local cooling centers and $9
million to help families struggling to pay for utility costs,"
Blagojevich said. "I am also urging Illinois residents to take some
simple steps, like drinking plenty of water and limiting outdoor
activities, to protect themselves and their loved ones from the
The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat advisories
throughout much of the Plains region, Upper Midwest and Mississippi
Valley. More than 20 states broke 100 degrees last week.
Earlier this month, the Illinois Department of Human Services
made more than 100 office buildings throughout the state available
to serve as cooling centers. The centers are open all day and offer
Illinoisans a safe and cool place to get out of the intense heat.
[See list of cooling centers.]
In addition, the governor directed the Department of Healthcare
and Family Services to make $8 million in state and federal funding
available through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program's summer
cooling program, to protect vulnerable populations from dangerous
weather conditions and assist them with their household energy
bills. ComEd gave the department another $1 million for the LIHEAP
program last week. Through the LIHEAP summer cooling program,
electricity bill payments will be made on behalf of vulnerable
residents at risk of losing electric service.
LIHEAP is a state- and federally funded energy assistance program
that assists households with incomes of up to 150 percent of the
federal poverty level. A single-person household can qualify with a
monthly income of up to $1,225, a two-person household up to $1,650,
and a family of four can earn up to $2,500. Benefits will be paid
directly to the household's electric utility.
Individuals can apply for the energy grant at 100 local LIHEAP
agencies around the state. These agencies will accept applications
from eligible households on a first-come, first-served basis through
Aug. 18, or until funding for the summer program is exhausted.
The governor also offered tips to stay healthy in the heat. The
most common heat-related conditions are heatstroke, heat exhaustion,
heat cramps, sunburn and heat rash. Heatstroke and heat exhaustion
are the most serious conditions and can become serious or even
deadly if unattended.
If seniors raise their thermostats to reduce cooling bills, they
put themselves at risk of developing heat-related problems. Seniors
are at an increased risk especially if they take certain
medications, drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition or have conditions
such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's
Here are some lifesaving tips on how to avoid heat-related
Use a buddy
system. If you are working in the heat, check on co-workers and
have someone else do the same for you. If you are at home and
are 65 years of age or older or have a chronic health problem,
ask a friend, relative or neighbor check on you at least twice a
day, even if you have air conditioning. If you know someone who
is 65 years of age or older or who has a chronic health problem,
check on them at least twice a day.
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activities. Try to plan activities for the coolest times of the
day -- before noon and in the evening. When physically active,
rest frequently in the shade.
Drink plenty of
fluids. During hot weather, you will need to drink more liquid
than your thirst indicates. Even if you remain indoors and limit
your activity, your body still needs to replace lost fluids,
salt and minerals. Make an extra effort to drink a minimum of
six to eight eight-ounce glasses of cool fluids daily. During
heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses
of cool fluids each hour. Parents should be sure young children
get sufficient fluids. If you are on a special fluid-restricted
diet or if you take diuretics, ask your physician about fluid
intake during hot weather.
Protect your body.
Wear as little clothing as possible when indoors, and wear
light-colored, loose-fitting clothing outdoors. When spending
time outdoors, avoid direct sunlight, wear a hat and use a
sunscreen with a sun protection factor greater than 15 to
protect yourself against sunburn.
children, the elderly or pets in a parked car, not even for just
a few minutes. The air temperature inside a car rises rapidly
during hot weather and can lead to brain damage or death.
A final reminder:
Take care of your pets. In many ways, dogs and cats react to hot
weather as humans do. Offer pets extra water, and be sure to
place the water dish in a shaded area if outdoors. Make sure
pets have a protected place where they can get away from the
If you must go outside, slow down and avoid strenuous activity.
If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the early morning or
late evening hours when it is cooler. Take regular breaks when
engaged in physical activity on warm days. Try to rest often in
shady or cool areas. Anyone showing signs of a heat-related illness
should stop activity and find a cool place.
To help all Illinoisans stay healthy, safe and cool this summer,
the governor launched the statewide, comprehensive Keep Cool
Illinois campaign and website last month. The Keep Cool Illinois
campaign is multiagency effort to inform Illinois residents,
especially the elderly, families with small children, homeless and
people with disabilities, how to prevent heat-related health
problems, reduce utility bills and participate in summer activities
safely. For more information on how Illinoisans can avoid health
complications brought on by the heat, apply for energy assistance
grants or find cooling centers in local communities, call
1-877-411-9276 or visit
The Keep Cool Illinois website and toll-free line offer various
no-cost and low-cost energy savings tips, links to energy assistance
programs, fireworks safety tips, West Nile virus prevention guides,
a list of cooling center locations and other available state
In addition to the website and the statewide network of cooling
centers, the Keep Cool Illinois campaign included 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.