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Home / News and Events / Health Tips / Prevent heat-related illness
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Prevent heat-related illness
 

Reviewed By: Thomas Abramo, M.D., chief of the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine (Last Updated: July 13, 2011)
  

Doctors at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt are asking parents to be vigilant against hyperthermia and other heat-related illnesses as high temperatures continue to rise.

Infants and young children are particularly susceptible to heat. A child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's. When the body's temperature reaches 104 degrees, internal organs begin to shut down.

Thomas Abramo, M.D., chief of the Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, says the emergency room has treated several heat-related illnesses recently, and knows that more cases could potentially be on the way. Each summer, he says, the emergency department sees a handful of cases where children are left alone in hot cars, which is now illegal in Tennessee. According to Safe Kids USA, since 1998, more than 500 children have died from hyperthermia or heat stroke when left unattended in a vehicle.

"A stationary vehicle can get up to 140 degrees in less than three minutes, even with the windows open," says Abramo. "It's never okay to leave a child alone in a hot car - not even for one minute."

Children's Hospital offers the following tips to avoid vehicle-related heat injuries or death:

  • Use cell phone or computer reminders to make sure children have been dropped off at the desired location.
  • Place an item that you always take from the car into your destination in the backseat with your child.
  • If your child is missing, check vehicles and trunks first.
  • Teach your children never to play in vehicles to prevent them from accidentally locking themselves inside one. Be sure to lock all doors and windows to vehicles on your property.

In addition, says Abramo, a high heat index means children will sweat more than usual and get dehydrated faster, which means they are at greater risk for heat stroke or exhaustion. With summer sports camps in full swing, he says it's important to keep children hydrated, since they often will not tell you that they need fluids until it's too late. It's also important to provide appropriate periods for rest and recovery to prevent overuse injuries. 

Parent should be aware of the key symptoms of dehydration:

  • Complaints of a headache or tiredness
  • Decreasing bathroom breaks
  • Nausea
  • Unsteadiness or dizziness

Learn more about heat illness.


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Additional sites rich with information and resources on a variety of health conditions and tips include:

Health & Wellness Library

Growing up Healthy

 
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