Local residents search for some relief from heat

By Gus Bode

WPSD-TV, Union Planters Bank partner in “Beat the Heat” program

Southern Illinois residents were left scrambling for shade last week as temperatures soared into the mid and upper 90s, but despite the brief cool down, relief from the heat is likely to be short lived.

According to AccuWeather, temperatures are expected to return to the mid-90s beginning today, with the fluctuation continuing for the next couple of weeks.

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With the high temperatures comes an increased concern for health, especially that of seniors.

According to a news release from the Illinois Department on Aging, the elderly have a harder time coping with the heat because their bodies are less capable of cooling themselves down.

Nikki Smith, director of the division of communications for the Department on Aging, said seniors who do not have air conditioning systems or cannot afford to run them can stay cool by taking cold baths and showers or using air compressors.

She said dehydration and heat exhaustion can be averted by wearing light clothing and drinking plenty of fluids. The department recommends 10 glasses a day for situations of extreme heat.

WPSD-TV chief meteorologist Cal Sisto said while temperatures in the 90s are not unusual for this time of year, the average daytime high is generally in the upper 80s. He said a combination of high humidity and temperatures resulted in last week’s seemingly extreme heat and will do so again this week.

Sisto said humidity hinders evaporation, which could cause a person’s body to perceive it is hotter than it really is.

“When the humidity goes up, that gets in the way of the body’s cooling process,” he said. “When we say that the temperature is 95 and the heat index is 105, that means, as far as our bodies are concerned, it’s 105 degrees.”

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However, he said breaks in both heat and humidity have resulted in unusually mild weather this summer.

“These breaks in heat and humidity are pretty unusual for this part of the country this time of year,” Sisto said. “We, very often, have high humidity combined with the high temperatures.”

But because of these breaks, the usual programs have not been made available this summer, making it even harder to deal with the sporadic heat surges.

Carbondale Assistant City Manager Don Monty said the city has not set up cooling centers because the area has not experienced any extended periods of extreme heat. He said space would be made available at the Carbondale Civic Center if needed.

However, WPSD-TV and Union Planters Bank have partnered in the “Beat the Heat Program.” July 6, Union Planters Bank began collecting fans for those in need.

Union Planters Bank region marketing coordinator Karen Grebing said the fans collected by the bank are taken to different Salvation Army locations, where they are distributed. Grebing said the program has been going for four years and has collected more than 1, 000 fans for needy residents in western Kentucky, Southern Illinois and southeast Missouri.

Anyone wishing to donate a fan to the “Beat the Heat” program can drop fans off at any Union Planters Bank location. The program will run until Aug. 6.

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