Homeless man glad for Salvation Army Cooling Center as heat wave approaches

By Audrey Williams

June 26, 2012 Updated Jun 26, 2012 at 8:46 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- The dog days of summer are fast approaching in the Heart of Illinois. To help beat the heat there are several places opening their doors as cooling centers.

As the mercury rises this week health officials are urging everyone to take extra precautions.

Diana Scott with the Peoria City/County health department said over the next few days everyone should limit outdoor activities, drink lots of water, take frequent breaks, and wear light-colored, lightweight, and loose clothing.

For those working outside, Scott said wardrobe choice will be key, "When it's really hot outside and you are working the first thing you want to do is take off your shirts, but that's one thing they should not be doing. They need to be wearing some breathable clothing so they can get some air to their bodies."

"We encourage people if they have an opportunity to get out of the heat at least for a couple of hours it is better than being on the streets all the time and being in the sun," said Rich Draeger with the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army in Peoria will be open as a cooling center from 8:30 am until 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. They also have a free lunch program from 11:30 am until 1:00 pm.

"They have access to the tables here, restroom facilities, and probably most important, they have access to water," said Draeger.

Its a service not taken for granted by the homeless, including shelter resident Emanuel Yarber

"They supply to coolness, I will stay, until its time for me to go," said Yarber, who was enjoying the air conditioning Tuesday afternoon ahead of the forecasted heat wave.

Residents looking for other ways to beat the heat can find cooling centers at the Illinois Department of Human Services in Peoria and Pekin. You can also head to www.keepcool.il.gov to find the cooling center closest to you.

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