Severe heat can inhibit the safety of babies and children. With global temperatures on a slow march upwards, heat waves such as this are unfortunately likely to become more frequent than their previous once-in-a-lifetime occurence. Some people adore the heat, but babies and children as well as pets and elderly relatives are vulnerable to heat strokes, dehydration and other serious heat-related ailments. Here are some tips on surviving the heat.
- Never, EVER, leave a baby, child or pet in a parked car during hot weather. The temperature inside a parked car can very quickly rise to extreme levels. Children and pets can become extremely over-heated and some have even died when left in a hot car. This tip is therefore very important.
- Make sure babies, children and pets have plenty of water to drink. Heat produces sweat which causes the body to lose vital water. It is very important to replenish the body with water in order to prevent dehydration, which can be very serious. Here are some pregnancy tips too.
- Keep babies, children and pets where it is coolest. Find the coolest room in the house, most likely the basement, and spend as much time there as possible. Only go outside unless you are doing water-related activities or if your house gets so hot, it’s cooler in the shade outside. Restrict outdoor exercise, including walking dogs, to cooler evenings. Avoiding the heat is a great reason to spend the afternoon at the air-conditioned library.
- Dress appropriately. Keep babies and children in lightweight, loose fitting clothing. Is your toddler not a fan of clothing? Well, this is a good time to let him get away with his preference for nakedness!
- Hats and sunscreen. If you are outside in the sun at any time, make sure babies, children and yourself have hats and waterproof, high-SPF sunscreen on. Make sure to re-apply it when necessary. If baby is constantly taking his hat off, find a hat that has a Velcro strap that goes under his chin.
- Fans and air conditioners. These are of course, summer-heat standbys. Here’s a good tip: put a bowl of ice in front of a fan. The fan will blow the cooler air around the ice towards you!
- Don’t leave a baby or child to nap in direct sunlight. That tip speaks for itself.
- Utilize water. Cold showers and baths, pools and natural bodies of clean water are of course great. But here’s another tip: fill up a bucket with very cold water and sit with your feet in it. As your blood circulates through your body, it will cool down in your feet and circulate cooler blood throughout your body. I tried this today and it helped a great deal. Just make sure there are no electronics that can fall into it to avoid electrocution.
- Keep cool at night. Have the whole family sleep in the basement if possible. Make sure babies and children are in light clothing, if clothing is necessary, and that they only have a sheet to cover them, if necessary. Open windows, if safe, to ensure plenty of circulation of the slightly-cooler night air. A cold shower or bath before bed can also help.
- Check in on elderly relatives. If elderly relatives live in hot areas, make sure to check with them that they have everything they need to beat the heat. The elderly are very vulnerable to overheating. Sadly, sometimes, it even causes death.
- Be careful of worsening air quality. Heat causes air quality to diminish. Be aware of this and make sure people with respiratory problems, including kids with asthma, are looked after. Try staying inside where the air is a little better.
- Indulge your children in frozen treats. If it’s very hot, the cooling effect of frozen treats can be more important than their sugar content. If you’d prefer a healthy alternative, pick up a popsicle mold and make fruit juice popsicles by filling the mold with fruit juice.
Here are some signs of overheating to look out for:
*rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
*weakness, dizziness, or fainting
*more tiredness than usual
*confusion or disorientation
If you see these signs in someone help them cool down by removing clothing, having them drink cool (but not ice cold) water, bathing them with cool water and moving them to a cooler area. If they appear seriously listless or disoriented, take them to the emergency room or call 911.
The above signs to watch out for were taken from the Toronto Public Health’s brochure on beating the heat. This brochure also has tips similar to some of the ones above.
For more information about the health effects of extreme heat call
Canadian Red Cross Heat Information Line 416-480-2615