Baby, it’s HOT outside – Heatstroke Prevention

Heatstroke - ChildrenHeatstroke prevention tips brought to you by Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, Virginia’s only Level I Pediatric Trauma Center.

We’ve all been feeling the heat this summer as temperatures have hit record highs, but did you know heat affects children more than adults? A heatstroke occurs when the body becomes so heated that it can no longer cool itself quickly enough to avoid dangerous internal temperatures. Children have a heightened risk of heatstroke, especially when left alone in a car.  Since 1998, more than 670 children in the United States have died from a heatstroke when left unattended in a vehicle. That’s a scary statistic – but many of those deaths could have been avoided through education and prevention. Leaving a child alone in a car, even with a window cracked, exposes them to the risk of having a heatstroke.

Follow these safety tips to help prevent heatstroke in children:

  • Never leave a child alone in the car, even for a minute. Make sure to lock your car to prevent children from crawling in and becoming trapped.
  • To prevent forgetting your child in the car amongst the hustle and bustle of daily life, put something you may need like your cell phone or purse in the backseat of your vehicle.  This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
  • Always lock your vehicle and put your keys out of reach of children. Children are naturally curious and leaving temptation within their reach could be hazardous.
  • Teach your children not to play in a vehicle in order to avoid entrapment. Once inside a car a child may not have the skills to open up the doors or they may be in a car with child safety locks and are unable to open the doors.
  • If you see a child left alone in the car, call 911 – you might just save a life.

Be on the lookout for warnings signs of heatstroke this summer:

  • Red, hot, and moist or dry skin
  • No sweating
  • A strong, rapid pulse or a slow, weak pulse
  • Nausea
  • Confusion or strange behavior

Seek immediate medical care if a child displays these or other warning signs of heatstroke.

Eye-opening heatstroke facts:

  • Children overheat up to five times faster than adults
  • In 10 minutes, a car’s temperature can rise over 20 degrees.
  • Even at an outside temperature of 60 degrees, a car’s inside temperature can reach 110 degrees.
  • A child dies when their body temperature reaches 107 degrees.
  • Heatstroke happens even on cloudy days and in outside temperatures below 70 degrees.

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