With very hot weather in the forecast for the next several days, New Jersey health officials are offering tips and information on how to stay cool, and avoid heat related health hazards.

“Drink plenty of water, spend time inside air-conditioned places and try not to over-exert yourself in the heat and humidity. Also, take time to check on the elderly and young children to ensure they are safe during this hot and humid weather,” then-Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd told New Jersey 101.5 in 2013. It's still good advice.

To avoid health complications due to heat, please take the following steps:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and ensure that persons with mobility problems have adequate fluids in easy reach.
  • Don't leave children, an elderly or a disabled person, or pets in an enclosed car, not even for a minute, temperatures can quickly climb to dangerous levels.
  • If you do not have air conditioning, spend time in air-conditioned places such as libraries, movie theaters, malls or other public buildings during the hottest hours of the day. Check with your municipality to see if cooling centers are available
  • Wear loose and light-colored clothing. Wear a hat when outdoors.
  • Avoid any outdoor activity during the hottest hours of the day. Minimize physical activity for cooler times of the day.
  • Talk to your health care 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.

Serious health complications can result from high heat. Heat exhaustion is the body's response to excessive loss of water and salt through sweating. Those most prone to heat exhaustion include the elderly and those with high blood pressure. Symptoms include: Heavy sweating, weakness or fatigue, dizziness, confusion, nausea and shallow breathing.

A list of New Jersey cooling centers can be found at here. Residents can also contact their local or county offices of emergency management regarding any open air-conditioned senior centers or cooling stations, or call 211.

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