Summer has arrived and according to health experts extreme hot weather may cause heat-related sickness–even death.
To kick off its sixth annual “Beat the Heat” awareness campaign, the DeKalb County Board of Health will demonstrate on Tuesday, July 1, at 1:30 p.m., how quickly a car’s interior can heat up and become very dangerous for its occupant. The demonstration will involve S’mores (marshmallows and chocolates) and a large thermometer.
The demonstration is part of the agency’s “Beat the Heat” campaign that reminds parents and caregivers to never leave infants or children in parked cars on hot days. Further, people with chronic illnesses and pets should not be left in parked cars. They can suffer heat sickness too.
“Unfortunately, we’ve all experienced this scenario. You stop for a quick dash in to a local convenience store, leaving someone in the car, and suddenly those few minutes can easily turn in to 20 or 30 and become quite deadly,” said S. Elizabeth Ford, M.D., M.B.A., the District Health Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health and a board certified pediatrician.
In Georgia this year, there have been 14 car heat-related deaths of children.
“The DeKalb County Board of Health’s Beat the Heat campaign provides tips on how to avoid heat sickness. People at special risk include infants, children, the elderly, people with chronic medical conditions or who experience homelessness and those who work outdoors or who play sports,” explains Dr. Ford.
Heat-related symptoms may include: heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, clammy skin; fast, weak pulse; nausea or vomiting and fainting. Health officials encourage people to watch for these signs and seek medical care immediately. Other extreme weather tips include:
- Never leave infants, children, the elderly or people with a chronic illness in a parked car. Nor should pets be left in parked cars—even if the windows are down.
- Always lock a parked car so that young children don’t enter by themselves.
- Be sure that all occupants leave the vehicle when unloading it. Don’t overlook sleeping children especially during day care outings or family vacations.
- If a child is missing, check the car first, including the trunk. Teach children NEVER to use a car as a play area.
- Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Make sure to drink more water than usual when outdoors and don’t wait until a person is thirsty to give them more.
- Regularly apply sunscreen on children as indicated on the package.
- Seek medical care immediately if anyone experiences the symptoms of heat illness.
- Keep an eye out for children, seniors, and/ or pets in hot parked vehicles. If you believe that an occupant is in danger of heat illness, call 911 or the local fire department for assistance.
For more information about the DeKalb County Board of Health’s Beat The Heat campaign, visit: www.dekalbhealth.net and for information about extreme heat education, visit: www.cdc.gov/nceh/extremeheat.