Friday, December 1, 2023

Old Chicago School Buildings Brace for Heat


The heat index is expected to be over 110°F Thursday in Chicago, and many parents whose children are expected to go to school in old school buildings are worried, CBS News Chicago reports.

But if students do find themselves in excessive heat, student reporter Chris Lagunes at Palatine High School in Chicago’s northwest suburbs has some advice in the school’s student newspaper:

  • Drink water
  • Dress in lightweight, light-colored clothes
  • Stay indoors where it’s cool

Heatstroke and heat exhaustion are two forms of heat-related illness. Both can occur when you’re exposed to high temperatures or humidity for an extended time.

Heat exhaustion brings on symptoms such as excessive sweating, the resulting loss of essential electrolytes like potassium and sodium, and dehydration. People suffering from heat exhaustion often feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or tired. They may get cramps in large muscles or headaches as well.

If you’re suffering from heat exhaustion and don’t get your body’s core cooled down quickly enough, the condition can advance to heatstroke, a medical emergency. Look for these signs and symptoms of heatstroke:

  • High body temperature
  • Hot, dry skin (lack of sweating)
  • Rapid pulse
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness
  • Throbbing headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures

The Mayo Clinic advises that heatstroke treatment focuses on cooling the body down as quickly as possible to prevent or reduce damage to your brain and vital organs.

One way to accomplish this is to immerse yourself in cool water—or ice water. If that isn’t available, you can spray a mist of cool water on your body and let evaporative cooling take effect by blowing warm air over the film of moisture. This will encourage evaporation, and the heat of evaporation (think chemistry) will effectively pull heat out of your body’s core to evaporate the water.

Important note: Stay hydrated, and not with sugary or alcoholic drinks. And use the air conditioner or get to an air-conditioned place during the heat. Old school buildings without air will not help.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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