How to Keep Your Children Safe from Heatstroke

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This week, a 2-year-old child died after being left in a locked van outside his daycare in Oakland Park, FL. He wasn’t discovered until 2 p.m., after apparently being picked up from home earlier that morning.

This heartbreaking tragedy could, and should, have been avoided. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. According to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting children in and around vehicles, so far this year, 25 children [https://www.kidsandcars.org/2019-child-hot-car-deaths/] have died after being left in hot cars. Their ages ranged from 4 years to an infant.

Heatstroke is extremely dangerous, especially in children, but it’s also extremely preventable. As temperatures continue to climb all over the country, it’s important that we all learn to identify the risk factors and early signs of heatstroke.

Risks

Exposure to hot and/or humid weather- While prolonged exposure to heat is more likely to result in heatstroke, it can happen in less time that you would think. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a car can reach lethal temperatures [https://www.aappublications.org/content/36/8/33.4] in less than 30 minutes.

Intense physical activity in hot weather- This type of heatstroke, often referred to as exertional heatstroke, is most common in people not accustomed to high temperatures. But anyone working or exercising outdoors is at risk.

Signs

  • A body temperature of 104 F (40 C) or higher is the main indicator of heatstroke.
  • A lack of sweating, despite the heat. This is also an indication of dehydration, a common culprit of heatstroke.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Flushed, hot, and dry skin.
  • An increased heart rate and rapid, shallow breaths.
  • Throbbing headache, slurred speech, confusion, and seizures.

Treatment

Heat stroke is a medical emergency. If someone appears to be suffering from heat stroke, you should call 911 or get them to a hospital immediately.

While waiting for help to arrive, you should move the person to a cool environment, either an air-conditioned location or a shaded area, and remove any unnecessary clothing.

Apply ice packs to the neck, armpits, back and groin.

If possible, immerse the person in a tub or pool of cool water.