How to handle the summer sizzle

County, township offer tips for keeping cool and staying sane during the dog days of the season.

Two heat advisories have already been issued by Camden County this summer as a pair of heatwaves have hit the Delaware Valley, with more expected on the way throughout July and August.

As such, both the county and the borough are offering residents tips on how to stay safe, sane and cool as temperatures and humidity rise.

To avoid heat-related illness, the Camden County Department of Health and Human Services recommends that residents avoid, as much as possible, working or playing in the hot sun or other hot areas, but wear a head covering if doing so; use air conditioners and/or fans, and open as many windows as possible to release trapped hot air; wear lightweight clothing; drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids, warm and cool, to avoid dehydration; maintain a normal diet; shower or bathe in water that is near skin temperature; do not leave older people, children or pets alone in cars; make sure your pets also have plenty of fresh drinking water.

Camden County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez also advises residents to look for early warning signs of heat stress, which manifest themselves as: decreased energy, slight loss of appetite, faintness, light-headedness and nausea. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should head to a cool environment, drink liquids, remove excess clothing and rest.

“To me that is the most important thing: that we work as a community to prevent heat-related issues. Check on your elders, make sure your pets are safe, not locked in vehicles, and make sure that your children who are outside playing are hydrated. And for seniors, make sure if they don’t have air conditioning, that their windows are open. If not, it can create a dire situation where body temperatures can rise. We hope for a safe and cool summer for the remainder of the season,” said Rodriguez.

The Camden County Freeholder Board is once again distributing free fans to seniors this year. Residents age 60 and older with an income of $25,000 or less are eligible to receive a fan at no cost. To request a fan or to obtain more information, please call the Camden County Division of Senior and Disabled Services at (856) 858-3220.

Lt. Mark Benton, the community relations unit commander with the Gloucester Township Police Department, offered several recommendations for residents in their attempt to beat the heat.

“Closely monitor people who depend on you for care and ask (yourself), ‘Are they drinking enough water, do they have access to air conditioning, do they need help keeping cool?’” Benton wrote in an email. “People that are at greater risk for heat-related illnesses (should) stay in air-conditioned buildings and not rely on just fans to stay cool. (Visit) a mall or public buildings (such as) a library or restaurant. Hydrate: don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. Try not to bake or cook. Take cool showers or baths to cool down. Never leave children in vehicles.”

Benton also suggested keeping a list of cooling centers in Camden County at the ready. Such places include the Gloucester Township Boro Hall (1261 Chews Landing Road, Gloucester Township), the Hider Lane Senior Center (1571 Hider Lane, Gloucester Township) and the Winslow Edward “Bud” Duble Center (33 Cooper Folly Road, Winslow Township). 

The complete list of cooling centers can be found on the county’s website: http://www.camdencounty.com/service/health-human-services/cooling-centers/ 

Ryan Lawrence contributed to this story.