Surviving the sweltering heat

By Anna Yee

June 27, 2012 Updated Jun 27, 2012 at 7:45 PM CDT

CENTRAL ILLINOIS -- Don't let the trash man fool you.

Starting Wednesday, PDC crews are getting a 5:00 a.m. head start on garbage pick up around Peoria.

That should last through next Tuesday, July 3, as Central Illinois prepares for scorching temperatures.

Those who can't escape the heat learn to adjust their routines.

Since firefighters battle both the sun and blazes, their cooling system is crucial.

"We rotate crews. We have guys ready to go in the shadows. When that person has been in for 5 or 10 minutes and working hard, get a fresh person in," said Assistant Fire Chief Rick Ward, of the East Peoria Fire Department.

Heavy gear only adds to the fiery temps.

That's why staying cool and hydrated is key.

"We'll be spraying ourselves with a hose," said Steve McIntire, a local construction worker.

Construction workers like him constantly keep cold water and drinks handy in this heat.

"It's expected, so we make sure we have enough water, make sure we have the right clothing on, make sure we have enough sunscreen on," said Ben Tellefson, an IDOT Resident Engineer working on Route 8 construction in Washington. "It's been warm all year, so it's not coming out of nowhere."

Knowing how to handle this hot spell should be something on everyone's minds.

"Those who need to take extra care? People working outside, of course, but also the very young, the very old, and those on medication.

Medical experts can't stress enough to take the proper steps to stay cool or face illness like heat stroke.

"That's where you get altered mental status, your temperatures skyrockets, and you're in trouble unless you get some help quickly."

Dr. Paul Matthews, an attending physician at OSF St. Francis Medical Center, says heat stroke can cause brain damage, even death.

He advises upping your liquid intake to eight to ten cups a day and being aware of how you feel.

Advice that could help keep you alive, wherever you are this summer.

Dr. Matthews says your body will give you warning signs.

He says sweating is normal.

It's when you stop sweating or start feeling cold that you should get out of the sun and seek medical attention.

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