By Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders
Monmouth County is the place you want to be, but its beaches and parks may be the places you need to be when local temperatures head north of 90 degrees.
While the local beaches and the County park system can provide seaside breezes and shady trees, the Monmouth County Health Department offers the following reminders:
• Stay in the shade, as trees provide welcome shade;
• If you head to the beach, be sure to bring an umbrella;
• Wear sunscreen and lightweight, light-colored clothing to reflect some of the sun’s energy;
• Drink plenty of water even if you do not feel thirsty. Limit alcohol, and sugary drinks which speed dehydration;
• Slow down. Avoid exertion during the hottest part of the day. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day – in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m., and
• Eat small meals and eat more often.
People suffer heat-related illness when their body is unable to compensate and properly cool itself. The body normally cools itself by sweating, but under extreme heat conditions sometimes sweating is not enough.
In addition to exacerbating certain preexisting health conditions, overexposure to heat can cause heatstroke, sunstroke, heat collapse, cramps, and heat exhaustion due to water depletion or salt depletion. Those at greatest risk for heat-related illness include children less than 4 years of age, people 65 and older, people who are overweight, and people who are ill or on certain medications.
“If you live near a person who is elderly or has a disability, knock on their doors to check on them,” Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso said. “You may be the one person that they are in contact with during a hot day and you can check to see that they are keeping cool and hydrated.”
Some other heat-related tips to those who prefer not to head outside in the warm weather are:
• Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible;
• If your home is not air-conditioned, spend at least two hours daily at an air-conditioned mall, library or other public place;
• Take a cool shower or bath;
• Never leave children or pets alone in the car, and
• Be a good neighbor; check on elderly and special needs individuals in your community.
Freeholder John P. Curley, liaison to the Monmouth County Health Department, cautions residents to be aware that extreme heat conditions can trigger physical ailments such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Below are some of the County Health Department’s answers to the frequently asked questions about heat stroke:
What is heat stroke?
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. The body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heatstroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided.
What are the warning signs of a heat stroke?
Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:
• An extremely high body temperature – above 103°F
• Red, hot, and dry skin; no sweating
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
What should I do if I see someone with any of the warning signs of heatstroke?
If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim. Do the following:
• Get the victim to a shady area;
• Cool the victim rapidly. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously;
• Continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F;
• If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for instructions;
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink, and
• Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
A complete list of beaches and County parks is available on the Monmouth County website at www.visitmonmouth. com. For information about events and activities that may help you beat the heat, click on the link to the tourism section of the website.
For more information regarding heat-related emergencies, please log on to the state’s emergency preparedness website at www.ready.nj.gov.