FREEHOLD, NJ – The National Weather Service is expecting local temperatures this week to hit in the upper 90s and possibly even reach 100 degrees by Friday and into the weekend.

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While the local beaches and the county park system are available to help you cool down, Monmouth County’s Human Services Department has several reminders to help you manage the heat:

•     Stay indoors in air conditioning as much as possible;

•     If you are out of doors, stay in the shade, 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 away 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.

“It may be better for some residents to stay inside and in air-conditioned spaces as the outdoor temperatures and humidity rise.” said Freeholder Deputy Director John P. Curley, liaison to the county Health Department. “For others, the phrase ‘cooler at the shore’ has special meaning this week.”

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults and people with disabilities are more at risk for heat because they do not adjust as well as young people to sudden changes in temperature; they are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that changes normal body responses to heat; and they are more likely to take prescription medicines that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that inhibit perspiration.

The CDC offers the following tips to help care for older adults and persons with disabilities:

•     Visit older adults who are at risk, at least twice a day, and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

•     Encourage them to increase their fluid intake by drinking cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of their activity level. Warning: If their doctor generally limits the amount of fluid they drink or they are on water pills, they will need to ask their doctor how much they should drink while the weather is hot.

•     Take them to air-conditioned locations.

“If you live near an elderly person, knock on the door to check on them,” said Freeholder Amy A. Mallet, liaison to the county’s Human Services Department. “People who are seeking relief from the heat can spend a few hours at our county libraries, which are designated cooling stations.”

In addition to exacerbating certain pre-existing health conditions, overexposure to heat can cause heat stroke, 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, persons 65 and older, persons who are overweight and persons who are ill or on certain medications.

The county’s Office of Emergency Management also offers additional heat-related tips to those who prefer not to head outside in the warm weather:

•     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.

The county’s Health Department cautions residents to be aware that extreme heat conditions can trigger physical ailments such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The Monmouth County Health Department has assembled answers to 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. Heat stroke 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

•     Dizziness

•     Nausea

•     Confusion

•     Unconsciousness

What should I do if I see someone with any of the warning signs of heat stroke?

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 the county parks is available on the Monmouth County Web site 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 Web site. For more information regarding heat related emergencies, please log on to the state’s emergency preparedness website at www.ready.nj.gov