State agencies urge safety during record low temperature
CHICAGO, IL â€“ Governor Pat Quinn is urging residents to take advantage of the stateâ€™s warming centers as temperatures across the state dip to dangerous lows. The state has opened more than 100 warming centers across Illinois to provide respite from the bitter cold.
â€œThe state will do everything it can to protect residents during the severe cold thatâ€™s coming our way,â€ Governor Quinn said. â€œWe also urge citizens to be aware of the serious health problems that can result from prolonged exposure to the cold, and I urge everyone to take special precautions to stay safe during this cold snap.â€
The warming centers are located at Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) offices throughout the state. IDHS warming centers are open to the public during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition to the IDHS warming centers, the Illinois Tollway Oases in the Chicago area are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Governor Quinn and the Illinois Department on Aging are also encouraging relatives and friends to make daily visits or calls to senior citizens living alone.
Older persons are more susceptible to the cold, so seniors should set their thermostats above 65 degrees. People who lower the thermostat to reduce heating bills risk developing hypothermia, a potentially fatal condition in which the body temperature drops dangerously low. Also at an increased risk are older people who take certain medications, drink alcohol, lack proper nutrition and who have conditions such as arthritis, stroke, Alzheimerâ€™s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The following are some tips that seniors are encouraged to do to best handle cold temps:
Â· Dress in layers, both indoors and outdoors. Keep active. Make a list of exercises and activities to do indoors when you canâ€™t get out.
Â· Eat well and drink 10 glasses of water daily; Stock up on non-perishable food supplies, just in case.
Â· Keep extra medications in the house. If this is not possible, make arrangements to have someone pick up and deliver your medications.
Â· Do not shovel snow or walk in deep snow. Plan now for someone else to shovel the snow. The strain from the cold and hard labor could cause a heart attack; sweating can lead to a chill and even hypothermia.
To find a warming center near you, call the IDHS hotline at (800) 843-6154 or visit www.keepwarm.illinois.gov.