Overheating is dangerous, even deadly, and by the time an overheated person experiences symptoms he may be in trouble. Kids are at special risk because they can get so caught up in playing they don’t take time to drink, seek shade, or slow down when the temperature climbs.
To keep yourself and your family safe, follow these precautions:
1. For active kids, make a game of staying hydrated by setting a kitchen timer for every 20 minutes and teaching the kids, “When the timer DINGS, DROP everything and DRINK.”
2. Drink even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid caffeine or alcohol. Eat small frequent meals.
3. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, pale clothing. Dark colors absorb the sun’s rays and raise body temperature.
4. Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day. Postpone outdoor games and activities.
5. Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors. Use a buddy system when working in the heat.
6. Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone, or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
7. Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles. Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.
If someone does get overheated, deal with it immediately.
Muscle pains and spasms, called Heat Cramps, are the first sign a body is overheated and in trouble. Immediately move the person to a cool place, loosen clothing, fan him/her, give small amounts of cool water and instruct him to drink slowly. If she refuses water, vomits, or loses consciousness, call 9-1-1.
The next level of heat illness is Heat Exhaustion, which typically happens during heavy exercise or work in hot weather. Signs include cool, moist, pale or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness, and exhaustion. Follow the care guidelines for heat cramps.
Heat Stroke is a life-threatening condition in which the body’s temperature control system stops working and the body cannot cool itself. Symptoms are hot, red skin that may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; vomiting; and high body temperature. Call 9-1-1 immediately. While you are waiting for help, apply cold compresses to the underarms, groin, and neck to quickly cool the person. If she is conscious, give small sips of water.
The special danger of cars on hot days cannot be overlooked. In 2010, 49 US children died from being left or trapped inside a hot car. This year, the first car-related death by hyperthermia (overheating) occurred in March.
Two simple habits can help prevent these needless deaths:
1.) Have a designated Teddy bear that goes in an infant or booster seat when it is empty. When you put a child in the infant/booster seat, put the Teddy bear next to the driver. The bear will remind the driver there is a child in the back seat. Move the bear back to the infant/booster seat when you take the child out.
2.) Always lock your car. A three-year-old boy died in mid-June when he slipped out of the house and climbed into an unlocked car to play. He did not know how to open the door from the inside and was trapped. By the time his parents found him, it was too late to save him. Locked car doors keep out curious tots.
Reprinted with permission from the June, 2011 "Connections" newsletter from FosterParentCollege.com. To read more, visit http://www.fosterparentcollege.com/

Author's Bio: 

Lisa Siegle is the writer and editor for Northwest Media, Inc., parent company of FosterParentCollege.com, Vstreet.com and SocialLearning.com. For more information, visit http://www.fosterparentcollege.com/