Soaring Temperatures Pose Increased Health Threats
Take Precautions to Beat the Heat
July 17, 2006|
Public Relations Director 609.951.2116; (cell) 609.206.4043|
Editor’s note: American Red Cross Health & Safety Director Kathleen
Pearson is available for interviews. To schedule, contact Diane
Concannon at 609-951-2116 or email@example.com.
PRINCETON, NJ, July 17, 2006 – As the heat wave intensifies over
the next few days, your local American Red Cross urges people need to
take special precautions in dealing with prolonged exposure to high
“Heat can kill by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In
extreme heat and high humidity, the body must work extra hard to
maintain a normal temperature,” according to American Red Cross of
Central New Jersey Health & Safety Director Kathleen Pearson. “All
across Central New Jersey, elderly people, young children, and those who
are sick or overweight are more likely to become victims of extreme
“This can be especially problematic in cities. In urban areas
stagnant atmospheric conditions often trap pollutants, mixing unhealthy
air with excessively hot temperatures. Asphalt and concrete may store
heat longer, as well, gradually releasing it at night,” Pearson adds.
“These higher temperatures create a potent blend of heat and chemicals
call the urban heat island effect. Health risks are increased,
especially for those with respiratory difficulties.”
Take care this summer to beat the heat:
- NEVER leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
Temperatures inside a closed vehicle can reach over 140 degrees F
within minutes. Exposure to such high temperatures can kill in
- Air conditioning provides the safest escape from extreme heat
- there are ways to maximize how it can work for you: Install
window air conditioners snugly. Check air-conditioning ducts for
proper insulation. Vacuum air conditioner filters weekly during
periods of high use to provide more cool air. Make sure your home is
properly insulated, too. This will help conserve electricity and
reduce your home's power demands for air conditioning.
- If your home does not have air conditioning, go elsewhere to get
relief during the warmest part of the day. Stay indoors as much as
possible, on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Keep heat outside
and cool air inside, closing any doors or windows that may allow
heat in. Consider keeping storm windows installed throughout the
year to keep the heat out of a house. Plan to check on family,
friends, and neighbors – especially the elderly – who do not have
air conditioning or who spend much of their time alone.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing that
will cover as much skin as possible. Lightweight, light-colored
clothing reflects heat and sunlight and helps maintain normal body
temperature. Cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn and
over-warming effects of sunlight on your body. Protect your face and
head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, which will keep direct sunlight
off your head and face. Sunlight can burn and warm the inner core of
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids even if you do not
feel thirsty. Injury and death can occur from dehydration, which
can happen quickly and unnoticed. Symptoms of dehydration are often
confused with other causes. Your body needs water to keep cool.
Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies.
- Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can
make you feel good briefly, but make the heat's effects on your body
worse. This is especially true about beer, which actually dehydrates
the body. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver
disease; who are on fluid-restrictive diets; or who have a problem
with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing
- Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. Reduce, eliminate or
reschedule strenuous activities. Get plenty of rest to allow your
natural "cooling system" to work. If you must do strenuous activity,
do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the
morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors. Use a buddy
system when working in extreme heat. Partners can keep an eye on
each other and can assist each other when needed. Sometimes exposure
to heat can cloud judgment. Chances are if you work alone, you may
not notice this.
- Get training and be alert to heat related illness symptoms.
Take an American Red Cross First Aid course to learn how to
treat heat and other emergencies. Everyone should know how to
respond, because the effects of heat can happen very quickly. Watch
for these health signals:
- Heat cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and
spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least
severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having
trouble with the heat. Get the person to a cooler place and have him
or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected
muscle and replenish fluids. Give a half glass of cool water every
15 minutes. Do not give liquids with alcohol or caffeine in them, as
they can cause further dehydration and make conditions worse.
- Heat exhaustion: Cool, moist, pale, or flushed
skin; heavy sweating; headache; nausea or vomiting; dizziness and
exhaustion. One’s body temperature may be normal, or is likely to be
rising. Get the person out of the heat and into a cooler place.
Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths such as
towels or sheets. If the person is conscious, give cool water to
drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool
water every 15 minutes. Let the victim rest in a comfortable
position, and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition.
- Heat stroke: Hot, red skin; changes in
consciousness; rapid, weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing. Body
temperature can be very high--sometimes as high as 105 degrees F. If
the person was sweating from heavy work or exercise, skin may be
wet; otherwise, it will feel dry. Heat stroke is a life-threatening
situation. Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1 or your local
Additional Summer Safety Tips
The American Red Cross of Central New Jersey is a non-governmental
agency that serves the people of Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon, and parts
of Somerset counties. Led by volunteers, the Red Cross offers a broad
array of vital services to our community in need. You can help too –
Volunteer your time, make a monetary donation, donate blood, and/or take
a CPR course. For more information on the programs and services of the
Red Cross and to learn how you can get involved, contact your local
chapter. In central New Jersey, call 609-951-8550 or visit
# # #
707 Alexander Road, Suite 101, Princeton,
NJ 08540-6311 . 609-951-8550 . Fax: 609-951-9787
Hunterdon Branch: 349 Route 31 South, Suite 501, Flemington, NJ 08822 .
908-782-4121 . Fax: 908-782-2864