Advancing Children's Health

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National Heatstroke Prevention Day

Published by , on Jul 31, 2013

heat strokeWe’ve all been feeling the heat this summer as temperatures have hit record highs, but did you know heat affects children more than adults. With the recent news stories of children suffering from heatstroke after being left in a car, it is important to remember how heat can affect our children and what steps we should take to ensure their safety in the summer months.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 550 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, which is why today we celebrate National Heatstroke Prevention Day.Cars heat up quickly in the summertime. In fact, the temperature in a car can raise 19 degrees in just 10 minutes. Leaving a child alone in a car, even with a window cracked, exposes them to the risk of having a heatstroke.“It’s important for parents to recognize and remember that children handle heat differently than adults, so they need to be treated differently in high temperatures,” said Corri Miller-Hobbs, BS, RN, program coordinator for Safe Kids Virginia at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. “The body heat of a child can go up three to five time faster than that of an adult, so they can’t tolerate as much heat or as long of a duration of heat exposure as we can.”To prevent heatstroke in children, follow these tips:

  • Never leave your child alone in the car and 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, computer or purse in the backseat of your vehicle.
  • If you see a child left alone in the car, call 911 – you might just save a life.

Symptoms of a heatstroke include dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, hot and dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, loss of consciousness, rapid heartbeat or hallucinations. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms after being exposed to heat for an extended period of time, call 911.

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