With the mercury expected to reach the 90s and the heat index soaring near 100 later this weekend, physicians at the Cook County Health (CCH) urge you to take extra measures to stay cool.

“When we sweat in high heat and humidity, evaporation slows and the body has to work harder to maintain a normal temperature,” said Emergency Department physician Dr. Jenny Lu. “Your best defense against heat-related illness is prevention.”

Dr. Lu suggests avoiding overexertion and strenuous outdoor activities. If you must be outdoors, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes that cover as much skin as possible to prevent sunburn. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. Consume plenty of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated fluids.

CCH encourages relatives and friends to make daily visits or calls to senior citizens living alone. Take advantage of cooling centers, public pools and air-conditioned stores and malls during periods of extreme heat. Click here for a list of cooling centers in Cook County.

If you are unable to get into air conditioning, take frequent showers or baths to help avoid heat illness from developing.

Early signs of heat exhaustion include:
• Thirst
• Nausea and vomiting
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Fatigue
• Cold and clammy feeling, while still sweating

Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke. Symptoms include:
• Hot and flushed skin, but no sweating
• Confusion
• Seizures
• Unable to walk in straight line
• Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
• Rapid pulse
• Potential loss of consciousness

If you see someone suffering from heat stroke, take immediate action – call 911 right away then try to move the person into a cool, shady place.