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How to stay cool in the summer heat

Mayor’s Message: Bernie Platt

With the Fourth of July behind us, it’s safe to say summer is in full swing, bringing with it the extremely high and sometimes dangerous temperatures we’ve seen in recent weeks.

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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 a heat-related illness, or even sunburn.

Overexposure to the heat can cause as many as 170 hospitalizations in the state every year, and the majority of those cases — in men between the ages of 65 and 84 — entail an extended hospital stay of at least three days.

In light of those startling statistics, I feel it’s prudent to remind everyone that there are several key steps to staying safe and healthy through the dog days of summer.

I implore all of you to act as good citizens and check in on both your own family members and any frail or elderly neighbors you might have, to make sure they, too, remain healthy in the warmer months.

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.

To avoid health complications from excessive heat:

Try to stay as cool as possible, and avoid spending time in locations that are not air-conditioned.

If you are without air conditioning in your home, spend time in public facilities that are, such as movie theaters, libraries, and shopping malls.

Here in Cherry Hill, you 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 you choose to stay at home, know that, while electric fans will provide some relief, they will not prevent heat-related illness when the temperature passes 95 degrees.

And fans will do absolutely no good if they’re kept in a room with the windows shut.

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’re outdoors.

Avoid any outdoor activity during the day. Also, reduce your physical activity for the day — and any activity you do should be scheduled for the cooler hours in the early morning, or in the 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.

And if you are on any medications, consult your health care provider about whether your medication might increase your risk of heat-related illness.

Finally, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion can require hospital care, and heat stroke can cost your life.

People suffer heat-related illnesses when their bodies can’t properly cool themselves.

The body normally cools itself by sweating — but in some cases, sweating isn’t enough, and a person’s body temperature rises rapidly, sometimes causing damage to the brain or other vital organs.

Those at the highest risk for heat-related illness include children under 4 years of age, seniors over 65, those who are overweight, and those who are ill or on certain medications.

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. Persons suffering from heatstroke need 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.

Summertime can be full of fun and relaxation — but it’s easy to forget that we should take it easy when the temperatures rise.

Please, keep in mind these hot weather tips, so you can safely and healthfully enjoy the Jersey Shore, attend neighborhood picnics, and spend time in your own back yards this summer.

For more information regarding heat emergencies, please visit FEMA’s website at: http://www.fema.gov/hazard/heat/heat_during.shtm.

Anyone with further questions or concerns may contact Cherry Hill Office of Emergency Management (OEM) at 432–8836.

For after-hours emergencies, please contact 665–1200 and ask for OEM.


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