Residents battle the heat without cooling centers

Due to COVID-19 concerns, some cooling centers won't open this year
Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 9:21 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Temperatures are set to increase in the following days and weeks in the stateline, leaving community members looking for ways to cool down. Cooling centers are designed to keep residents safe, but they won’t all open this year.

The Community Action Agency typically hosts cooling centers throughout Winnebago and Boone counties, but city leaders tell 23 news those will be closed this year due to COVID-19 concerns. When the temperature rises and the sweat drops, SwedishAmerican Doctor William Renk says it’s crucial to find was to cool off.

“You really want to make sure you’re taking in adequate fluids, you know salt, that’s when Gatorade and Powerade does help because it has the fluids and electrolytes in it,” says Renk. “And then you want to make sure you’re wearing loose fitting clothing and you’re able to cool yourself off.”

Renk says community members should take the heat index and weather advisories into account when spending time outdoors. The heat index indicates how the outside temperature and humidity feel to the human body. The index is measured in the shade, but those temperatures in the sunlight can be much higher.

“If you’re in the sun a heat index of 100 could be really 115 which is, you’re at severe risk for heat exhaustion heat stoke,” explains Renk. Symptoms of heat stroke are dizziness, headaches and muscle weakness or cramps. Doctors say to seek medical help if you experience those.

But what about those who don’t have air-conditioned homes?

“Currently I live in hotels,” says Daniel Zender, a musician who moved to Rockford in May 2019 from south Florida. “So I’m used to it.” Zender says he spent the morning at Carpenter Place, which has air conditioning inside. When asked where he goes to cool down, he listed a few spots that offer relief. “Oh where do I go? I don’t know, I go to the mall, I’ll even go to the court house and look at court records and stuff,” he says.

Dr. Renk also says keeping hydrated plays a major role in staying safe. He says when the degrees are high and there is humidity it’s near impossible for the body to cool itself off. “If you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated,” he says.

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