We’re all aware that high temperatures can cause heat-related illness, but did you know it’s even more dangerous for children? Nurse Rose Melendez, director of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center, tells us why and how to prevent this problem.Rose Melendez

Why are children more susceptible to heat-related illness?

Nurse Rose: Children, especially small children, are more sensitive to high temperatures because their body’s ability to regulate temperature isn’t fully developed yet. In fact, a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s body.

What can happen if a kid gets too hot?

Nurse Rose: Heat related illness occurs when the body cannot cool itself properly. Just like an adult, an overheated child can develop heat exhaustion, or the potentially fatal heat stroke.

So how can you prevent your kids from getting heat exhaustion or heat stroke this summer?

Nurse Rose: If your kids are spending time outside in high temperatures, you should follow these simple rules.

  • Hydrate before play. Make sure your child is drinking water before playing or practicing sports outside.
  • Take hydration breaks. While playing in the heat, children should take five to 10-minute break and drink cool water every 20-30 minutes. As temperatures climb into the 90s and 100s, kids need a break every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Stay indoors with air conditioning. When temperatures are over 90 degrees with high humidity, it may be appropriate to avoid extended outdoor activity. As always, consult your child’s physician about their physical activities.

Are there other situations we should keep in mind to protect our kids from extreme heat?

Nurse Rose: On average, a child dies every 10 days as a result of heatstroke in a vehicle. This tragic accident can be prevented.

  • Never leave your child alone in a car. There is no safe amount of time to leave your child in the car. While it may be 70 our 80 degrees Fahrenheit outside, temperatures in the car can reach 120 degrees.
  • Create reminders. Leave your wallet or cell phone next to your child in the car, as not to accidentally forget a quiet child in the backseat.
  • Take action. Call 911 immediately if you see a child alone in a car.

With three Emergency Departments and three urgent care centers throughout Montgomery County, Adventist HealthCare has your emergency needs covered.