State Officials Offer Tips For Keeping Cool

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STATE — With temperatures expected to reach over 90 degrees through the rest of this week, the state Department of Health is reminding New Jersey residents there are actions they can take to avoid health complications caused by high temperatures.

“Spend time inside air conditioned places, drink plenty of water and be sure to check on the elderly and young children during this week of hot and humid weather,” said Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd. “Try to avoid over-exerting yourself and take frequent breaks if you are engaging in physical activity.”

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for Mercer, Gloucester, Camden and parts of Burlington County through Wednesday, July 17.

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 recommend taking 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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