In another part of Los Angeles Tuesday, a group of teenagers found themselves needing some emergency help while hiking up to the Hollywood sign, where it was about 90 degrees. Group members were having trouble due to the heat.
Here, in Woodland Hills, and we've seen triple-digit temperatures for the last few weeks, we haven't had reports of children suffering heat exhaustion. Health and safety officials are spreading warnings and advice to keep that the case.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration warns that the temperature inside a car can rise almost 20 degrees in the first 10 minutes and leaving a child unattended in a car can be dangerous—even fatal.
According to the administration, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children under the age of 14, with at least 33 fatalities reported in 2011 alone.
To help avoid this sort of tragedy, the organization suggests the following advice:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle – even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on;
- Make a habit of looking in the vehicle – front and back – before locking the door and walking away;
- Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected;
- Do things that serve as a reminder a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a purse or briefcase in the back seat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver's view to indicate a child is in the car seat; and,
- Teach children a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child's reach.
But children—and others—can suffer heat cramps, exhaustion or stroke even outside of a car. Children's Hospital Los Angeles issued a statement this week with the following tips to avoid heat-related illness:
- Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
- Wear a hat.
- Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more and apply this every hour. For more information on sunscreen safety and the FDA’s new regulations that come into effect this year see my previous blog post, “Sunscreen Safety: Understanding the FDA’s New Regulations”
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, such as water or an electrolyte enhance drink like Gatorade.
- Your child should drink fluids every 15 to 20 minutes.
- Avoid fluids containing caffeine or alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol actually make you more dehydrated and susceptible to heat-related illness.
- Plan your activities around cooler times of the day, for example before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m.
- Take frequent rest breaks in a cool and shady area.
- For older children and teens, use a “buddy system” to keep an eye on each other to rest breaks and drinking enough fluids.
- If you or your child is taking prescription medication or has a chronic condition, please consult with the physician regarding outdoor activity.
Also, see the CHLA flyer with information about recognizing heat illness symptoms and what to do if you see them.