Extreme Heat in Rural Illinois

Many people think that heatwaves are only a problem in cities. Cities do have “the urban heat island effect,” caused by the heat absorbed by sidewalks, streets, parking lots, and buildings. But people living in rural areas are at risk for heat illness, like heat stroke. In fact, people in rural counties in Illinois are actually at higher risk of being be hospitalized for heat illness.  We are not sure why this happens. It might be because small towns may not have cooling centers, while big cities do. People who live in cities can take a public bus or train to a cooling center, or a neighbor with a car might be able to drive them there. In rural areas, where the nearest neighbor might be miles away, it can be difficulty to get to a cooling center. Also, in rural areas many people work outdoors in agriculture – physically difficulty work that causes people to overheat. If you live in a rural area, you can check in on your neighbor on hot days, listen to the local news to know when there is a heat alert, and drink plenty of water and stay in cool places.

Soy beans_USDA_Peggy Greb
Photo credit: USDA?Peggy Greb