Things are really heating up in Chicago, and recent reports suggest that this week is only going to get warmer. With temperatures hovering in the 90s and a heat index of over 100, residents across the city are already experiencing the toll that extreme heat takes on our day-to-day activities. Extreme temperatures are particularly hard on seniors and the very young, as well as under-resourced individuals who may not be able to afford air conditioning in their homes.

Below are 5 quick tips on how you can beat the heat and help others in the process:

  1. Take Care of Yourself. On an airplane you’re reminded to ‘put on your own mask before assisting others.’ This is sound advice for anyone looking to volunteer. It’s difficult to have the energy and ability to help others if you aren’t being taken care of yourself! Familiarize yourself with the Dos & Don’ts of heat wave safety and print off this handy checklist from the Red Cross. Be sure you’re drinking plenty of water and eat 5-6 small, high-protein meals throughout the day; even if you aren’t always feeling hungry.
  2. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? We all remember the song from Mr. Rogers, and there is no more important time to get to know your neighbors than in the midst of extreme weather. Check in with your neighbors, especially those that are elderly or have small children. Knock on doors to make sure that everyone is okay and consider bringing along a few bottles of water to share. If your neighbors do not have air conditioning, suggest a few local spots, like libraries, malls or bookstores where they may be able to cool down during the hottest parts of the day. If you feel comfortable, you may even offer to provide a ride to and from those locations, or consider inviting them over for lemonade or a family movie night.
  3. Go Green. Millions of air conditioners running at the same time can definitely put a strain on local energy carriers. Help avoid power outages by turning off the air conditioning in rooms with no one in them, switching off unused lights and appliances, and remember: fans cool people, not rooms.
  4. Simplify. Have some dusty fans or an older AC unit sitting in your basement? Call up your local shelters, nursing/care facilities or daycare centers; your trash might just be their treasure. Or, consider bringing that extra fan over to one of the neighbors you met when you were out doing your check-ins, you’ll make a new friend before you know it!
  5. Serve. Even in extreme heat, there are still meals to cook, children to teach and seniors to talk to. Many of our programs provide the ability for service workers to check-in with clients as they participate in the project, ensuring their safety and comfort. Indoor reading programs may offer under-resourced children their only chance to cool down during hot summer days.

Serving your community when they need it most is not only good citizenship, it’s also the best way to forget about the heat and enjoy a fulfilling summer!

Find volunteer opportunities that fit into your schedule at