It is important that babies be taken out and be environmentally stimulated. Doing that, they get the necessary exposure to people as well as different weather conditions. However one must exercise great caution when taking the baby out in extreme weather conditions.
When babies get exposed to extremely hot climate, a condition called heat stroke may occur. In a typical heat stroke a person’s body temperature rises and his/her ability to cool down rapidly deteriorates. Young babies are especially vulnerable as their bodies are still adjusting to the onslaught of harsh weather. Their bodies are still not adept enough at regulating their body temperatures. Furthermore, a young infant cannot vocalize and say that he/she is feeling too hot or he/she is thirsty.
They can easily develop heat stroke if they are out in the hot sun for too long, or are dressed too warmly. Driving in very hot weather heats up the interior of the car and may cause an infant’s body temperature to suddenly go up. This can be extremely dangerous and pose a serious risk to your baby’s health.
It is seen that some parents leave their babies strapped in their car seats whilst they carry on with their errands. In hot weather this can be fatal as cars and automobiles tend to heat up very quickly and this can cause your baby to develop sudden heat stroke and die. Most parents think it is way too cumbersome to carry a cranky toddler to the bank where they have to just deposit a check. Cars are like hot furnaces.
On peak summer mornings they are known to heat up to 120 degrees Celsius in just ten minutes. Leaving the window open really does not seem to help. The baby starts sweating and slowly gets dehydrated and if not treated can develop heat stroke and die. Most car heating deaths are caused inadvertently hence parents need to heed to caution while taking their children out in the summer months.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
In the initial stages of heat stroke the child may appear to be generally lethargic, irritable and thirsty. Bouts of crying may increase especially if he has been out for some time. Some babies may also get leg cramps and stomach pain.
A full blown heat stroke may cause the child to feel dizzy, nauseous and the temperature may suddenly sky rocket from 97 degrees Celsius to 103 degrees Celsius.
The skin may become scarlet and overheated. The baby may appear disoriented and confused and may complain of headache by rubbing his temples. Crying may become more intense. Breathing becomes more laboured and the child may vomit. In severe cases the child may get dehydrated and lose consciousness.
What To Do If Your Baby Has Heat stroke
In cases of sudden heat stroke it is important to take prompt action. Quickly take your child indoors or under the shade and try and get his/her body temperature down by putting cold swabs of water. If he/she is dressed too warmly, you may need to undress him/her. Make the baby wear loose, cotton clothing so that cool air can circulate and help bring down the body temperature. You may fan the baby and give him/her very small sips of water.
Once the baby’s temperature starts coming down, you may give him/her some mild electrolyte solution if he/she is showing signs of dehydration. Do not give him/her any fever medication as heat strokes are generally not responsive to them and may cause further complications. If the baby is unable to keep fluids down or is not responding to your aid, call a doctor.
Do take your child to the doctor who may then proceed to examine your child thoroughly. This is very true in cases where there may be an underlying serious condition and the baby’s mental or physical health rapidly begins to fade. In cases of heat exhaustion where the baby is unduly tired but does not have a stroke, get him/her out of the sun as soon as possible and give him/her some milk or water. You might also give him/her a cool bath or take him/her into an air conditioned room.
Preventing a Heat Stroke
It is wise to not take your baby out on extremely hot days. If going out becomes inevitable make sure he is clothed comfortably and wears only loose cotton clothing.
On a holiday at the beach try not to take your baby out between 11 am and 3 pm as these are the hottest hours. If at all you have to go, do sit in a cool shady spot under a beach umbrella and make sure your baby is comfortably nestled in his/her stroller well away from the sun’s rays.
If at all you want baby to splash around in a pool on a hot summer day, ensure that the pool area is covered or shaded. Keep giving the child fluids on a regular basis.
Whenever you are taking your baby out in the sun, make it a point to apply sunscreen liberally. These days you get specially formulated sun screens for baby skin. This is to prevent any rashes or redness from the sun.
Make sure he/she is comfortably seated in the middle of the car where there is less exposure to the sun’s rays. Turn on the car air conditioner so that your baby does not get too warm. On long journeys do carry plenty of fluids and offer these to your baby on regular intervals. You may carry breast milk, water or even juices if your child is slightly older. Take frequent breaks if the weather does not cool down. Do be informed about the local weather conditions and keep yourself regularly updated. Even in slightly cooler climates keep a check on your baby’s temperature especially if he/she is bundled up in warm clothing. Watch out for any signs of fatigue, crankiness or restlessness.
Guard yourself against negligence. Never leave your child unattended in a car. A lot of countries have car safety rules against abandonment of babies in cars. If you do see a child sitting alone in a car do notify authorities and make all out efforts to inform the parents.