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Officials urge caution during heat wave

DeKALB – With temperatures expected to reach 91 degrees today, local officials are urging residents to stay cool and look after vulnerable people.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for DeKalb County, north-central and northeast Illinois and northwest Indiana on Tuesday afternoon, as heat indexes are expected to reach or exceed 100 degrees through Friday. The forecast calls for highs of 91 degrees Thursday and 92 degrees Friday, according to the National Weather Service's web site.

At Monday's Sycamore City Council meeting, Sycamore Fire Chief Peter Polarek recommended residents check on elderly neighbors and others who may be affected by the heat.

"Hopefully this will be a short stint, but nonetheless, some of our folks will not resort to air conditioning," Polarek said.

Despite the hot weather, some people refuse to use their air conditioning because they want to save money on electricity, said Sycamore police Chief Donald Thomas. He urged families to make sure their homes are properly ventilated. 

Senior citizens, children younger than 4, and people with existing medical problems, such as heart disease, tend to be most vulnerable to the heat-related health problems, said Jane Lux, DeKalb County Health Department administrator. 

Children and pets should not be left in a closed vehicle if the temperature is 80 degrees or higher, she said. The core body temperature of a child can rise three to five times faster than that of an adult if they are left in a hot vehicle, Lux said in a news release. 

Extreme heat is the most common cause of weather-related deaths in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. A total of 7,415 people died of heat-related causes between 1999 and 2010 in the U.S.

Cooling centers will be available in the DeKalb and Sycamore area. Libraries and city buildings in the two cities will be open throughout the week to provide residents relief from the hot weather. 

If people are not able to visit cooling centers, they should try to stay indoors as much as possible, Lux said. If they do not have air conditioning in their homes, they should visit a library or shopping center. 

"If you're in there for a few hours, it helps your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat," Lux said. 

Other ways people can keep cool include drinking plenty of water, dressing in loose clothing and avoiding hot meals. People should also avoid direct sunlight and shade their heads with hats. 

For more information on avoiding extreme heat, visit the Illinois Department of Public Health's website at 

Cooling centers in DeKalb County

• Family Community Resource Center, 1629 Afton Road, Sycamore.

• DeKalb Public Library, 309 Oak St., DeKalb.

• DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St., DeKalb.

• Sycamore Public Library, 103 E. State St., Sycamore. 

• Sycamore Police Department, 535 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore.

• DeKalb Oasis, 2700 N. Crego Road, DeKalb.

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