(Editors Note: Acting Commissioner Dr. Tina Tan is available for radio interviews)
(Trenton) With the heat index soaring to 110 degrees today, the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) urges the elderly, disabled and those with chronic medical conditions to drink plenty of water and visit senior or cooling centers if they do not have air conditioning.
“These are dangerous weather conditions that can cause heat stroke and exacerbate chronic medical conditions, leading to severe complications and death,” said Acting Commissioner Dr. Tina Tan.
The risk of severe illness and death from extreme heat exposure is highest among:
• Older adults, especially those 65 years of age and older
• Adults of all ages with chronic health conditions, especially those with asthma, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity or psychiatric disorders
Residents may locate their nearest cooling center by calling their local senior center, town hall or by calling NJ EASE at 1-877-222-3737. People may also visit the DHSS website for the locations of the nearest senior center (web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/seniorcenter/scsearch.aspx) or Area Agency on Aging (www.nj.gov/health/senior/sa_aaa.shtml).
“The elderly and those with disabilities are most at risk for heat related health crisis because they do not adjust as well to sudden changes in temperature. We urge residents to check on elderly and disabled neighbors, friends and pets to be sure they are safe over the next several days,” said Dr. Tan.
The CDC recommends the following tips for older adults and people 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 drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages
· Check with your physician if you have been told to limit fluids or if you are taking water pills
The Department recommends the following precautions for stay cool:
- Stay indoors in air conditioning
- If you do go outside, stay in the shade
- If your home is not air conditioned, spend as much time as possible in an air conditioned mall, library, senior center, cooling center or pool
- Wear sunscreen, along with loose-fitting, light-colored clothing
- Drink water regularly even if you are not thirsty. Limit alcohol and sugary drinks which speed dehydration
- Keep your pets out of vehicles and if you do have to travel with them, never leave them alone in the car
- Avoid exertion during the hottest part of the day
- Take a cool shower or bath
Residents are also urged to keep close eye on their pets by taking the following actions:
· Make sure your pet has plenty of water; keep water bowls filled
· Never leave your pets unattended in the car - even for a few minutes - in the heat Just a few short minutes in hot weather can lead to heat stroke or death
· Contact your veterinarian if your pet shows signs of heatstroke
Signs of heatstroke include:
- Increased heart rate
- Excessive panting
- Increased salivation
- Bright red tongue
- Red or pale gums
- If you exercise with your dog, make sure you exercise in the coolest hours of the morning or evening
For more information regarding heat related emergencies, please log on to www.ready.nj.gov, visit the National Weather Service Heat Safety Page (http://www.weather.gov/om/heat/index.shtml), or call 2-1-1 New Jersey’s toll-free, confidential help line.