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Peoria health department chief urges residents to reduce risk of heat-related medical problems

220615 NWS heat.jpg
National Weather Service - Lincoln
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As the Tri-County area remains under an excessive heat warning, the head of the Peoria City/County Health Department is urging residents to take precautions.

PCCHD Administrator Monica Hendrickson says the hot and humid conditions pose significant health risks.

“Dehydration, raised body temperature, all that can lead to impacts on your body, especially your organs and just your functionality,” said Hendrickson, adding people need to stay attentive to warning signs. “You're going to want to watch, one, your blood pressure; your heart rates are going to get elevated as well. People sometimes get dizziness, confusion. All those are key things to monitor.”

The National Weather Service in Lincoln forecasts a peak temperature in the upper 90s for Wednesday, with a heat index approaching 110 degrees.

Hendrickson recommends people stay hydrated, avoid too much physical exertion, and limit time spent outdoors as much as possible. She also wants people to keep an eye on their friends and family members, particularly older relatives and neighbors.

“Check on each other; we say this a lot,” said Hendrickson. “Sometimes individuals that might have mobility issues, especially the elderly that are at higher risk. You want to make sure you check on them to make sure that they are staying indoors and taking care of themselves.”

The City of Peoria has cooling centers available to residents, with the Police Department’s lobby at 600 SW Adams Street open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fire stations are also available from 7 a.m.-10 p.m., although visitors will need to go outside when the staff is responding to a call.

Hendrickson said people who must be outside for extended time periods should still try to do whatever they can to reduce their exposure to the heat and humidity.

“For those individuals that, based on employment or whatever, have to be outdoors, again (it’s) taking those precautions: making sure that they are wearing light, reflective clothing so that they're not absorbing extra heat, wearing hats, taking breaks, drinking plenty of fluids.

“All those are key things to keep (doing), and try making sure they take breaks routinely, or even actually at a higher frequency, just so they are taking time to cool down.”

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Contact Joe at jdeacon@ilstu.edu.