Staying safe in the extreme heat

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CHICAGO (WIFR) - As Father's Day weekend looks to be a scorcher, with highs in the 90's, the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois reminds us to stay safe as the mercury rises.

The Centers for Disease Control says more than 600 people in the U.S. are killed by extreme heat annually.

The Red Cross says the most at risk people are adults age 65 and older, those with chronic medical conditions, those who work outside, infants, children and athletes.

To stay safe, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids but avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

The Red Cross says never leave a child or animal in a car as temperatures can quickly reach 120 degrees. They suggest we check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, spend most of their time alone or are likely to be affected by the heat.

During the hottest parts of the day, experts say to head indoors, slow down and avoid strenuous exercise.

If you plan on being outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing. Dark clothing absorbs the sun's rays. If you are working, take frequent breaks and use the buddy system.

Remember to check on animals to make sure they are not suffering from the heat.

The Red Cross says we should know the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Heat stroke is life-threatening. Symptoms include hot, red skin which can be either dry or moist, changes in consciousness, vomiting and high body temperature. A person experiencing these symptoms should be moved to a cooler place, immersed in cold water or doused/sprayed with cold water. You can also cover the person in cold, wet towels or ice while 911 is called.

Heat exhaustion symptoms include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness and exhaustion. If a person shows the signs of heat exhaustion, move them to a cooler place, spray them with cool water and give them small amounts of cool water to slowly drink. If their condition changes, they refuse water, vomit or begin to lose consciousness, call 911.

For a list of area cooling centers click here.

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