Wednesday, June 25, 2003
With the onset of the first high temperatures of the summer, County Executive Dennis Levinson reminds residents and visitors that oppressively hot weather can cause illness and death. "It's important for everyone to take steps to protect themselves, their loved ones and their neighbors from the heat," he stated.
According to the Atlantic County Division of Public Health, the people most at risk during a heat wave are the elderly, persons with chronic disease, infants and children, outside manual laborers and athletes.
There are a number of steps people can take to guard against heat-related illness. One of the most important is to drink plenty of fluids, even if you don't feel thirsty, but avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
Spending a few hours a day in an air-conditioned place, such as a shopping mall or library, can help anyone, and particularly the elderly, cope with hot humid weather.
Other advice for avoiding heat-related illness:
· Check on elderly relatives and neighbors to see if they need help taking proper heat precautions, or if they need medical attention because of the heat.
· If you are elderly or otherwise at risk, take advantage of any air-conditioned shelters that are set up during heat waves. Residents sixty years of age or older may find comfort from the heat at any of the county's nine air conditioned senior centers. Call 1-888-426-9243 for the location nearest you.
· Take care not to overdress children and to give them plenty of liquids to drink. Children under age five and especially those under age one are especially sensitive to the effects of the heat.
· Don't leave children and pets in enclosed cars, as temperatures can quickly climb to dangerous levels.
· If possible, reduce physical activity or schedule it for the cooler parts of the day.
· Wear loose and light-colored clothing.
· Check with your health provider before taking salt tablets. Salt supplements are not necessary for the general public, although those who regularly work under very hot conditions may need them.
· Talk to your health provider about any medicine or drugs you are taking. Certain medications, such as tranquilizers and drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, can increase the risk of heat-related illness.
· Remember the heat also affects pets. Make sure pets have plenty of water and if left outside, plenty of shade. Please keep in mind a tree providing shade for your pet in the morning may not offer the same shade coverage in the afternoon.
For further information on heat-related illness, contact the Atlantic County Division of Public Health, at 645-5935.