STATE — With parts of New Jersey under an excessive heat watch this weekend, the Department of Health is reminding New Jersey residents to take steps to stay cool to avoid heat related health hazards.
“Drink plenty of water, spend time inside air conditioned places and try not to over-exert yourself in the heat and humidity,” said Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd. “Also, take time to check on the elderly and young children to ensure they are safe during this hot and humid weather.”
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch for Camden, Gloucester, Mercer and parts of Burlington County from Saturday morning through Sunday evening.
A list of cooling centers can be found at http://www.nj211.org/images/Summer%20Heat/NJCoolingCenters.pdf
To avoid health complications due to heat, officials advise residents to take the following steps:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and ensure that persons with mobility problems have adequate fluids in easy reach;
- Don’t leave children, an elderly or a disabled person, or pets in an enclosed car — not even for a minute — as temperatures can quickly climb to dangerous levels;
- If you do not have air conditioning, spend time in air-conditioned places such as libraries, movie theaters, malls or other public buildings during the hottest hours of the day. Check with your municipality to see if cooling centers are available;
- Wear loose and light-colored clothing. Wear a hat when outdoors;
- Avoid any outdoor activity during the hottest hours of the day. Minimize physical activity for cooler times of the day (early morning or evening); and
- Talk to your health care provider about any medicine or drugs you are taking. Certain medications — such as tranquilizers and drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease — can increase the risk of heat-related illness
Residents can contact their local and/or county offices of emergency management regarding any open air-conditioned senior centers or cooling stations, or call 2-1-1. For more information regarding heat related emergencies, visit www.ready.nj.gov, the National Weather Service Heat Safety Page (http://www.weather.gov/om/heat/index.shtml), or NJ 2-1-1 (www.nj211.org). Air quality can be monitored at www.airnow.gov.
Serious health complications due to high heat include heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to excessive loss of water and salt through sweating. Those most prone to heat exhaustion include the elderly and those with high blood pressure. Symptoms include: Heavy sweating, weakness or fatigue, dizziness, confusion, nausea and shallow breathing.
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related medical complication. Symptoms include: Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, hallucinations, chills, throbbing headache, confusion/dizziness and slurred speech. The body becomes unable to control its temperature and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. If untreated, heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability.
If you notice someone with symptoms of heat stroke seek medical attention immediately, move the affected person to a cool, shaded area and pour cool water over the person. For more on heat exhaustion and heat stroke, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/hhazweb/cool.htm#STROKE
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