Extreme heat prompts Chicago to open cooling centers, other facilities

With temperatures expected in the mid-90s through Friday, Chicago residents are urged to use resources the city announced Tuesday, offering the public a break from the punishing heat.

The relief includes:

-Six designated cooling centers open through Friday, July 10
-Dozens of air-conditioned CTA buses stationed at Chicago Public Schools
-More than 75 public libraries and 30 park district buildings open to the public.
-Water features, or “splash pads,” turned on at several city parks

A full list of where residents can cool down can be found online or by calling 311. A separate list of parks with splash pads is on the park district’s website.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the city’s heat plan includes measures to ensure social distancing. Besides continual disinfection, cooling centers will require visitors to stay 6 feet apart and wear masks.

Besides cooling off, city officials Tuesday also urged residents to check in on neighbors, friends and relatives.

Anyone who finds someone suffering heat stroke should call 911, move that person into a cooler place and cool them with water.

“Every resident deserves safe shelter from the summer heat,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a news release announcing the cooling resources.

“Our city services are only as strong as the residents of this city, which why we need everyone to do their part and look out for each other.”

The need for preparedness summons memories of Chicago’s 1995 heat wave that claimed the life of 793 people, mostly poor and senior citizens living alone on the South Side. At the time, blame was placed on the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley, who failed to execute the city’s heat plan until people started to die.

Although temperatures are forecast in the 90s for the rest of the week, the National Weather Service has not issued an extreme heat warning. The peak heat index in Chicago is forecast for 102 degrees on Thursday, slightly below the 105 degree threshold that warrants an extreme heat warning if it is passed two days in a row.

The city’s six cooling centers — open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — are located at:

-Englewood Center, 1140 W. 79th St.
-Garfield Center, 10 S. Kedzie Ave.
-King Center, 4314 S. Cottage Grove Ave.
-North Area Center, 845 W. Wilson Ave.
-South Chicago Center, 8650 S. Commercial Ave.
-Trina Davila Center, 4312 W. North Ave.

The city is also using its six senior centers as cooling centers from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The downtown Renaissance Court center, 78 E. Washington St., will also be open every weekday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.