Lessons from ’95 disaster help city bare latest heat wave

Chicago learned from a major tragedy and now responds to severe heat differently, author says

By Lolly Bowean, Chicago Tribune reporter, July 8, 2012

In his book, “Heat Wave,” New York University sociology professor and author Eric Klinenberg examined the heat wave disaster in 1995 that led to the deaths of more than 700 residents.

Klinenberg dissected the catastrophe and concluded that part of the reason there were so many deaths was a breakdown of the social structure. Back then, the typical victims who died of heat-related illnesses were living alone, lacked access to transportation and didn’t have family or a social network to check on them.

Many of the victims did not have air conditioners, Klinenberg wrote.

He examined what’s different today as the region dealt with another sweltering heat wave.

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