Friday, June 13, 2008
sponsored by Lee's Home Furnishings Outlet

Keep Cool Illinois campaign launched to help families stay cool, safe and healthy this summer

$10 million available this summer for energy assistance program

State agencies and the National Weather Service work together to prevent heat-related health problems and reduce utility bills

Send a link to a friend

[June 13, 2008]  CHICAGO -- Blagojevich administration officials launched the 2008 Keep Cool Illinois campaign and online site Thursday to help families stay cool, healthy and safe this summer. Keep Cool Illinois is a comprehensive, statewide effort to inform state residents -- especially the elderly, families with small children and people with disabilities -- how to prevent heat-related health problems, reduce their utility bills and participate in summer activities safely. Also, as part of the campaign, low-income residents can apply for assistance with their summer energy bills, starting July 7.

Chiropractic"Illinois' hot and humid summers can be dangerous for seniors, people with disabilities and small children. As the mercury rises, the high temperatures can put a strain on people's health and their pocketbooks," said Blagojevich. "Through the Keep Cool Illinois campaign, we are trying to help as many people as we can save energy, save money and stay cool this summer."

The Keep Cool Illinois campaign includes the site, along with a statewide network of cooling centers, targeted outreach to vulnerable senior citizens, energy assistance programs, public service announcements, fire safety information, water safety information and other tips to help families across Illinois prepare for the summer.

Auto Repair

The statewide campaign involves the Illinois Department on Aging, Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Department of Human Services, Department of Public Health, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and the lieutenant governor's office.

Energy assistance grants: The Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services will launch its Summer Cooling program on July 7. Through the program, the department has the ability to distribute up to $10 million in Low Income Home Energy Assistance 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.

"The extreme heat of the summer can pose a serious threat to the health and well-being of Illinoisans, but often, low-income families are hesitant to use air conditioning because of the burden of high energy costs," said HFS Director Barry S. Maram. "That's why we administer the LIHEAP program, which helps our most vulnerable residents pay for the cost of cooling their homes and gives them the confidence and peace of mind to do so. I encourage people to log onto to find out about these and other available state resources."


Energy efficiency information: The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity 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. The department 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 site and at

The Keep Cool Illinois online site,, offers various no-cost and low-cost energy-saving tips, links to cooling centers and energy assistance programs, fireworks safety tips, West Nile virus prevention guides, and other available state resources. The Keep Cool Illinois toll-free line, 877-411-9276, as well a Spanish version of the online site provide additional resources for Illinois residents to learn how to cut utility bills, receive energy assistance, and stay cool and healthy this summer.

Health Care

Cooling centers: As part of his Keep Cool Illinois campaign, Blagojevich is making more than 120 state facilities available as cooling centers beginning now. 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 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 department's toll-free number, 800-843-6154. To find out where the nearest cooling center is, people can also search by ZIP code at

"Many low-income Illinoisans have no air conditioning in their homes or no other cool place to go to escape the heat," said IDHS Secretary Carol L. Adams, Ph.D. "The cooling centers offer a clean, safe place to cool off during the hottest part of the day."

Senior summer safety: The Illinois Department on Aging will provide summer tips to seniors statewide through its network of Area Agencies on Aging. The agency, working with its partners in the Aging Network, will also work to educate seniors on summer safety; 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 at the centers and provide transportation as requested.

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 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.

"Most of us fail to recognize that extreme heat and humidity can pose very dangerous threats, particularly as we age," said Charles Johnson, director of the Illinois Department on Aging. "The Keep Cool Illinois campaign will help older adults learn how they can take the right steps to avoid heat stress, and I urge everyone to take the time to review these potential lifesaving tips."

[to top of second column]



Dehydration and heat stroke prevention: The Illinois Department of Public Health 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.

Water safety: The Department of Public Health will also provide information to Illinoisans on how to decrease the health and safety risks associated with swimming. The department requires the state's 3,500 swimming pools and spas to meet water quality and safety standards. The department 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. The department also requires that each of the 408 licensed public beaches (excluding beaches on Lake Michigan, which are monitored daily by the counties and municipalities) 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, call 217-782-4977 or visit
for the "Summer? No Sweat" Survival Guide, published and distributed by the Department of Public Health.


West Nile virus prevention: The Department of Public Health 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, the department 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. (West Nile virus prevention and precautions)

Illinois Energy Efficient Affordable Housing Construction Program: The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has grants available to nonprofit 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. (Program information)


Lightning safety awareness: Each year in the United States, an average of 61 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 will join with the National Weather Service to help residents understand how to stay safe when lightning strikes. A lightning safety awareness booklet is available at [To download Adobe Acrobat Reader for the PDF file, click here.]

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 state fireworks regulations that went into effect in 2006 helped decrease the number of fireworks-related injuries by ensuring that fireworks are used only by people who meet safety standards. The Office of the State Fire Marshal has information about the fireworks regulations and other fireworks safety tips at


Air Pollution Action Days: Throughout the hot summer months, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Partners for Clean Air 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 For more "green" tips, visit

"Individuals can take many actions to reduce air pollution. Some are as simple as limiting driving and walking or riding a bike to work," said Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott. "By following small steps, citizens will be able to collectively reduce emissions and do their part to keep Illinois healthier."


For cold weather, Blagojevich launched the Keep Warm Illinois campaign and online site in the fall of 2005 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.

[Text from file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]


< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching and Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law and Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health and Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor