The kind of heat we're going to be experiencing the next few days can be a killer -- literally.
More than 8,000 people have died from heat-related between 1979 and 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which urges people to avoid overexertion, know the signs of illnesses like heat stroke and heat exhaustion, and find ways to stay cool.
In Channahon on Tuesday, kids were cooling off at the new splash pad in Community Park. The for the new attraction took place in May.
The forecast from the National Weather Service in Romeoville called for a high Tuesday of 95, with heat index values going as high as 99. The low will only go to 74, before temps climb back to a high of 95 on Wednesday, the forecast says.
The heat wave may break overnight Wednesday, with the Thursday high predicted to be 79, forecasters said.
The CDC says the elderly, infants and children, and people with medical conditions are more prone to heat stress. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated, even if you're relatively sendentary, and stay in places that are air-conditioned, even if that means heading to the mall or the public library to cool off, the CDC recommends.
"People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves," the CDC Web site says. "The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough. In such cases, a person's body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs."
Here are the signs to look for if you're experiencing a heat-related illness, according to the CDC:
- Heat cramps: Exercising in hot weather can lead to muscle cramps, especially in the legs, because of brief imbalances in body salts. Cramps become less frequent as a person becomes used to the heat.
- Heat syncope or fainting: Anyone not used to exercising in the heat can experience a quick drop in blood pressure that can lead to fainting. As with heat cramps, the cure is to take it easy.
- Heat exhaustion: Losing fluid and salt through perspiration or replacing them in an imbalanced way can lead to dizziness and weakness. Body temperature might rise, but not above 102 degrees. In some cases victims, especially the elderly, should be hospitalized. Heat exhaustion is more likely after a few days of a heat wave rather than when one is beginning. The best defense is to take it easy and drink plenty of water. Don't take salt tablets without consulting a physician.
- Heatstroke: In some cases extreme heat can upset the body's thermostat, causing body temperature to rise to 105 degrees or higher. Symptoms are lethargy, confusion and unconsciousness. Even a suspicion that someone might be suffering from heatstroke requires immediate medical aid. Heatstroke can kill.