By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of staying cool while outdoors this summer. Heat stroke is no joking matter, and it’s important to know the signs of a person experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
With the mercury continuing to hover in the triple digits throughout most of the Rio Grande Valley, I wanted to revisit the topic of heat safety, this time focusing on those who are a lot more vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat: our kids.
I have a friend who recently gave birth to her first child and jokingly refers to her daughter as “Mini,” as in “Mini Me.” Though kids can look like pint-sized versions of their parents, their bodies are more fragile than an adult’s.
A child can overheat 3 -5 times faster than an adult, according to information from kidsandcars.org. And some of the most vulnerable kids are those who are the least able to speak up for themselves when they’re in distress. According to Kids and Cars, 87 percent of children who have died as a result of being left in a vehicle were 3-years-old or younger.
The summer of 2016 has been an especially hot one, and the heat wave that has been blanketing most of the country doesn’t look like it will let up any time soon. Already, 18 children have died as a result of heat stroke from being left in a vehicle. Sadly, the most recent death was of a 2-year-old baby from Temple.
But there are things we can do to help avoid such a tragic fate. One simple thing parents can do is to make a habit of placing something important in their backseats, such as a phone or purse, so that they have to check the rear passenger space before leaving.
Remember, too, that walking around with the sea breeze cooling things down doesn’t mean your kids are safe. Kids can become dehydrated faster than adults, so carry water or other drinks with you.
One of my favorite family photos is of my parents and us kids spending a day at Gladys Porter Zoo. My dad, sister and brother are standing in front of the elephant enclosure squinting into the sun as my mom snaps the photo. I’m there, too: a chubby toddler fast asleep in a stroller. But what stands out in the photo is a large Thermos — decorated in 1970s style flowers — hanging from the stroller handles.
I was too young to remember our trip to the zoo that day, but I can still say with near certainty what was in that Thermos. Knowing my mom and her penchant for preparedness, it was filled with ice cold Kool-Aid. She knew we kids would get hot and thirsty while walking from exhibit to exhibit beneath a scorching sun.
And that Thermos made an appearance during many a family trip, as did my mom’s oversized handbags filled with sunscreen, napkins, bottles of water and snacks. That was mom: prepared for any eventuality.
Keep your family safe this summer by staying prepared and establishing routines for when you’re out and about. And as always, visit us online at www.portisabelsouthpadre.com.
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