Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
June 27, 2002
R. Lacy, M.D.
Further Information Contact:
Laura Otterbourg or Dennis McGowan
TRENTON - Health
and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D., is urging
New Jersey residents to take steps to protect themselves, their
families and neighbors from heat-related illnesses, especially as
temperatures reach into the 90s and the air becomes humid this summer.
heat and humidity pose a serious health risk to the very young,
the elderly, people with chronic diseases, and those who work or
exercise vigorously outdoors," said Dr. Lacy. "While these
individuals are at greater risk of heat exhaustion, heatstroke or
other heat-related illnesses, it is prudent for everyone to take
precautions this summer."
the most serious of these illnesses, occurs when the body loses
the ability to cool itself. Victims can go from being apparently
normal to being extremely ill in a matter of minutes. They will
have a high body temperature (106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher),
very hot and dry skin, a rapid and strong pulse, and may be delirious
or unconscious. Persons suffering from heatstroke need immediate
exhaustion is a milder illness that may take several days of high
temperatures to develop. It occurs when the body's water and salts
lost through perspiration are not adequately replaced. Victims may
have pale, clammy skin and be sweating profusely. They may feel
tired and weak, dizzy, have headache and sometimes cramps, but their
body temperature is close to normal. Heat exhaustion can be severe
enough to require hospitalization.
of the most important ways to prevent heat-related illnesses is
to drink plenty of fluids, even if you aren't thirsty," Dr.
Lacy said. "A body under stress from heat may require up to
50 percent more fluid intake than thirst would indicate. One should
avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine that can lead to dehydration."
Dr. Lacy said senior citizens and those concerned about a senior's
health, should call the New Jersey EASE toll-free telephone service
at 1-877-222-3737 to get advice on coping with the heat. This one
number connects seniors statewide with their local County Office
on Aging, which can provide information on nearby air-conditioned
public sites as well as assistance with transportation. Spending
even a few hours in an air-conditioned place - such as a shopping
mall or library - can help anyone, especially the elderly, cope
with hot, humid weather.
advice offered by the Department of Health and Senior Services for
avoiding heat-related illness includes the following:
Check on elderly relatives and neighbors to see if they need help
taking proper heat precautions, or if they need medical attention
because of the heat. Make sure that individuals who are bedridden
or have mobility problems have adequate fluids within easy reach.
you are elderly or otherwise at risk, take advantage of any air-conditioned
shelters that are set up during heat waves.
care not to overdress children and to give them plenty of liquids
to drink throughout the day. Children under age five, particularly
those under age one, are especially sensitive to the effects of
leave children, a frail elderly or disabled person or pets in
an enclosed car - not even for a minute - as temperatures can
quickly climb to dangerous levels.
possible, reduce physical activity or reschedule it for the cooler
parts of the day. Wear loose and light-colored clothing. When
in the sun, be sure to wear a hat or head covering.
with your health care provider before taking salt tablets. Salt
supplements are not necessary for the general public, although
those who regularly work under very hot conditions should consider
drinking fluids supplemented with the appropriate salts.
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
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