5/30/2013 - Health Dept: Heat Wave Information
NJ’s First Heat Wave of the Season
-- Poison Center Experts Warn About Safety --

Steven Marcus, MD, Executive and Medical Director,
Bruce Ruck, Pharm.D., Director, Drug Information and Professional Education
New Jersey Poison Information and Education System (NJPIES)

(Newark, NJ) – May 30, 2013 — New Jersey residents find themselves in the midst of a heat wave expected to linger into the weekend where temps are predicted to reach 90 degrees or higher.

The NJ Poison Experts are reminding the public that with such excessive heat, the potential for someone to develop heat-related illness increases significantly. Often referred to as “heatstroke” or “sunstroke,” heat-related illness occurs when a person’s body temperature rises to a dangerous level. Factors such as underlying medical problems, dehydration and medication usage all play a role in heat-related illness. Humans can reduce their body temperature in various ways, the most obvious of which is sweating. On hot, humid days, the increased moisture in the air slows the evaporation of sweat. When sweating is not adequate to cool your body, your temperature rises, and you may become ill.

It is important to remember that the elderly, the very young, those with chronic illnesses, and pets are at greatest risk for developing heat-related illnesses. In addition, certain medications increase one’s risk. By knowing who is at risk and what prevention measures to take, heat-related illness and death can be prevented. Call the NJ Poison Experts at 1-800-222-1222 if you have any questions regarding heat-related illnesses.

Medications, which increase the risk of developing heat related illness, include but are not limited to:
• Tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline- ElavilR, imipramine- TofranilR, etc)
• Antihistamines (diphenhydramine- BenadrylR, chlorpheniramine- Chlor-TrimetonR)
• Diuretics (furosemide- LasixR, hydrochlorthiazide, DiurilR)
• Antipsychotics (haloperidol- HaldolR)

Tips to prevent heat illness:
• Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting, open-woven clothes.
• Wear a vented hat in the sun to protect yourself from the sun’s rays. Don’t forget sunscreen!
• Drink extra water (fluids) all day and less tea, coffee, cola and alcoholic beverages! Do NOT wait until you feel thirsty to drink – it may be too late!
• During outdoor activities, take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water or other fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
• Reduce or schedule outdoor activity for cooler times of the day, before 10am and after 6pm.
• If you have a chronic medical problem, ask your doctor about how to deal with the heat.

If the unthinkable happens, it’s good to know help is just a phone call away. If someone is unconscious, not breathing, seizing/convulsing, bleeding profusely, difficult to arouse/wake up, etc. call 911 immediately, otherwise call the NJ Poison Center at 800-222-1222. While a quick web search may seem like an easy option, it is no substitute for calling the poison center and speaking with medical experts (doctors, nurses, and pharmacists). A mistreated exposure can escalate an easy-in-home treatment into a trip to the hospital. In the event of a poison exposure, every second counts so calling the poison center is the smart thing to do!! You may also chat or text in using our website, www.njpies.org.

The NJ Poison Experts are always here to help with emergencies or questions involving medicines, chemicals, household products, environmental contaminants, plants, or other poisons. Help is available in over 150 languages; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. Program the Poison Help line (800-222-1222) into your cell phone and post it near your home and office phones too. There are no silly questions and our health professionals are always available to answer a question, quell a fear, provide advice, or intervene to get emergency services on site and prepped to provide the needed protocol in the fastest response time. When in doubt, check it out by calling, texting, or chatting - Prevention is truly the best possible medicine. Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/njpies) and Twitter (@NJPoisonCenter) for breaking news, safety tips, trivia questions, etc. BE POISON SMART! Share poison prevention tips with your family (including children), friends, and coworkers.