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Excessive heat delays New Jersey high school graduation. Here's what schools are worried about.

Newark activates "Code Red" program to deal with the heat
Newark activates "Code Red" program to deal with the heat 02:50

CLIFTON, N.J. -- Excessive heat is creating dangerous conditions in New Jersey and delaying at least one high school graduation. 

Clifton High School announced Thursday's graduation ceremony will be pushed back from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. because of the oppressive weather on the last day of school. 

"I'm actually so happy about it because it was going to be like 90 degrees out at 3 p.m. and it's also more practical because a lot of families, they work at that time. So then more people can actually go see their kids graduate," said senior Camila Marin. 

"I think it's better. Not only because, obviously, you're going to look good, buy you never know what other health conditions other people might be having. So I think it's great to consider other people's safety as well," said senior Paulina Garcia. 

Other districts impacted by the scorching temperatures include East Orange, Old Bridge and Perth Amboy. They called for a half-day or early dismissal Thursday out of an abundance of caution.   

Schools across the state have been adjusting their schedules all week in response to the heat.

See the First Alert Forecast here.

Newark activates "Code Red"

The temperatures were so intense, reaching the high 90s on Thursday, Newark activated a Code Red, the highest level of its new emergency plan, that will last through Friday.

"We want people to remain vigilant during this time," said Karessa Cobbs, the city's emergency preparedness coordinator.

Cobbs said the city came up with the plan in May, but didn't think it would be used so quickly.

"We are activating the plan sooner than expected," Cobbs said.

Mayor Raz Baraka's office is deploying outreach teams city-wide to monitor the health of residents, advising people to say inside air-conditioned spaces, and to text "Path Home" to 855-11 if someone is in need of help.

Since Newark has few parks and a lot of asphalt, officials are also concerned about nightfall.

"Newark is unusually difficult to cool down at night, so that's why we are careful at monitoring at night," city health officer Marsha McGowan said.

Ridgewood water restriction

In Ridgewood, leaders placed a voluntary restriction on water, which asks residents to not water their lawns until the end of the week. 

Officials warned excessive water use has already caused water tanks to reach dangerously low levels. If the tanks do not refill, the town may have to stop use of all sprinkler systems. 

What is a heat advisory? 

The National Weather Service issues a heat advisory when the heat index is forecast to rise to between 95 and 99 degrees for at least two days in a row. A heat advisory is also issued if the heat index is forecast to rise between 100 and 104 degrees.   

What is an excessive heat warning?

The National Weather Service issues excessive heat warnings 24 hours in advance of a forecasted heat index of at least 105 degrees for at least two consecutive hours. Although not always the case, excessive heat warnings usually coincide with heat waves. 

Heat stroke symptoms

Heat stroke is the most serious heat related illness and it can result in disability or death. When someone experiences heat stroke, their body temperature can rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10 to 15 minutes and they stop producing sweat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Symptoms include: 

  • Hot, dry skin
  • Confusion, hallucinations or disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness or being unresponsive
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness

Find more summer safety tips here.

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