WEST TRENTON—Temperatures and heat indexes are estimated to build into the upper 90s, and possibly even reach 100 degrees or higher by Friday and into the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. The New Jersey Office of Emergency Management is monitoring the excessive heat and warns that older adults and people with disabilities are especially at risk.
“Our elderly and disabled neighbors, relatives and friends are more prone to heat stress than younger or able-bodied persons,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, State Police Superintendent and Director of the NJ Office of Emergency Management. “Their risk can be minimized if we practice heat-related precautions and guidelines. Check on those you know, who may need assistance keeping cool, especially if they live alone.”
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults and people with disabilities are more at risk for heat because they do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature; they are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat; and they are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.
The CDC also offers the following tips for older adults, persons with disabilities and/or their caregivers:
- Visit older adults who are at risk at least twice a day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of their activity level.
- Warning: If their doctor generally limits the amount of fluid they drink or they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.
- Take them to air-conditioned locations, if they have transportation problems.
Everyone, regardless of age or disability status, should follow these heat-related emergency safety tips:
- Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible
- If you do go outside, stay in the shade
- If your home is not air conditioned, spend at least two hours daily at an air conditioned mall, library, senior center or other public place
- Wear sunscreen outside, along with loose fitting light colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible
- Drink water regularly even if you are not thirsty. Limit alcohol, and sugary drinks which speeds dehydration
- Never leave children or pets alone in the car
- Avoid exertion during the hottest part of the day
- Take a cool shower or bath
Additionally, residents should contact their local and/or county offices of emergency management regarding any open cooling stations.
Heat is often referred to as the “silent killer,” in contrast to tornados, hurricanes and other natural hazards with more dramatic visual effects. For more information regarding heat related emergencies and a list of the County Emergency Management Offices, log on to www.ready.nj.gov, or visit the National Weather Service Heat Safety Page (http://www.weather.gov/om/heat/index.shtml). The US Center for Disease Control Heat Safety Page (http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/) contains information about the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Call 2-1-1, New Jersey’s toll-free, confidential help line, for information about heat safety resources.
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