With temperatures expected to reach into the high 90s and possibly 100 over the next few days, the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) is urging residents to take steps to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
“Illnesses caused by excessive heat can require hospitalization at times and even be a life-threatening condition,” said Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett. “In extremely hot weather, it is vital to drink plenty of fluids, spend time in cool places and reduce or reschedule any physical activity. And please remember to check on elderly family members and neighbors to make sure they are safe.”
Prolonged heat and humidity can present a serious health hazard, especially for young children, the elderly and persons taking certain medications.
To avoid health complications from excessive heat:
- Drink plenty of water or other non-alcoholic beverages.
- Make sure children and the elderly are drinking water, and ensure that persons with mobility problems have adequate fluids in easy reach.
- Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays
- Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and both UVA and UVB protection
- If you do not have air conditioning, spend time in air-conditioned places such as libraries, movies, 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. Reduce physical activity or reschedule it for cooler times of the day (early morning or evening).
- Don't 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.
- Consult health care professionals regarding 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.
People suffering heatstroke can go from appearing normal to extremely ill in a matter of minutes. Victims may have hot, dry skin, a high body temperature of 106 degrees or more, an absence of sweat, and a rapid and strong pulse. Victims may become delirious or unconscious. Persons suffering from heatstroke need immediate medical attention.
Heat exhaustion is a milder illness that may take several days of high temperatures to develop. Victims may have pale, clammy skin and sweat profusely. They may feel tired, weak or dizzy and have headaches or sometimes cramps, but their body temperature will remain close to normal.
Residents should also take steps to protect pets during excessive heat:
- Keep pets indoors in air conditioned rooms during periods of extreme heat.
- Never leave dogs or other pets in parked cars; the temperatures in parked cars rise rapidly and can reach dangerous levels in only a few minutes.
- Limit exercise on hot days to early mornings and evenings when the temperatures are lower.
- Provide ample cool water and shade to pets while they are outside.
- If pets show signs of heatstroke (heavy panting vomiting, disorientation, collapse) seek immediate veterinary care; heatstroke is life threatening.
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