Published on July 30, 2020

Be attentive when working, playing in the heat of the day

By Renee Beasley Jones, Messenger-Inquirer

At 3 p.m. Thursday, the mercury hit 90 degrees, but weather forecasters said the temperature outdoors felt more like 100.

National Heatstroke Prevention Day is Friday, and Owensboro Health officials want to bring attention to the risks that exist with working and playing in the heat.

First, OH teamed up with the Safe Kids organization to remind people about pediatric vehicular heatstroke.

Autos heat up like greenhouses when they are exposed to the sun.

For example, a car’s inside temperature can jump about 20 degrees in only 10 minutes, said Kay Ewing, OH outreach and injury prevention educator. Within 30 minutes, the vehicle’s temp can become up to 50 degrees hotter than the outdoor temperature.

Heatstroke can start when body temperatures reach 104 degrees, Ewing said.

“At 107 degrees, it is usually lethal,” she said.

When a child’s body reaches high temperatures, it can trigger a cascading effect of organ failure.

“When one organ starts to fail, it’s like a cascading effect,” Ewing said. “In heat, that cascading happens pretty quickly.”

Kids are more susceptible.

“A child can heat up three to five times faster than an adult,” Ewing said.

Kids don’t perspire as much as adults, and infants lack the ability to regulate their body temperature.

Ewing said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported these statistics from the period of 1998 to 2018:

  • 54% of children were left in vehicles unknowingly,
  • 26% of children gained access to cars on their own,
  • 19% of children were left knowingly in vehicles.

Parents and caregivers should never leave a child unattended in a car — even in shaded spots, Ewing said.

Also, cracking a window doesn’t help reduce a car’s inside temperature.

To help adults remember a child in is the back seat, adults should place a purse, phone, briefcase or left shoe in the back seat area.

Also, parents should teach kids that cars aren’t places to play, and adults should lock cars parked outdoors to make sure children can’t enter.

Adults should keep car keys and keypads out of a child’s reach, and parents should teach kids how to honk the horn if they feel in danger.

Adults out working or playing in the sun should be cautious this time of year, too.

Symptoms of heatstroke include dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion and seizures.

Look for skin that is flushed, hot and dry.

“It can happen to anybody,” Ewing said of heatstroke.

Anyone who suspects they are suffering from heatstroke should get out of the heat, rest, drink plenty of fluids and seek medical attention.

To prevent overheating, wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes and hydrate often. Also, work outdoors early or late in the day to avoid high temperatures.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

About Owensboro Health

Owensboro Health is a nonprofit health system with a mission to heal the sick and to improve the health of the communities it serves in Kentucky and Indiana. The system includes Owensboro Health Regional Hospital, nationally recognized for design, architecture and engineering; Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital, the Owensboro Health Medical Group comprised of over 200 providers at more than 20 locations; three outpatient Healthplex facilities, a certified medical fitness facility, the Healthpark; a surgical weight loss center and program, and the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center.

On average each year, we have 16,000 inpatient admissions, deliver 2,000 babies and provide the region’s only Level III NICU. Owensboro Health physicians perform nearly 24,000 surgical procedures, including nearly 200 open-heart surgeries. Our physicians and staff have 70,000 Emergency Department visits, more than a million outpatient visits annually. Visit our home page for more information.