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Need a place to cool off?

With the excessive heat warning extending until Saturday, local agencies have compiled a list of air-conditioned cooling centers in Champaign County.

The list includes libraries, shopping malls, hospitals, social services agencies and public offices. Hours vary by location.

The official state cooling center is the Illinois Department of Human Services office, 705 N. Country Fair Drive, C, said Darlene Kloeppel, social services director for the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission.

The Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, 201 W. Kenyon Road, C, is also open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Administrator Julie Pryde said it's set up to be "kid-friendly."

Anyone 18 or younger can get a free breakfast, lunch or snack through the government-funded summer food program. The lobby is also equipped with two computers with Internet access, as well as coloring sheets and educational television "so people could work and the kids could keep busy," she said.

"You never know when dental puppets or the Germ Busters might come through the lobby," she added.

"We're air-conditioned, and we're big, and people are more than welcome to come in here. People are in here anyway," Pryde said, adding that some people had already stopped in on Monday. "It's pretty much all summer until school starts back. We don't wait for the official designation of it being too hot."

The combination of temperatures in the 90s and high humidity will produce dangerous heat-index readings of 105 to 115 degrees in the afternoons and evenings for the rest of the week, according to the National Weather Service.

That creates a situation where heat illness can occur for anyone who is outdoors for long periods or lives without air-conditioning.

Here's the full list of cooling centers from the Regional Planning Commission:

— Department of Human Services office, 705 N. Country Fair Drive, C.

— Social Security Administration, 101 S. Country Fair Drive, C.

— Champaign County Public Health District, 201 W. Kenyon Road, C.

— Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C.

— Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U.

— Mahomet Public Library, 1702 E. Oak St., Mahomet.

— Market Place Mall, 2000 N. Neil St., C.

— Lincoln Square, downtown Urbana.

— Hospital emergency rooms.

— Convenient Care offices.

First Call for Help in Champaign and Rantoul can also refer people to cooling sites or other help if needed. Call 352-6300 or 893-1530. Neither is a designated cooling center, but the Community Service Center of Northern Champaign County, 520 E. Wabash Ave., Rantoul, which operates First Call for Help in Rantoul, allows people to drop in briefly to cool off during its office hours from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Executive Director Andy Kulczycki.

 

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Julie Wurth is a reporter covering the University of Illinois at The News-Gazette. Her email is jwurth@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@jawurth).