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With summer comes the potential for extremely high and sometimes dangerous temperatures. According to statistics provided by the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services, more than 1,200 New Jerseyans visit the Emergency Room every year for heat-related illness, including severe sunburn. Overexposure to the heat causes as many as 170 hospitalizations in the State every year, and the majority of those cases entail an extended hospital stay of at least three days.
There are several key steps to coping with the heat and staying safe through the dog days of summer.
• Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic beverages. Make sure your children, pets, and the elderly are also well-hydrated, and make sure fluids are easily accessible for those who have trouble getting around.• Wear loose, light-colored, lightweight clothing – including a hat when you are outdoors.• Avoid outdoor activity during daytime hours. Also, reduce your physical activity for the day and reschedule activities for the cooler hours in the early morning or evening.• Avoid a tragedy: do not leave children, the elderly or disabled, or your pets in an enclosed car, even for just a minute. Temperatures can rise to dangerous levels in a matter of minutes.• If you are on any medications, consult your health care provider about whether your medication might increase your risk of heat-related illness.
Prolonged heat and humidity pose a serious health hazard to young children, as well as the sick and elderly, those with mobility problems, and individuals taking certain medications. Now is the time when we need all of our residents to act as good citizens and check in on family members and elderly neighbors to make sure they remain healthy in the warmer months.
Residents should try to stay as cool as possible and avoid spending time in locations that are not air-conditioned. If residents are without air-conditioning in their home, they can spend time in public facilities that are kept cool, such as movie theaters, libraries, and shopping malls. Here in Cherry Hill, residents can visit the Cherry Hill Mall, the Cherry Hill Public Library on Kings Highway, or the Carman Tilelli Community Center next to Town Hall.
If residents choose to stay at home, please be aware that while electric fans may provide some relief, they will not prevent heat-related illness when the temperature rises, particularly if they are kept in a room with the windows shut.
Finally, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion can require hospital care, while heat stroke can cost you your life. Heat stroke sufferers can go from seemingly normal to very ill in just minutes. According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services, symptoms include hot, dry skin, a body temperature of 106 degrees or more, an absence of sweat, and a rapid and strong pulse. Additionally, victims may become delirious or unconscious. Anyone suffering from heatstroke should seek immediate medical attention. Heat exhaustion is milder, and can take several days of high temperatures to develop. Symptoms include pale, clammy skin and sweating profusely. Victims may feel tired, weak or dizzy and have headaches or sometimes cramps, but their body temperature will stay close to normal. Those at the highest risk for heat-related illnesses include children less than four years of age, seniors over 65, those who are overweight, and those who are ill or on certain medications.
Summertime can be full of fun and relaxation, but many forget the need to take it easy when the temperatures rise. By remembering these hot-weather tips, you can enjoy a safe and healthy summer. Stay cool!