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Summer is here and with more intense sun, comes extreme heat. Parents should learn some important facts to keep their children safe in the heat.
According to USA Safe Kids, heat affects children more easily than it affects adults so parents should watch their children carefully for any sign of heat stroke or dehydration. Last year 42 children died in the U.S. from heat stroke caused by being left or trapped in a vehicle.
Heat stroke happens when a child’s core body reaches a temperature of 104 degrees F. A core body temperature of 107 degrees F is fatal.
If a child is kept in a hot vehicle, the child’s core body temperature could increase three to five times faster than an adult, according to SafeKids. This kind of high temperature can cause permanent injury or death to children.
San Francisco State University researchers have shown that the inside of a car reaches dangerous temperatures in just minutes, even when the temperature starts out as low as 70 degrees F. Their research shows that the temperature inside a vehicle can rise 19 degrees above the outside temperature in only 10 minutes, according to the SafeKids website. After an hour, the temperature can increase by 45 degrees or more.
What can parents do?
- Make sure children don’t play in, on, or around vehicles
- NEVER leave a child alone in a car for any reason for any amount of time
- Always make sure to lock the vehicle‘s doors and trunk
- Keep keys and remotes away from children
- Place things you will need when you stop in the back seat so you NEVER accidentally forget a child is in the back seat
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has these suggestions to prevent heat stroke:
- make sure children drink plenty of water
- make sure children drink water and not sugary drinks that cause the body to lose more body fluid
- avoid cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps
- keep children indoors in air-conditioning during times of extreme heat
- if there is no air conditioning, go to a public place like a mall or public library
- go to a heat-relief shelter in your area, contact the local health department for location
- if outdoors, go before noon or in the evening when it’s cooler
- make sure children drink more fluids if they are very active outdoors
- have them drink sports beverages to help replace the salt and minerals lost in sweating
- rest in shady areas
- protect children with hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher
- have children wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing
Signs of two heat-related illnesses: heat exhaustion and heat stroke (CDC):
- heavy sweating
- muscle cramps
- tiredness or weakness
- dizziness or headache
- sick stomach or vomiting
- body temperature of 103 Degrees F or higher
- red, hot, and dry skin
- confusion or unconsciousness
The CDC recommends these treatments for heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
- move to a shady area
- drink water
- take a cool sponge bath until body temperature reaches 101 degrees F
- change to light weight clothing
- move to an air conditioned place
- get medical help if the symptoms get worse or last more than one hour