SPRINGFIELD – As the school year winds down, many families will be heading outdoors to enjoy their summer vacations. In Illinois, temperatures during the summer months can reach dangerous levels. Extreme heat can be particularly hazardous for children, seniors, those with special needs, and pets. This month, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and local emergency management agencies throughout the state are offering tips to help people stay safe while enjoying the summer.
Last year, 24 children died from heatstroke after being left in hot cars and already one toddler has died in 2021. Heat can be more severe on children because their bodies warm at a faster rate than adults. Parents should develop a routine that will ensure the backseat is always checked before the car is locked, such as putting a purse, cell phone or other needed item in the back seat or consider opening the car’s back door every time the car is parked.
Summer’s extreme heat can also lead to heat-induced illnesses, including heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Remember to check in on family, friends, neighbors, the elderly and pets to ensure they are safe. When extreme heat strikes, limit your time outdoors, seek air conditioning and drink plenty of water.
To protect yourself and others, familiarize yourself with the following heat safety tips
- Know the terms used by the National Weather Service during extreme heat: Heat Wave, Excessive Heat Watch, Heat Advisory, Excessive Heat Warning, and Heat Index.
- Do not leave children or pets in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes. On a hot day, temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach 140ºF-190ºF within 30 minutes.
- Make a special effort to check on your neighbors during a heat wave, especially if they are seniors, families with young children, people with special needs, or living alone.
- Seniors and others who may be sensitive to extreme heat should contact friends, neighbors, or relatives periodically throughout the day.
- Seek help if you feel symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
- Stay out of the sun. If you must be in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a wide-brimmed hat.
- Stay in the shade or under awnings as much as possible.
- Avoid overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible to prevent sunburn.
To learn more about how to stay safe during the summer heat and how to treat heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion, visit ready.illinois.gov