With temperatures expected to surge above 100 degrees this weekend, the dangers for children of suffering from heat-related health problems, including death, are also increasing.
According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 53% of hot car deaths occur because someone forgets to remove a child from a car.
Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center director of health and chair of the family and community medicine department, Dr Ron Cook, said children left in cars can die of heat stroke within minutes.
“Children can suffer from signs of heat stroke that would require immediate medical attention,” Cook said in a statement from the TTUHSC. “They would go into shock first, have convulsions, suffer from weakness, dizziness, nausea and headaches quickly.”
The National Weather Service’s seasonal summer safety campaign began on June 1 and with summer temperatures rising, the NWS is reminding everyone of the dangers of heat.
Temperatures in the southern plains are expected to be near 100 or more at least until Saturday and stay in the 90s until next week.
The 10-year national average in terms of heat-related deaths per year is 103. This is higher than deaths in any other meteorological category, including lightning, tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.
Heat is one of the main weather killers in the United States. Heat can be very taxing on the body, as heat-related illnesses occur during short periods of exposure.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), on a 70-degree day, the interior of a parked car can reach deadly temperatures in less than 30 minutes. Cook said the health consequences on a day when temperatures rise above 100 degrees can intensify even faster and a young child can suffer from heat stroke or die. On a 100 degree day, the interior of a car can reach over 130 degrees.
Anyone can be vulnerable to heat, but some more than others. According to “The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment,” the following groups are particularly vulnerable to heat:
• Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illness and death because their bodies are less able to adapt to heat than adults.
• Seniors, especially those with pre-existing illnesses, take certain medications, live alone or have limited mobility, and who are exposed to extreme heat can experience multiple side effects.
• People with chronic illnesses are more likely to have a serious health problem during a heat wave than healthy people.
• Pregnant women are also at greater risk. Extreme heat episodes have been associated with adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight, premature births and infant mortality, as well as congenital cataracts.
Since 1998, nearly 900 children have died of heat stroke because they were left or trapped in a hot car, according to the National Road Safety Commission.
In addition to vehicle safety against extreme heat, if you must be outdoors during extreme temperatures, consider the following UV safety guidelines from the NWS:
• Do not burn or tan: avoid intentional tanning. It can contribute to skin cancer and premature aging of the skin
• Look for shade: take shelter when the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm
• Wear protective clothing: wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and a wide-brimmed hat and UV-resistant sunglasses.
• Apply sunscreen liberally: Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more to protect yourself from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which contribute to premature aging. sunburn and skin cancer. Always follow label directions and apply sunscreen liberally. Apply 15 minutes before going out and reapply every two hours, or after swimming, sweating or drying yourself. Choose sunscreens that are free from chemicals that are harmful to marine life.
• Be extra careful around water and sand: these surfaces reflect the sun’s harmful rays, which can increase your risk of sunburn.
• Check the UV index daily: the higher the UV index, the more protection you need from the sun. When planning outdoor activities, follow the EPA’s safety recommendations