Stories about: heat exposure

Athletes at risk: Knowing the dangers of heat stroke

exertional heat stroke athletes

For many young athletes, fall sports practices have already started. Whether it’s football two-a-days, soccer practices on a sweltering turf field, or cross country training in the late summer sun, the threat of heat exhaustion and heat stroke is prevalent across all sports.

It’s an important time for athletes and parents to be aware of the signs of heat illnesses, especially given that children and adolescents are more susceptible to heat stroke than adults. Younger athletes produce more heat during activity, sweat less, and adjust less rapidly to changes in environmental heat.

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Four steps to help kids avoid heat stroke in cars

Car-seat_emptyA total of eighteen children have died this year from heat stroke after being left alone in a car.

Unfortunately, this is not an alarming new trend. Since 1998, at least 600 children across the United States have died when they were left unattended in a vehicle. A majority of these children were left accidently in the backseat by a distracted parent or caregiver, only to discover the child hours later, after it was too late. Other times the child found her way into a parked car and couldn’t get out on her own. As many as 18 percent of these deaths occurred after a parent knowingly left a child in a car.

But this isn’t an issue only in the Deep South, Arizona desert or other extreme heat areas— heat stroke deaths have been recorded in almost all 50 states throughout the entire year. Vehicles heat up quickly—as much as 19 degrees in 10 minutes—so a car can go from uncomfortable to dangerous in minutes, especially for young children whose body heat can spike up to 5 times faster than adults. Once their internal temperature hits 104 degrees, the major organs begin to shut down; when it reaches 107 degrees, the child could die. Reports show children have died in cars on days where the temperature was in the 70s.

Every one of these deaths is as tragic as it was preventable. To make sure it never happens to your child:

  • Always lock car doors when parking to prevent a child from climbing in on her own.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a car, even if you only plan on being gone for a few minutes. Not only is it dangerous, it’s actually illegal in some states, as this mother found out and reported on in a griping article.
  • Get in the habit of placing an important item, like a cell phone, briefcase, wallet or purse, next to the child when buckling her in to her car seat. Soon you’ll start instinctively reaching in the back seat and putting the car seat in your direct line of sight before leaving the car, which can eliminate accidental leavings.
  • Let babysitters, grandparents and other adults who may watch your child know that it is never OK to leave the child alone in a car.
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Playing it safe in the heat

How hot is the metal at your child's favorite playground?

Slides, seesaws and jungle gyms remind us of carefree childhood days, but as we get older, the allure of playgrounds becomes much less simple. These outdoor havens are great ways to encourage physical activity in kids, but strong summer heat can also cause them to become danger zones. Here, Lois Lee, MD, MPH, director of trauma research at Children’s Hospital Boston, breaks down summer playground safety and suggests ways to keep your outing safe.

Recent reports of children who have burned their hands and feet on hot playground gear underscore the need for shady spots in playgrounds. “Ideally, it would be great for kids to have access to shaded playgrounds to keep cool and out of the sun, but it’s not always realistic,” says Lee. She recommends making sure kids have sunscreen on their faces and bodies, dressing them in lightweight, protective clothing and keeping them out of direct sunlight between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm, when the sun is most intense.

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