Health officials weigh in on keeping safe during Naperville heat wave

A sunny sky, during heat wave
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With a heat wave expected to drive the heat index up to 115 degrees in Naperville in the coming days, local health officials are offering tips on how to best stay safe and recognize heat-related illnesses.  

Heat exhaustion

Peter Schubel, the chairperson of the Edward Hospital Emergency Department says that heat exhaustion is the most common heat-related illness.  

“[It’s] kind of the precursor to heat stroke and you see it’s much more frequent where you just get fatigued and nauseous, sometimes you vomit, maybe you have a low-grade fever,” said Schubel. 

If symptoms of heat exhaustion are mild, it is recommended to exit the heat, cool off, and rehydrate. But if the symptoms are more serious, it is best to receive medical help through a doctor or emergency room visit. 

Heat stroke

Heat stroke is the most life-threatening form of heat-related illness and is “basically the end spectrum of heat-related illness,” according to Schubel. 

The symptoms are the same as those for heat exhaustion, but with the addition of changes in mental status, and a high fever of 100 degrees or more.

Signs leading to heat stroke warrant a call to 9-1-1 or a visit to the ER, though the affected individual should not drive due to being disoriented. 

The groups that are at greater risk from heat stroke are infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with other medical problems. However, young people, like athletes, are also susceptible.

“There’s the exertional heat stroke that we see, which are young and fit people that are overdoing it outside,” said Schubel. “You really have to limit what you do outdoors when it gets as hot as it is now.”

Other heat-related conditions

Some other heat-related conditions Schubel said to watch for during the heat wave are:

  • Heat rash: Small blisters, similar to pimples, that are caused by sweating. 
  • Cramps: Muscle spasms that occur during heavy exercise in intense heat. 
  • Heat edema: Swelling usually in the hands and feet caused by heat.
  • Heat tetany: Heat stress and hyperventilation from short exposures to stress in extreme heat that can cause spasms. 

When recognizing any of these, it’s important to exit the heat and rehydrate to avoid a more serious illness. 

Staying safe during heat wave 

The key advice for all is to avoid the heat when possible and stay hydrated. 

For those that need to be outside, it is recommended to wear light clothing, avoid dark colors, limit exposure to the heat, and keep that water bottle handy.

For students that need to wait for the bus, staying in the shade when possible is advised.

Pets are also affected by heat just like their owners and should follow the same advice like limiting time outdoors and avoiding overexertion.

And finally, it’s important to check in on loved ones and ensure they have air conditioning with the coming heat.

Heat warning and watch in forecast

The official heat warning for the Naperville area is for Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. A high temperature of 96 degrees is predicted, but the heat index could soar up to 115 degrees.

That warning is immediately followed by a heat watch that starts Wednesday at 9 p.m. and runs through Thursday at 8 p.m. The predicted high for Thursday is 100, with the heat index again having the potential to reach 115.

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