As temperatures soar this summer, remember the dangers from excessive heat. Even a short amount of time exposed to extreme heat and sun can lead to heat-related illness, with the very young and the elderly most vulnerable, and can result in a trip to the ER or even cause death if not properly treated.
Experts recommend keeping outdoor activities at a minimum during these times. It's also critically important to make sure children and pets are kept cool during this time of year.
Over the last two decades, 744 children have died in the United States from being left unattended in hot cars. Leaving a child alone in a car can quickly lead to heat stroke and death.
- Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.
- Keep your car locked when you are not in it.
- Create reminders by putting something in the back seat next to your child, such as a briefcase, purse, cell phone or your left shoe.
- If you see a child alone in a car, call 911.
- Set a calendar reminder on your electronic device to make sure you dropped your child off at daycare; develop a plan so you will be alerted if your child is late or a no-show.
With temperatures and heat indices climbing, vehicles can easily become the worst place for people or pets to be on a hot summer day. In only 10 minutes, a vehicle can heat up 20 degrees and can reach 110 degrees when temperatures are only in the 60s. Heat stroke can happen when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees.
Some other important facts to remember:
- Cracking the windows or not parking in direct sunlight does not make a car significantly cooler.
- The body temperatures of children can increase three to five times faster than adults. Heat stroke begins when the body’s temperature passes 104 degrees.
- More than 70 percent of heat stroke deaths occur in children younger than age 2. More than half of those occur because a caregiver forgot the child in the car.
- Roughly 30 percent of heat stroke deaths occur because the child got in a car without a caregiver knowing and couldn’t get out.
- Nearly 20 percent of deaths occur because a caregiver intentionally left the child in the car.
With this in mind, it is vitally important that you look before you lock and make sure that no children are lost to heat stroke this summer.
Other steps for staying safe in the heat include:
- Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun's energy. It is also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella.
- Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
- Eat small meals and eat more often.
- Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
- Stay indoors when possible.
- Take regular breaks when engaged in physical activity on warm days. Take time out to find a cool place.
- Learn the signs of heat-related illness, and what you should do.
Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale and clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting and fainting. If you suspect you have heat exhaustion. Move to a cooler location, lie down and loosen your clothing, sip water, and apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible. If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.
Signs of heat stroke include high body temperature (above 103°F); hot, red, dry or moist skin; rapid and strong pulse and possible unconsciousness. If you suspect you or someone else has heat stroke, call 911 immediately. This is a medical emergency. Move the person to a cooler environment and use cool cloths or a bath to reduce the person's body temperature. Do not give fluids.