Officials preparing for extreme summer heat

Representatives from the township, county offer tips on how to keep cool.

Summer, a season synonymous with trips to the beach and days spent poolside, has its fair share of hazards – namely the increasingly high temperatures. The county and municipality have tips and advice for beating the summer heat.

A lot of Gloucester County’s workings come from the office of emergency management, a department coordinated by Dennis McNulty. The office of emergency management trains and prepares to respond to or prevent all types of disasters ranging from natural to man-caused, including terroristic acts.

This includes heatwaves, something that could affect the county.

“Standard recommendations are drink plenty of fluid, stay in an air-conditioned room,” he said. “If you work outdoors, try to limit time and take breaks. If you’re exercising or work involves strenuous activity, work in the morning or evening. Recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, wear loose-fitting clothing. I can’t stress enough to cover yourself from the sun and drink plenty of fluids.”

The signs of heat stroke are a throbbing headache, dizziness or light-headedness, lack of sweating despite the heat, muscle weakness or cramps, nausea and vomiting, a rapid heartbeat, either strong or weak, and rapid or shallow breathing.

The office of emergency management monitors the National Weather Service website to receive data on the forecasts. If they recognize a heatwave and want to issue a heat advisory, they will inform their colleagues in emergency management at the local level. From there, residents can check the Deptford  Township social media accounts and its website, deptford-nj.org.

An added measure to combat the heat at the county level is offering free box fans to senior citizens. If interested, call (856) 384-6900 for more information or visit the division of senior services located at 115 Budd Blvd. in West Deptford.

Capt. Ian McShane, the administrative bureau commander of the Deptford Township Police Department, has a two-word recommendation for beating the summer heat.

“Avoid it,” he joked via email.

Sure, sticking inside if you have central air-conditioning is a wise move. But what if you lose power? What if your older neighbor up the street doesn’t have an effective air-conditioning unit?

“Embrace the sense of community and look after one another,” McShane said. “If you have an elderly neighbor or one in poor health, check-in on them. As always, if there appears to be a situation beyond your control, call for assistance – police, fire, and medical services are there for you.”

As McShane mentioned, the elderly are especially at risk during heatwaves. 

“Having a medical background, I can tell you that dehydration decreases the body’s ability to regulate its temp – so without proper hydration the body is more at risk to develop heat illness,” he said. “Like dehydration, as we age the body is naturally less efficient in regulating its temperature so seniors are especially at risk. Coupled with chronic medical conditions, some medications, salt-restricted diets …. older adults should be particularly aware of the effects that excessive heat can have on the body.”

Deptford residents are welcome any time at the First Baptist Church of Jericho (981 Mail Ave., 856-357-1706) to cool off, McShane said. You can also call the police station directly (856-845-5300) if you need help and 9-1-1, of course, in the event of an emergency. Deptford Township’s Emergency Medical Services can also be reached by phone (856-845-6473) and email (medicaltransport@deptford-nj.org). 

For more information on the office of emergency management within the county at large, there is a Facebook page titled “Gloucester County Emergency Management.” The county offers a phone application residents can download called “Gloucester RU Ready” that posts the same information that goes to the Facebook page as well as sends alerts or notifications. When in doubt, visit the county website www.co.gloucester.nj.us.

Ryan Lawrence contributed to this story.