As temperatures are expected to remain at record levels over the next few days, the Indiana Department of Child Services cautions parents about the dangers extreme heat can pose for infants, young children and older youth.
“Infants and children must rely on others to help regulate their environment for them and provide adequate liquids and relief from the dangerous heat conditions,” said DCS Director James Payne. “But the good news is parents can prevent heat illness.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that hundreds of people each year die from excessive heat exposure and that infants, children and the elderly are the most vulnerable.
“Extreme heat like this is a potentially dangerous situation and we see complications from it every year,” said Dr. Robert Collins, medical director, Emergency Services at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health. “Heat-related illnesses can range from heat exhaustion to heat stroke. Children are no different than adults in that if their bodies aren’t cooled, they risk seizures or losing consciousness.”
The CDC says air-conditioning is the number-one protective measure against heat-related illness. Shopping malls and other public facilities can be good places to spend time on high-heat days for families without air conditioning. The CDC also recommends parents take these preventative steps for avoiding heat-related illness in children:
• Provide plenty of fluids, preferably water, throughout the day.
• Limit outdoor exposure, particularly during midday and in areas with concrete or asphalt surfaces.
• Remain in shaded areas when outdoors.
• Dress infants and children in cool, loose clothing, use sunscreen, and shade their heads and faces with hats and umbrellas.
• Never leave children in a parked car even for a few minutes.
• Even with the windows slightly cracked, temperatures inside the car can rise by almost 20 degrees within as little as 10 minutes, says the CDC.
• Watch for warning signs of heat illness
“We want families to have fun this summer and enjoy quality time together,” Payne said. “But we really want them to be safe, and watch out for the smallest in the family to the older youth who tend to participate in sports this time of year.”
Parents should watch for the following signs of possible heat stroke or exhaustion:
• Body temperature above 103 degrees.
• Red, hot, dry skin with no sweating.
• Rapid, strong pulse.
• Complaints about headache.
• Dizziness or confusion.
• Nausea, vomiting.
“If you notice the heat affecting your kids, move them into a cool environment, remove some of their clothing and have them drink fluids. If they are showing signs of heat stroke or exhaustion though, you should go to the emergency room,” Collins said.
SOURCE: Indiana Department of Child Services