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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
|Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.|
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As summer begins, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) reminds residents to have fun in the sun while taking steps to avoid sunburn and heat-related illness.
"Whether youíre at the beach, the ballpark or a backyard barbecue, itís important to take simple measures that can help avoid a trip to the emergency room," said Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Summer health risks include sunburn, and the long-term risk of skin cancer, as well as heat exhaustion and heat stroke Ė illnesses that can lead to immediate and severe health complications.
"Hot weather is particularly dangerous for the very young and the very old because they are more prone to heat-related illnesses," Dr. Jacobs added.† "If you have family or neighbors who are seniors, be sure to check on them when the temperatures rise to make sure they are hydrated and staying cool."
Heatstroke occurs when the body loses the ability to cool itself. †People can go from appearing normal to extremely ill in a matter of minutes. They may develop a high body temperature of 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, very hot and dry skin, a rapid and strong pulse, and may become delirious or unconscious. Persons suffering from heatstroke need immediate medical attention.
Heat exhaustion is a milder illness that may take several days of high temperatures to develop. It occurs when the body's water and salts are lost through perspiration and are not adequately replaced. Victims may have pale, clammy skin and sweat profusely. They may feel tired, weak or dizzy and have headaches or sometimes cramps, but their body temperature will remain close to normal. Heat exhaustion can be severe enough to require hospitalization.
Take the following precautions to avoid health complications from excessive heat:
It is also important to avoid sunburn, which can cause skin damage that accumulates over time and contributes significantly to the later risk of skin cancer.† More than 1 million skin cancer cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
People from all racial and ethnic groups can develop skin cancer, although those with lighter skin are at much greater risk, particularly of developing its most deadly formómelanoma.† More than 2,900 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in
It is important to use sun protection even on cloudy or cool days as damaging sun rays can pierce clouds and burn the skin.† To protect against sunburn, use a UVA and UVB sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater, and wear a hat with a four-inch brim that shades eyes, face and the back of the neck.† Wearing sunglasses will protect the eyes from UV rays, protect the skin around the eyes and reduce the risk of cataracts.
If possible, wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, avoid outdoor activities during midday when the sunís UV rays are the strongest, and stay in the shade whenever possible, whether under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter.
For more information on preventing heat-related illness, please visit the DHSS web site at www.nj.gov/health/eoh/hhazweb/cool.htm.†† For more information on skin cancer, please visit †www.nj.gov/health/ccp/monthly.shtml.
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Department of Health
P. O. Box 360, Trenton, NJ 08625-0360