As South Jersey prepares for its first potential heat wave of the summer later this week, Atlantic County health officials remind residents to take precautions to avoid heat-related illness.
Heat waves lead to more deaths each year in the U.S. than tornadoes, earthquakes, floods and hurricanes combined. An average of 618 annual deaths result from heat-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those most at risk for heat-related illness include sensitive populations such as the elderly, infants and young children; outdoor laborers; people who are overweight; people with mental illness; people suffering from asthma, heart disease or other lung diseases. Pets are also susceptible to the effects of heat.
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. Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol as they can contribute to dehydration.
Spending a few hours a day in an air-conditioned place such as a shopping mall or library can help residents, and particularly those most vulnerable, to cope with hot, humid weather. The Atlantic County Library System has 9 branches located throughout Atlantic County. To find a location near you and hours of operation, visit www.AtlanticLibrary.org.
Atlantic County’s senior nutrition centers are also air-conditioned and are available to residents age 60 years and older, Monday through Friday, 9 AM - 2 PM. Visit www.aclink.org/intergenerational or call 1-888-426-9243 for locations and information.
Other advice for avoiding heat-related illness: