Keeping Your Child Safe in Extreme Heat
When it comes to extreme summer heat, our children can be the most vulnerable to heat-related illness and even death.
The National Weather Service has identified a heat index of 90 degrees or higher as a significant health risk, and since a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult, it can mean drastic outcomes for the child if left in extreme heat for too long.
At ARC we are passionate about creating a culture of safety - 24/7. That doesn't just extend to working hours or job sites. That is everywhere we go and everything we do. That includes protecting our most vulnerable - our children - against heat-related illness, accidents, and even death.
Let’s explore some of the potential dangers of summer weather for our children and how to protect them.
Dangers of Extreme Heat for Children
Children left in extreme heat conditions for too long can quickly become sick. They can suffer from dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and even heat stroke. These are all medical emergencies that can have severe outcomes for the child if emergency treatment is not administered within a timely fashion.
Many children have lost their lives due to being left in extremely hot cars for too long. Heat stroke is the number one cause of vehicle-related deaths in children younger than 15 years old. Cars heat up very quickly when sitting in the heat. A car’s temperature can rise a full 20 degrees in 10 minutes. Because a child’s body heats up at a higher rate than adults, they run the risk of suffering from a heat stroke sooner. Their organs start to shut down when the temperature reaches 104 degrees.
Keeping Kids Safe in the Heat
We may not always be able to control the heat, but there are some things we can do to protect our kids from the danger of extreme heat. Understandably, you want your child to be as active as possible and outside often offers the ideal way to keep them active. Consider some of these safety tips when it comes to not only keeping your child active but also safe in extreme heat conditions:
When temperatures are sweltering outside, if a pool is an option, that’s the best option. Take your child to a pool or to the beach where they can easily cool down in spite of the heat.
If it’s extremely hot outside, it may be best to keep your child indoors. Find activities that can easily be done indoors (board games, crafts, reading, dance or exercise, etc.). Any of these activities can provide several benefits to children, including mental stimulation.
Being indoors doesn't always equate to being safe from the heat. Not all homes have appropriate AC units to beat the heat of summer. If that is the case, consider getting out of the house to other buildings that do have the appropriate air, like malls, gyms and libraries.
If leaving non-air-conditioned units is not an option, do everything you can to keep the place as cool as possible. Use standing fans (safely) if possible. Close all windows and blinds to keep the heat out as much as possible.
Never leave your child in a car for long periods of time when it’s hot. And never leave them unattended in the car.
Sometimes it is necessary to be outside in the heat (and not necessarily at the beach or pool) during extreme heat. If you’re going to be outside with your children, here are some things to remember:
Drink Plenty of Water
Make sure your child stays hydrated by drinking as much water as possible. Take plenty of water with you or acquire it along the way. It can be less costly to refill water bottles than to plan to consistently purchase water. Although it’s extremely hot and replenishing with water is essential, babies on formula or breast milk should continue to digest that, and not be given water.
This means to not only dress in fewer clothes as appropriately as possible but to dress in light colors as well. Dress your child in light-colored, lightweight, clothing that is limited to only one layer. It’s also helpful if the material of clothing easily absorbs sweat.
Allow for Time To Rest
Extreme heat can be draining. It’s always a good thing to plan for them to wind down from all the running around so their bodies can rest from the heat. If shade is available, that would be an ideal area to pull them to keep the sun from bearing down on them.
Safety is 24/7 when it comes to our children. While summer is a laid-back, fun season, remember to be vigilant about your child’s safety in extreme heat - 24/7.