Hot weather brings risk

Times-Herald Staff
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It can be tragic and would be the nightmare for any parent.

Kailee, 6, plays on the slide at Cresent Park on Tuesday afternoon. Canada's Safety council told the Times-Herald that is important to keep your children well hydrated this summer to avoid heat stroke.

According to one of the biggest hot car-related death researchers in the United States, 43 children who were left in a vehicle in the heat died of heat stroke between January and October 2013. Lewis Smith, communications and media coordinator for the Canada Safety Council estimates there are ten deaths related to children being left in cars each year.

"Really you don't want to leave a kid alone in a locked car on a remotely hot day for even a minute," said Smith. "It's sad but the fact is kids are at extreme risk for heat exposure, mostly because their systems aren't fully developed, so they can't sweat away the heat as much as a fully grown adult could."

Smith explained that on a mild day, 20 minutes left in a closed car could cause a child to overheat, go into shock and sustain vital organ failure. On a hot day he said only after a couple minutes a child could be at risk.

"A ridiculous amount of children are left in locked cars and end up dieing as a result," said Smith. "It's very tragic and completely unneccessary."

Sgt. Cliff Froehlich, of the Moose Jaw Police, said citizens should assist a child in a car if they see that they are not capable of taking care of themselves in the vehicle.

"A child left in a car seat in a vehicle is definitely a clue that you should be paying attention because a child who is in a car seat is by all means going to be too young to be left alone in a vehicle," said Froehlich said, before adding that people should call 911 if the child is need of medical attention. 

With summer and a heat wave finally arriving in Moose Jaw, Smith said the sunny days bring the possibility of heat related illnesses. To stay safe and healthy in the sun, the first step is to stay hydrated by drinking water regularly throughout the day. The second advice he offered was to keep the heat off of yourself with widebrimmed hats, sunglasses and lose fitting, light coloured clothing.

"Sun stroke can cause anything from dehydration to exhaustion. You can pass out if it's severe enough," said Smith. "If you are starting to feel faint, if your vision is starting to fade a little bit, or even if you are feeling more exhausted than usual, they are all great signs that you should get out of the sun and just stay in the shade for a little while."

Smith said children are at great risk of sun stroke during the summer but said young men who work in manual occupations are in the most danger.

"All the hard manual labour is amplifying the problem. In that case taking regular breaks is vital to insuring they stay safe," Smith said. "One thing we do encourage is for employers to keep water on the site, near by and making sure every twenty or thirty minutes every employee drinks a cup of water."

Nathan Frank can be reached at 306-691-1263.

Organizations: Canada Safety Council

Geographic location: United States, Moose Jaw

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