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National Weather Service issues heat advisory starting Thursday

People cool off in the spray of an open hydrant on a hot evening in Lawrence, Mass. Tuesday, July 16, 2013. Area temperatures during the day reached into the 90s. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Matt Berry of Popple Construction takes a drink of water while working on sidewalk construction on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Tuesday July 16, 2013.  Hot weather is expected to continue into the weekend.  (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice,Mark Moran )  MANDATORY CREDIT
Rich Barber cools off on a water slide at the Community pool in Forty Fort, Pa., Tuesday July 16, 2013.  The heat wave is expected to continue through Friday and possibly Saturday.  (AP Photo/The Citizens' Voice, Mark Moran)  MANDATORY CREDIT
A gondola and its passengers glide along the Woonasquatucket River as it passes under a bridge in downtown Providence, R.I., Tuesday, July 16, 2013. Temperatures in Rhode Island climbed into the 90s in many places Tuesday. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
People keep cool while swimming in the  water at the Lower Falls of the Swift River, Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in Albany, N.H.  A weeklong heat wave continues to bear down on much of the region.  (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
People keep cool while swimming in the  water at the Lower Falls of the Swift River, Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in Albany, N.H.  A weeklong heat wave continues to bear down on much of the region.   (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Bode Layo,9, of Portage, Pa., floats in the pool at Crichton-McCormick Park in Portage, Pa., Tues., July 16, 2013.  Hot weather is expected through the weekend.  (AP Photo/Tribune-Democrat, John Rucosky)   THE MORNING CALL OUT; DAILY AMERICAN OUT; WJAC-TV OUT
A boat sails along the banks of the Charles River near the Arthur Fiedler Memorial on the Esplanade, Tuesday, July 16, 2013, in Boston.  A comfortable breeze off Boston Harbor kept temperatures in the high 80's in the city, while much of New England sweltered in oppressive heat.  Fiedler was the long-time conductor of the Boston Pops. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Dogs splash in canine wading pools in Hudson River Park during a heat wave, Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in New York.    Forecasts are predicting temperatures in the 90s through Saturday.  (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Ricky Otazu, of Lodi, N.J. walks past a giant screen outside the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center announcing the week's weather forecast, Tuesday, July 16, 2013, in New York. Temperatures in the New York metropolitan area are expected to stay in the 90s through Saturday. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A man sunbathes in Hudson River Park during a heat wave, Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in New York. Forecasts are predicting temperatures in the 90s through Saturday.  (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Vincent Davis of Albany wears a towel on his head to shield the heat while painting a house on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, in Albany, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Youngsters frolic on a raft in Curtis Pond to cool off on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in Calais, Vt.  A heat wave will scorch the Northeast this week, as some of the hottest weather of the summer envelops the region. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)
Elise Price of Ballston Spa, N.Y., paddleboards with friends on Fish Creek on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Andrew Key considers himself “one of the blessed ones” — he has air conditioning in his car and at work. At home, he makes do with a fan, and when he’s out, he ducks into fast food restaurants to stay cool.

“Yesterday, I went into a McDonald’s for a courtesy cup of water,” said Key, 44, who lives in Chicago and works in social services. “I just stayed there for an hour.”

A heat advisory will go into effect 11 a.m. Thursday for the Chicago area and last until 7 p.m. Friday, according the National Weather Service.

Along with the possibility of thunderstorms and high winds later this week, the Chicago region will see several days of building heat and humidity, according to the weather service. The heat index, a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored in with the air temperature, is expected to go above 100 degrees. High temperatures in Chicago this week have hit the lower 90s, which is actually cooler than it was last year at this time, said Bill Nelson, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Romeoville office. But the clouds and mugginess are what’s different this year.

“The only difference is that the humidity wasn’t as high last year because it was so dry, and this year we have moisture and heat,” he said. “The higher humidity makes the heat index higher.”

Thursday and Friday are supposed to be the hottest days this week, with temperatures in the mid-90s and the heat index between 100 and 105 degrees, according to a weather statement. Thunderstorms are expected late Friday, which should make for a cooler weekend.

But before the cold front hits, Northeast Illinois residents should watch out for heat exhaustion, said Dr. Michael Gill, medical director at the Loyola Center for Health in Wheaton.

“It’s not a good day to go jogging outside or doing heavy work without doing frequent breaks,” he said. “Try to wear loose-fitting, cool clothing. And hydrate, hydrate, hydrate; I can’t say that enough.”

The city, on guard for heat-related health issues, has six community centers designated as “cooling centers,” where people can find relief from the mugginess. The state has also opened more than 100 cooling centers, located at Illinois Department of Human Services offices throughout the state. Chicagoland area residents can call 311 to get information on cooling centers or other city facilities that can be used for the same purpose. 311 can also be used to request well-being checks on family members or friends, particularly senior citizens.

This week, 84 well-being checks, 60 of them for elderly people, have been requested so far, said city Department of Family and Support Services spokesman Matt Smith. The number will likely increase as the week progresses.

“We don’t have a heat advisory yet, so I’m hoping we’ll be okay,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “Chicagoans generally know how to cope.”

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