It's now officially the dog days of summer. This is the time when people and animals are trying to find ways to keep cool, whether it is playing in the pool, going to the lakes or just sitting inside an air conditioned house. This is many people's favorite time of year because of the hot weather. While it can be fun, everyone must take precautions, especially young children and the elderly.
Hyperthermia is a condition that occurs when the body's temperature rises and is unable to cool back down. Some common heat-related illnesses that fall under hyperthermia are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. When the human body reaches 104 degrees, you may feel some of the following symptoms. Symptoms of heat stroke are: hot and dry skin, confusion, convulsions and loss of consciousness. Symptoms of heat exhaustion are: dizziness, headache, cramping, weakness, nausea, and rapid pulse. If you experience any or all of these symptoms, get to a cool environment. You may also need medical attention if symptoms don't subside. Once the body temperature reaches 107 degrees, cells begin to die and organs begin to shut down. Help prevent these illnesses by drinking plenty of non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids and do not overexert yourself. Children are more susceptible to heat illnesses due to their body temperature rising three to five times faster than an adult. With that in mind, consider the following statistics when you're out running errands with your children.
According to the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University, this year there have been 21 hyperthermia deaths of children left in cars in the United States. Since 1998, there have been 513. As we all know, the inside of a parked car can get extremely hot in the summer, but just how hot can it get? On a 90 degree day, the inside of a car can reach 109 degrees in just ten minutes. In 30 minutes, it can climb to 124 degrees, and in 90 minutes it can reach a broiling 138 degrees. Even on a mild 72 degree day, the temperature in a car can reach 116 degrees. Numerous studies have shown that cracking the windows had little or no effect on the temperature in the vehicle. Hyperthermia deaths of children in vehicles can be prevented by simply not leaving children in the vehicle alone - not even for a short amount of time. These tragedies can also happen if children are playing in a vehicle while unattended. Remember to keep vehicle doors locked, and the keys out of reach of children, so they can't get into the vehicle without an adult.
While taking precautions for you and your children, don't forget about your pets. Never leave a pet in a vehicle for the same reasons mentioned above. When your pets are outside during hot weather, make sure they have plenty of fresh water, shade and ventilation. Like humans, animals can suffer from heat stroke. Some signs to watch for are: panting, staring, anxious expressions, warm and dry skin, rapid heartbeat, vomiting and collapsing. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your pet is suffering from heat stroke.
With a little prevention and planning, everyone will be able to enjoy the warmth of our summer before we return to winter. So go enjoy the pool, the lakes or the air conditioning!