Beat the heat: Cooling centers open

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Cooling centers are opening throughout the region to provide relief from the extreme temperatures and humidity hitting central Illinois this week, according to several sponsoring agencies, including the American Red Cross Central Illinois Chapter.

The cooling centers are to help those who have little or no access to a cool environment, particularly during the hottest hours of the day.

The cooling centers' locations and hours are:

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are common during extremely hot weather, so the agencies, including the Red Cross and the health departments of Peoria and Tazewell Counties, advise people to take steps to stay cool. That includes staying in a cool environment, preferably air conditioned, and to limit outdoor activating and vigorous physical activities. Wearing loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing and hats is recommended.

Further, frequent hydration breaks are important. "Drink plenty of cool fluids, like water, regardless of your activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink," the news release said. "Avoid liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar; they cause you to lose more body fluids."

The agencies also cautioned that the heat is bad for pets. "Take care of your pets. Give extra water and be sure to place the water dish in a shaded area if outdoors. Make sure pets have a protected place where they can get away from the sun," the release said.

The National Institute of Medicine, through the Red Cross, recommends men drink three liters of fluid and women two liters of fluid each day during times of high temperatures. The general recommendation for eight 8 oz glasses of water per day converts to about 1.9 liters. This amount would be sufficient for most women, males need slightly more. Those who exercise, work outside or sweat excessively experience extra water loss and create higher fluid needs.

"Excessive heat can be deadly and has caused more deaths in recent years than any other weather event. Weather experts say it will be so hot heat illnesses are possible, especially for people who work or spend extended periods outside. This intense heat can cause discomforting symptoms if regular and adequate fluids are not consumed," the Red Cross said.

"Water is one of the most important components of our daily diets. Water helps lubricate internal surfaces, flushes toxins through the kidneys, transports nutrients throughout the body, maintains healthy blood pressure, regulates body temperature and sustains healthy vital organs."

The agency listed the following symptoms of dehydration, common in summer:

For more Red Cross heat safety tips, please visit