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Kids need special attention in the heat

By By Michelle Blaylock, Mom’s Corner
Dear Mrs. Blaylock,
I enjoy reading your “Mom’s Corner” every week, especially now that my little one has had her first birthday!
I read a lot of baby and mom blogs, and ran across this article on www.thingamababy.com, which has lots of good advice. Here is a link to the specific article: http://www.thingamababy.com/baby/2007/07/babysafety.html
I thought perhaps you may want to mention something about babies and heat-related deaths. Not a fun subject, I know, but with the weather heating up, well, I ran across this on the blog and thought of your column.
My mother-in-law lives in Atlanta and had a friend whose daughter was a single mother and whose baby attended daycare. The baby had been sick for a week, so the grandmother babysat, while the mom went to work. The next Monday, the mom went to work, but she was still tired from dealing with a sick baby.
Since grandmother had taken care of the child the week before, mom went straight to work and didn’t drop the baby off at daycare. The little one died in her car seat, and the mother is being tried for murder.
Like I said, I know it’s not a fun subject, but with cellphones, rear-facing car seats, and our hurried lifestyles- it’s something that happens, and it is so sad and needless.
Anyway, this is just a suggestion for an article. I thank you for the humor and good news I get when I read your column, and thank you for reading my email! Have a great summer!
D. B. N.
Dear D. B. N.
Thank you for your e-mail. Situations like the one you describe are just absolutely heartbreaking. I can’t imagine that mother’s pain. I agree this is an important reminder for parents. Children and pets should never ever be left in a parked vehicle during the summer. (Children should never be left at anytime!) According to a report in Pediatrics, the official magazine for the American Academy of Pediatrics, that even on days the temperature is as low as 76 degrees within 20 minutes the interior temperature of a parked car can reach dangerous levels. I checked out the blog you suggested. The writer describes a device that has a two parts a receiver and a transmitter. One piece attaches to the carseat and is activated when a child is put into the carseat. The other piece attaches to the parents keychain. If the two pieces are separated by more than a few feet, an alarm is triggered to remind the parent of the presence of a child.
Obviously, it is extremely dangerous for a child to be left or trapped in a car especially during the summer. However, even normal everyday play or exercise can become dangerous due to the heat. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, young children are more susceptible to heat related illnesses and injuries because their bodies are not able to regulate their internal temperatures as well as adults. The three main illnesses related to heat are heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
Heat cramps are painful muscle cramps, mild fever (102 F), and flushed moist skin. This is a warning that your child’s body isn’t happy with the heat. (Actually, anyone can have these heat related illnesses!) It’s time to cool off, drink water or a sports drink, and rest.
As with most illnesses, when the warning signs of heat cramps are not heeded the illness continues to worsen. Heat exhaustion is characterized by the symptoms of heat cramps plus a rise in temperature, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, weakness, anxiety, and faint feeling. If your child is experiencing the symptoms of heat exhaustion it is seriously time for him or her to cool off including using cool cloths, and drinking fluids. If improvement isn’t seen very quickly, it’s time to call a doctor because the next stage, heat stroke, can be life threatening.
The symptoms of a heat stroke include warm, dry skin, high fever, usually over 104 degree F, rapid heart rate, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, confusion, agitation, lethargy, stupor, seizures, coma, and death are possible. This is 911 time.
Until help arrives, it’s important to cool off even to the point of drenching the person in cool (not cold) water and, if the person is conscious and capable, drink fluids. Never give an unconscious person fluids.
While these illnesses are associated with the heat, it is actually the dehydration that is truly dangerous according to an article written by Dr. Shook of Texas Children’s Hospital.
It’s important to remind children to drink plenty of fluids. By the time a child is thirsty, he or she is already beginning to be dehydrated. All of the sources I checked recommend not giving children any type of drink with caffeine or high sugar because those ingredients will cause them to loose more fluid. However, it is important to replace what is being lost by the body when it perspires. Therefore, it is recommend to include sports drinks (like Gatorade) along with water. Dr. Shook also recommends having children take frequent breaks if they are playing or exercising during the heat of the day. It is also important to dress children in loose fitting light colored clothing, preferably cotton. It will allow the perspiration to evaporate helping the child stay cooler.
I hope you continue to enjoy you’re summer. If you have a question, comment, or suggestion for Mom’s Corner, please e-mail it to: moms-corner@juno.com

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