NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Keeping Kids Safe during Summer Heat

Keeping Kids Safe during Summer Heat



          With temperatures soaring into the upper 80’s and 90’s across the state, summer has finally arrived in full force.  While we often think of adults working outdoors in the heat as being affected most by the high temperatures, kids can actually be affected first.  .

          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.  In high humidity and with other some conditions such as age, fever, sunburn or dehydration, sweating just isn't enough.  In such cases, a person's body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs.

          Heat stroke occurs when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. The body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:

-         An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F, orally)

-         Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)

-         Rapid, strong pulse

-         Throbbing headache

-         Dizziness

-         Nausea

-         Confusion

-         Unconsciousness

          If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim.

          Following are a few simple tips to help keep kids safe and cool during this unusually warm weather.


• Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur rapidly in enclosed vehicles. Never leave your child unattended in a car. Children’s thermoregulatory systems warm three to five times faster than an adult’s.

• Always check to make sure all children leave the vehicle when you reach your destination. Don’t overlook sleeping infants.  (TIP: Keep your child’s toy or diaper bag in the front passenger seat to help remind you the child is on board).

• On a 93-degree day, the inside of a car can exceed 125° degrees Fahrenheit in as little as 20 minutes. The temperature inside of a car is hotter than outside temperatures, and can climb rapidly.

• Heat stroke can occur in a matter of minutes for young children and infants.  Keep children sufficiently hydrated and cool during the day.

• An open or screened window in homes can be a danger to children.  Falls from upper story windows related to the heat have been responsible for fatal child injuries in our state.  (TIP: Keeping furniture away from windows, opening windows from the top down if possible, and installing child-safety window guards all help to prevent injury).

 • During hot weather everyone needs to increase their fluid intake, regardless of their activity level. Don't wait until your child tells you they are thirsty to offer liquids.  During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour.

• Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing for your child’s summer wear.  When outdoors, protect children from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps them cooler) along with sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels) 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.

          Infants and young children are sensitive to the effects of high temperatures and rely on others to regulate their environments and provide adequate liquids.

          It is so true that kids do not know or are not aware of their surroundings. They cannot tell you when they are reaching that point of heat stroke/sunburn/dehydration until it’s too late.  Keeping eye on the kids will make summer more enjoyable for you and them.


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