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Look Before You Lock and Other Safety Tips on Heatstroke Prevention Day
07.31.2013 [SMH Extra]

motherchildcarToday is National Heatstroke Prevention Day.

Did you know a child dies from heatstroke about once every 10 days from being left alone in a hot vehicle? In fact, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash vehicle fatalities for kids 14 and younger. Children climb into unlocked cars to play, or are left alone in the car. 10 minutes is all the time it takes for a car to reach deadly temperatures with a child locked inside.

These are tragedies that are 100 percent preventable. While those in cooler climates generally only have to worry about heatstroke over the summer, those of us who live in Florida should be aware of it a good part of the year.

If you see a child alone in a hot vehicle, call 911 immediately. If the child is in distress due to heat, get that child out as quickly as possible. Cool the child rapidly by spraying him with cool water or with water from a garden hose (an ice bath isn’t necessary nor desirable). More information is available here.

Adults over 65, people who have difficulty moving and those with certain chronic health conditions also are vulnerable to heat stroke. Certain medications also place you at greater risk – including those that narrow your blood vessels, beta blockers, diuretics and antidepressants or antipsychotics. People who physically exert themselves in extreme heat also are at risk.

Heat stroke symptoms may include:

  • high body temperature,
  • the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin,
  • rapid pulse,
  • difficulty breathing,
  • strange behavior,
  • hallucinations,
  • confusion,
  • agitation,
  • disorientation,
  • seizure
  • and/or coma.

And don’t forget that animals can be vulnerable to heat stroke, too! So in the “dog days” of summer, take precautions to keep you and your loved ones safe in the heat. Look before you lock your car – never leave kids, pets or anyone else in a parked vehicle. Check in on elderly family and neighbors to make sure they are OK. Be aware if you’re at increased risk due to medications or health issues. Don’t let the heat beat you!



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