Weather Updates

Editorial: Coping with the heat

Updated: August 9, 2011 9:23AM

Here’s some genuine cold comfort on an excruciatingly hot day: It’s not 1995 all over again.

That was when 739 Chicagoans died of heat-related causes during a smoldering five-day heat wave.

The intensity and duration of the heat this week will come close to 1995. Wednesday marked the midpoint of what’s expected to be an eight-day heat wave with the heat index reaching as high as 110 degrees on Wednesday and today.

At this point in 1995, the bodies already were piling up in the city morgue, though that heat wave started with more intense temperatures.

As of Wednesday evening, we’re happy to report, the Cook County medical examiner’s office had not reported any heat-related deaths.

We can attribute that, in part, to a much improved city heat-response plan created after 1995. The plan, which was activated Friday, includes cooling centers, phone calls to 7,000 vulnerable senior citizens, coordination between city agencies and a blizzard (excuse the pun) of warnings about smart ways to handle the heat. Chicagoans also are urged to check in on neighbors and relatives.

You can’t let their guard down. The intense heat is expected to linger until Sunday, and the risks of heat-related illnesses are greatest after prolonged exposure to heat.

But so far, Chicago is surviving.

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