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Stay cool: A heat wave is coming

Heat index forecast for Tuesday, June 14 for western Iowa and northwest Illinois, according to the National Weather Service station in Davenport, Iowa.

Woof. The National Weather Service warns of intense heat with this week, with this heat index predicted for Tuesday, June 14, according to the National Weather Service station in Davenport, Iowa. (National Weather Service/)

Check on your elderly neighbors regularly. Have fresh water for your pets and keep them inside. And identify the nearest cooling center in case the power goes out.

It’s going to be hot this week, with record or near-record temperatures forecast Monday through Wednesday. There isn’t much relief coming even after the worst of it passes.

Early Saturday, the National Weather Service issued alerts across the Midwest and South. Starting Monday, temperatures in northern Illinois will rocket into the 90s and could approach 100 degrees on Tuesday.

“A large ridge of high pressure will overspread the Central U.S. leading to the hottest weather of the season so far and near record highs,” warned the National Weather Service.

Coupled with humidity, we may be facing a heat index of 105 degrees Monday and Tuesday. Nighttime will bring little relief, with overnight lows near 80 degrees Monday and Tuesday nights.

Oglesby Mayor Dom Rivara said city hall and the Oglesby fire station both will be open as cooling centers in case residents have HVAC failures or if there is a blackout or brownout.

And if the city is warned of a looming blackout, there is a plan: The city will shut off power to businesses first, ensuring residential customers will be the last to lose power.

While Rivara doesn’t anticipate a power failure, he pointed out that fossil-fuel generation plants are being closed and green generation technologies have not sufficiently replaced them – a trend that could mean shortages or failures on high-usage days.

“I am concerned,” Rivara said. “You cannot close base load plants and not replace them with anything.”

Cooling centers opened during previous heat events were expected to be available this week, but area residents seeking refuge should be aware that some cooling centers will have COVID-19 protocols in place.

Illinois Valley Community College is a designated cooling center but visitors are asked to check in at the front desk and to observe any requested infection controls. Similarly, the cafeteria at St. Margaret’s Health-Peru (formerly Illinois Valley Community Hospital) also will be open but masks must be worn in all health facilities statewide.

The hospitals may be open for temporary relief, but administrators would like residents to be safe and avoid filling the emergency rooms. Residents should wear light, loose-fitting clothes and drink plenty of water – alcoholic beverages, however tempting, will hasten dehydration – and stay indoors with a fan or air-conditioning.

Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to the heat, making it prudent to check regularly on neighbors and elderly parents.

Domesticated animals are especially at risk during heat events. Chris Tomsha, executive director of Illinois Valley Animal Rescue, urged pet owners to keep their dogs and cats indoors with access to fresh water and cooling air.

When a dog has to be let out, keep it in a shaded area with fresh water handy and avoid long walks, as concrete and asphalt will intensify the heat. If boating this weekend, remember to fit your pet with a life vest.

Never leave an animal unattended in a parked car; it only takes minutes for tragedy to strike or, conversely, for a Good Samaritan to smash your window to fetch an at-risk pet.

“It’s going to get nasty out there,” Tomsha said. “Leave them home. They don’t need car rides.”

Tomsha also said IVAR is in need of an industrial-sized fan to keep cool air circulating inside the shelter.

Travelers are advised that the state of Illinois has designated several locations as cooling centers along major highways. In northern Illinois, these are Belvidere Oasis, east of Belvidere Toll Plaza on I-90; DeKalb Oasis, west of Peace Road Exist in DeKalb on I-88; Lake Forest Oasis along U.S. 41 between Routes 60 and 176; Hinsdale Oasis, north of I-55 in Hinsdale; and Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis in South Holland approximate to the I-94 and I-80 intersection.

The public offices of the state’s 120 Illinois Department of Human Services also serve as cooling centers. Call 800-843-6154 to learn more.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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