Too Hot to Handle?

August 21, 2012

All winter, as we whine about the cold, snow pants and keeping kids from frostbite, we dream of the lazy, hazy summer days!!! Bathing suits, t-shirts and a bit of suntan cream--a piece of cake.

Not this year! Last month we experienced the hottest month we’ve had on record over the past 118 years!

And there is little relief in sight! Those of us with the primary care of children have got a whole new set of rules and habits to consider when the humidex reaches 100 degrees. The bottom line is that is is just plain dangerous for these youngsters.

Every year, hundreds of children are affected adversely by the heat. 50 children are killed by being left in the car on a hot day. An additional 700 children die through drowning. We can not even estimate as to the number of children who become ill each year due to heat stroke, severe sunburns, dehydration and other extreme heat illnesses.

So, as our weather becomes more and more extreme, it is imperative that we are thoughtful about the danger and take the appropriate precautions to make sure children are safe.

Here are a few common sense reminders.

  1. Dress children appropriately. Check the temperature (including humidex) everyday and dress them accordingly. Keep in mind that cotton, linen and bamboo fabrics are the best choice for staying cool, for comfort and for moisture absorption. Hats are a MUST!

  2. Make sure that children drink plenty of water. Children dehydrate much more quickly than adults. Avoid liquids with caffeine or with too much sugar.

  3. Pools are a great way to cool down, but children, even those who swim well, need constant and careful supervision. It only takes about an inch of water to drown a baby. Anyone can drown by one big gulp of water.

  4. Some extreme heat days should be indoor days or quiet ‘under the tree’ days for children. Air conditioning is a bonus.

  5. NEVER EVER leave your child in a car even for 5 minutes! if it is too bothersome to take them with you, don’t go! Your car can heat up to 125 degrees in minutes with an external temperature of only 80 degrees.

As our weather becomes more extreme, new precautions become the norm, but something else changes too, my appreciation of a bright crisp winter day where my biggest childcare concerns are mitts and hats.