Tips to Avoid Heat Illness and Injuries
07-23-2010 (Dayton, OH) -
Each year more people in the United States die from extreme heat exposure than from hurricanes, lightening, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined.
People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly.
“Children are particularly susceptible to heat-related illness because their bodies are still developing the ability to regulate temperature,” says Lisa Schwing, RN, trauma program manager at Dayton Children’s.
Heat exhaustion is a more severe heat illness that can occur when someone in a hot climate or environment hasn't been drinking enough fluids.
Symptoms may include:
- clammy skin
- nausea and/or vomiting
- hyperventilation (rapid breathing)
What to Do:
- Bring your child indoors or into the shade.
- Loosen or remove your child's clothing.
- Encourage your child to eat and drink.
- Give your child a bath in cool (not cold) water.
- Call your doctor for further advice. If your child is too exhausted or ill to eat or drink, intravenous (IV) fluids may be necessary.
If left untreated, heat exhaustion may escalate into heatstroke, which can be fatal.
The most severe form of heat illness, heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency. The body loses its ability to regulate its own temperature. Body temperature can soar to 106º F (41.1º C) or even higher, leading to brain damage or even death if it isn't quickly treated. Prompt medical treatment is required to bring the body temperature under control.
Factors that increase the risk for heatstroke include overdressing and extreme physical exertion in hot weather with inadequate fluid intake.
What to Do:
Call for emergency medical help if your child has been outside in the sun exercising for a long time and shows one or more of these symptoms of heatstroke.
- flushed, hot, dry skin with no sweating
- temperature of 105º F (40.6º C) or higher
- severe, throbbing headache
- weakness, dizziness, or confusion
- sluggishness or fatigue
- decreased responsiveness
- loss of consciousness
While waiting for help:
- Get your child indoors or into the shade.
- Undress your child and sponge or douse him or her with cool water.
- Do not give fluids.
- To help protect kids from heat illness:
- Teach kids to always drink plenty of fluids before and during an activity in hot, sunny weather — even if they're not thirsty.
- Make sure kids wear light-colored, loose clothing.
- Make sure your kids only participate in heavy activity outdoors before noon and after 6 PM.
- Teach kids to come indoors immediately whenever they feel overheated.
One of the deadliest places in the heat is a vehicle. So far in 2010, over 20 children have died after being left alone in hot cars.
Experts at Dayton Children’s remind parents and caregivers that these incidents can occur on days with relatively mild temperatures.
“Even with a window slightly open, on a typically sunny summer day, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach potentially deadly levels within minutes,” says Lisa Schwing, RN, trauma program manager at Dayton Children's. “When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s core body temperature may increase three to five times as fast an adult. This could cause permanent injury or even death.”
On days when temperatures exceed 86°F, the internal temperatures of a vehicle quickly reach 134°F to 154°F, quickly raising body temperature to dangerous levels.
Seven tips to keep your children safe:
- Call 911 if they see a child unattended in a vehicle.
- Never leave children alone in a vehicle - even for a minute.
- Set your cell phone or Blackberry reminder to be sure you drop your child off at daycare.
- Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car on the floor in front of the child in a back seat. This forces the adult to open the back door and observe the child before leaving.
- Set your computer Microsoft Outlook e-mail program to ask you, “Did you drop off your child at daycare today?”
- Have a plan with your child care provider to call if your child does not arrive when expected.
- Check cars and trunks first if a child goes missing.
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