Well, we did it -- the new record high for July 5 is 103 degrees, recorded at 2 p.m. Thursday at O'Hare Airport and toppling the old record of 102 set in 1911.
If we're very, very lucky, we'll tie another record Friday if we reach at least 100 degrees, a seemingly safe bet, according to the National Weather Service's latest forecast. That will mark the third consecutive day of 100-plus, tying the number recorded July 3-5, 1911.
Today's high is predicted to be 104, one short of the highest temperature in recorded history. When the heat index is factored in, it will feel more like 108 degrees, says the .
While these might be interesting statistics for the record-keepers, they also represent potentially life-threatening situations for those who don't have access to someplace to cool, overexert themselves or get dehydrated.
Two deaths Thursday were being attributed to the heat. A 56-year-old man in Maywood and a 48-year-old man in Chicago both died from heart disease exacerbated by heat-related stress, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
An air quality alert was declared Thursday and will be in place again Friday. Elevated ozone levels and poor air quality will increase the stresses on the body from the heat. This is true especially for children, the elderly and those with pulmonary or respiratory conditions. These groups should limit their exposure to outdoor air until Saturday.
The latest forecast is calling for a high of 94 Saturday, before the area gets a break Sunday and the high is at least 10 degrees cooler. Better yet, the overnight temperature is expected to be in the mid-60s. The trend should continue through the week.
Tips to staying cool
Prolonged exposure to the heat will be dangerous, according to the NWS, and can cause sunstroke, heat cramps or heat exhaustion.
If you need to work outside, reschedule activities for early morning or evening. Wear light-weight and loose-fitting clothing and drink plenty of water.
Take frequent breaks in shade or in an air-conditioned space.
Stay out of the sun and check on relatives and neighbors. Pets and children should not be left unattended in cars as the interior can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.