The warm, balmy Texas weather is starting to begin and schools are about to let out and we're already starting to hear about tragedies such as the mother whose one-year-old daughter died in the car as she went to work at Guzick Elementary in Pleasant Grove.
Unfortunately, the story of the baby girl who was left in the hot car is all too common for emergency room doctors who refer to summer as the "trauma season." The summer months are when we see a spike in drowning and heat-related accidents; parents and caregivers need to become educated about known health and safety hazards and how to prevent accidents from occurring.
One problem is preoccupied parents who forget their sleeping children in the car and unintentionally leave them to die from heat exposure. Even leaving infants or children in a hot automobile for a couple of minutes is dangerous as temperatures can quickly rise in the summer, leading to brain damage, kidney failure and death within minutes. When the outside temperatures range from 80⁰F to 100⁰F, the temperature inside the car can quickly rise to more than 170⁰, and on an 83⁰ F day, the internal car temperature can reach 109⁰F in just 15 minutes.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that heat is not a problem until July or August. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are actually a larger problem at the beginning of the season because our bodies haven't had the chance to acclimate to warmer weather.
A common myth is that pool parties are safe when adults are around, this is not necessarily true. Many drownings occur when adults are close by or when they take their eyes off their child for just one or two minutes. Since pool parties can involve commotion, music, or alcohol, it's important to have a designated adult watching all children in the pool at all times.
Children do not need to only drink when they're thirsty because by the time they're thirsty, they're already dehydrated. Children who weigh 100 pounds or less should drink six ounces of water or a sports drink about every 15 minutes or so. People can also get sunburn on cloudy days; therefore, it's important to use clothing and hats that avoid sun exposure. Sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes and reapplied after swimming or sweating.