Williamstown’s officials offer residents ways to beat the heat

As temperatures reach unhealthy levels, township aims to stay safe this summer

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 warnings 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 effect 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.

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.

At the local level, a cooling center for seniors is offered in town – the Pfeiffer Community Center on Blue Bell Road. If a heat advisory is issued, anyone can visit the center to cool off and take advantage of an air-conditioned room. Monroe Township’s emergency management coordinator and chief of police, James DeHart, said the library is open to residents as well for those who wish to take advantage of an air-conditioned space.

Ron Borkowski, deputy coordinator of the office of emergency management in Monroe Township, gave simple advice for beating the heat and staying cool this summer.

“The key is to find air conditioning,” he said. “If there’s power loss, the Pfeiffer community will be open. Drink fluids, plenty of fluids.”

From there, Borkowski referenced the FEMA website that includes additional information like avoid strenuous activities and wear light clothing. DeHart added some information he finds crucial as well.

“Stay in shade, check on people and pets too,” he said. “Don’t forget about pets because the heat can affect them more than us. That’s something we consider.”

Monroe Township’s office of emergency management works hand-in-hand with Gloucester County’s. The two entities have access to a program called “Everbridge,” a system that sends communication through email, text or voice. This system can give residents alerts for extreme weather conditions like a tornado or heatwave or community events like the music festival or National Night Out. DeHart said the system is free, the only expense could be if a resident is charged for text messaging or data usage. To sign up for the program, visit gloucesteralert.com

There are seven members of Monroe Township’s office of emergency management – one of whom is on call at all times. If you are experiencing an emergency, DeHart and Bowkowski recommend you call 9-1-1. Any other calls can be made to the police non-emergency line at (856) 728-0800. For more information about the FEMA article Borkowski referenced, visit ready.gov/heat. For more information on the office of emergency management, there is a Facebook page titled “Gloucester County Emergency Management.”