Weather Awareness and Actions

Weather Situational Awareness
Identify a lead “heat point-person” at the LHD.
This person could be the same person who is assigned to listen to TV and Starcom radios for news. The National Weather Service regional office initiates alert procedures for individual counties within Illinois based on the forecasted Heat Index. The lead heat point-person will be responsible for monitoring the National Weather Service for any heat alerts in your area. If your local EMA has this responsibility, the LHD’s heat point-person will be the liaison to the local EMA. If there is a heat alert, this person will inform the LHD Administrator.

National Weather Service Excessive Heat Alerts and Potential Responses by LHDs and/or local EMAs
If the forecasted Heat Index (which takes into account forecasted temperature and humidity) is expected to be 105-110F (this varies slightly across Illinois), the National Weather Service Regional Office may issue alerts. These are described below. Sample press releases and social media messages are described following the Excessive Heat categories:

Excessive Heat Outlook: High heat index may occur in the next 3-7 days
This may be useful for situational awareness.

Excessive Heat Watch: High heat index is expected in the next 24-72 hours

  • Alert organizations that serve at-risk groups that an Excessive Heat Alert may be issued shortly. Those organizations include: those that serve the elderly, people with chronic heart, lung, kidney, and psychiatric conditions. Long term care facilities that lack air conditioning should be alerted.
  • Notify the community to check on elderly relatives and neighbors. Notify facilities that may serve as cooling centers.
  • Remind the public that if a heat advisory is issued in the next few days, it will be critical to drink lots of extra fluids (but avoid alcohol), avoid exertion outdoors, and if possible, stay in an air conditioned environment.
  • Use multiple methods for getting this information out, including press releases and social media.

Excessive Heat Advisory: High heat index is occurring now, or has a high probability of occurring in the next 36 hours. The heat will be uncomfortable, and if precautions are not taken, could become life-threatening.

  • Notify the community, organizations listed under “Excessive Heat Watch” and at-risk individuals that the area is under an Excessive Heat Advisory.
  • Actively reach out the elderly who live alone and do not have air conditioning. Facilitate transport to formal cooling centers or locations such as libraries or shopping malls, fire stations, or other places that have air conditioning.
  • Advise people that if they must go outside, to wear loose, light-weight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Avoid outdoor exertion during peak heat hours, and those who must work outdoors should take a “rest, shade, and water break” for 15 minutes at least every hour and more if needed.
  • Remind the public never to leave children, disabled adults or pets in parked vehicles
  • Encourage community members to check on their neighbors to make sure they are staying cool. If they do not have access to air conditioning, make sure they are able to get to an air conditioned location. Tell the community the locations of cooling centers.
  • Consider cancelling outdoor gym class and sports.

Excessive Heat Warning: High heat index is occurring now, or has a high probability of occurring in the next 36 hour. The heat is potentially life-threatening.