Keep kids safe in extreme heat

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Temperatures are set to skyrocket all across the East Coast for the next few days. Here are a few tips to make sure you and your family stay safe in the summer’s first heat wave. For more summer safety tips, download Boston Children’s Hospital’s summer safety brochure.

If your children are playing outdoors, make sure they take water breaks, even if they’re not thirsty. If a child complains about any of the following he could be overheated or at risk for heat illness:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps

If your child has of any of these symptoms, have him lie down in a cool, shaded area with his feet slightly raised, with drinking water and a cool cloth on hand.

Playground equipment heats up quickly in the sun. Metal slides, steel jungle gyms or even plastic surfaces can become hot enough to burn, especially toddlers and young children, who have thinner skin than adults. Still water like puddles or wading pools can also get very warm after too much direct sunlight and should be avoided or tested by an adult.

Did you know that the temperatures inside of parked cars could rise almost 20 degrees hotter than the outside, even with the windows cracked? And it only takes about 10 minutes to hit these temperatures. When traveling with children, remember to do the following:

  • Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
  • To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.
  • When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.

When the weather gets this hot it’s tempting to open your windows to let fresh air in. But windows that are open just five inches could be dangerous for children under the age of 10. Falling out of windows can cause very serious injuries. To avoid them:

  • Put store-bought window guards on all windows above the first floor. Screens aren’t strong enough to stop a child from falling through a window.
  • Make sure your child cannot reach any open windows.
  • Set rules with your child about playing near windows.
  • Move furniture away from windows, open or closed. If a child falls off a chair or table into glass, it could cause him to break through the window.
Kids should be supervised AT ALL times around water

Swimming is good exercise and a great way to beat the heat, but only when done safely. Even if they are good swimmers, children need to be watched closely anytime they’re in, or around, water. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water, so they need adult supervision around pools, lakes, oceans, wading pools and “kiddie pools.”

Always keep kids in your direct line of sight when around water. Reading, listening to music or having long talks with other people can limit your ability to pay attention. Children can drown silently and quickly, so adults need to be focused and alert when watching them swim.

If you own a pool, make sure it has a fence with a gate that locks. It needs to be at least four feet high and surrounding all four sides of the pool — the house should not be used as one of the sides.

Teach your child to swim. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children begin swimming lessons at 4 years old.