Heat Safety: How to Handle the Brutal Summer Weather
August 10, 2012
by Katie Murray
This summer’s record high temperatures are responsible for a number of deaths across the country. State officials are urging people, especially kids and the elderly, to stay hydrated, seek air conditioned venues, and to limit exercise to the early hours of the morning.
Hyperthermia, the state at which your body can no longer regulate its temperature, is a serious, but also preventable condition.
Of course this doesn’t mean you should keep your little ones cooped up inside all day. Just be vigilant. “It's important that parents are aware that children’s bodies heat up three to five times faster. Kids are particularly vulnerable,” Dr. Leticia Ryan of Children’s National Medical Center told Parenting.
“You can still enjoy the outdoors, but it is important to limit exposure to high temperatures, take plenty of breaks, and ensure constant access to fluids.”
One of the biggest risks? Leaving a child to overheat in a locked car. Most parents think it won’t happen to their kids, but these deaths can occur in under 15 minutes, and are becoming more common. A five-month-old boy from Tennessee was the eighth child to die from heatstroke in a vehicle in the first week of August alone, bringing this year’s total deaths to 23.
“In many hot car death cases there has been a change in routine. Parents forget the child is with them, or in other cases the child has been intentionally left in the car,” said Ryan.
“Almost everyone has messed up in their daily routine. Missing an exit, forgetting your keys, and these things can be hard to explain. Your average parent is sleep deprived, has multiple responsibilities, and it is possible to have a disruption in the routine that could cause this seemingly impossible situation to occur.”
Cracked windows do not decrease the level of heat in the car, where temperature levels are typically 20 degrees higher than the outside air.
Safe Kids Worldwide offers three crucial tips to beating the heat with the simple mnemonic ACT:
- Avoid heat stroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in the car, even for a minute. Also, lock unattended vehicle doors and trunks so kids can’t get in.
- Create reminders and habits that give you and your child’s caregiver a safety net. Establish a peace-of-mind plan: When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers, so all of you know where your child is at all times. Place a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cell phone or an item that is needed at your next stop in a back seat, where the child is sitting. Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer calendar as a reminder to drop your child off at childcare.
- Take action if you see an unattended child in a vehicle. Dial 911 immediately and follow the instructions that emergency personnel provide – they are trained to determine if a child is in danger.
What are your tips for keeping children safe from summer heat? Leave a comment.