Illinoisans in better position to battle heat wave

Jul 16, 2012

Another heat wave is gripping northern Illinois this week.  While the extreme temperatures will create difficult conditions for many residents, a Northern Illinois University professor says residents are in a much better position to prevent heat-related fatalities than was the case more than 15 years ago. 

It was in 1995 when hundreds of Chicago-area residents died in a heat wave.  Professor of meteorology Dave Changnon compared data from that event to a recent string of hot days in the region.  He says there were a lot of similarities between the two.  But he believes more awareness limited the number of deaths in 2012:

"We just changed a lot of the ways we communicate the dangers associated with a heat wave.  The idea that whether it's the National Weather Service or whether it's our community leaders, our warning people, to get indoors, to drink a lot of water, to rest and get away from the sun." - Dave Changnon, NIU professor of meteorology

Between July 4th and July 7th...there were nearly 20 heat-related deaths in the Chicago region.  That compares to more than 700 during heat wave from the mid-90's. 

NIU Today article featuring David Changnon's findings