Triple-digit temperatures are here to stay. And because heat is the No. 1 weather-related cause of death in Arizona and in the country, it’s important to take precautions.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, more than 1,500 deaths from exposure to excessive natural heat occurred in Arizona from 2000 to 2012. Kids — especially babies and toddlers —are even more vulnerable, because they’re not able to sweat and cool down as quickly as adults.
It’s important to stay hydrated and out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day and during excessive-heat warnings. Here are five ways to keep kids and adults safe this summer, according to Phoenix Children’s Hospital and ADHS:
1. NEVER leave a child unattended inside a vehicle. In our triple-digit heat, temperatures inside a parked car can turn deadly for children and pets within minutes.
“People forget how quickly the heat rises in a car,” says Dr. Sara Bode, pediatrician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. “If you’re sitting in a car that’s 140 degrees, you could get seriously injured and have damage in 10 minutes.”
2. Metal parts on children’s car seats — including harnesses and buckles — can burn children in excessive heat. Make sure the metal parts are covered if the car is left in the sun and test the temperature before putting a child in his or her seat.
3. Limit time outdoors, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you must go outside, dress children in lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes.
4. Stay hydrated. Phoenix Children’s Hospital recommends kids drink 16 ounces of water every 4-6 hours. Sports drinks with vitamins and minerals can also help. Always take water with you when leaving the house.
Dr. Bode says it’s important during any outdoor activities — even swimming — that kids take frequent breaks to get rehydrated. “Kids have time off. They want to go out to play, but break it up into short periods,” she says.
5. Watch for signs of heat exhaustion: dizziness, headaches, vomiting, muscle aches and paleness. Dr. Bode says if your child is overheated, cool him or her down with cool towels or a cool bath and frequent sips of a sports drink. If a child exhibits signs of confusion, is refusing to drink anything, is having any trouble breathing or if his or her temperature is going up rather than down, it’s time to seek medical attention.