Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Stay Safe in the Heat

With summer jumping right in to gear this year with hot, hot, hot temperatures, being alert to how damaging the heat and sun can be should be a priority, and if you have little children, even more so. Not only are they at risk from sunburn, but parents and caregivers need to be extremely diligent about never leaving a child in an area that could potentially become overheated, especially vehicles. In addition, do not rely on cracking a window to keep the air moving. For one thing, a child should never be left unattended, period. The risks there alone are too great! Moreover, a cracked window is not even close to being sufficient air.

Besides these obvious risks, the summer sun and heat can make other everyday objects hazardous to small children. If your toddler is walking, be sure to put shoes on him or her, as pavement can be hot enough to burn their small soles. Playground equipment can become hot enough to burn skin. Be sure to check any surfaces before allowing children to play. Car seat buckles, even the seats themselves, depending on the covering, can get hot enough to burn an infant's or small child's skin. Common, everyday objects can become potential sources of burns under the hot summer sun, so be cautious with what your children touch or sit on.

Make sure to keep your little ones hydrated also. Always carry water and juices with you, even if you think you will be able to purchase something where you are heading. Vehicles break down, traffic happens, and before you know it, both your kids and you can become dehydrated.

I am always astonished by the reports each year of children being injured or even dying from being left in a vehicle. Even on a day when the outside air temperatures are not very hot, the temperatures inside of vehicles can rise to an unsafe hotness. Yet every year, a parent, or caregiver imagines that just a minute to run back to answer a phone, or run into the store for just a moment is ok, that the vehicle will not get that hot. Never, ever risk it, and you will not have to find out through terrible circumstances just how hot it can be.

Imagine a mother who leaves a newborn sleeping peacefully in his or her car seat. With the vehicle doors wide open for air movement, and while she just sits a bit away while she chats with another adult at a park, everything appears safe. Imagine her horror when a few minutes later she realizes her friend's elementary age child has closed the doors on her car. In those few short minutes, the temperature has skyrocketed inside that vehicle and her infant who was sleeping peacefully is no longer breathing.

Do not let that terror be something that you experience. Never leave an infant or child unattended. Do not run back to answer the ringing phone, and do not run in somewhere just for a minute assuming that as long as your little ones are strapped in to their car seats they are safe. Children are unpredictable as are the circumstances that can change around them. Keep them safe.

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