Heat Safety: A Foster Parent’s Guide to Celebrating Summer Safely

heat safety

For most children, foster or otherwise, summer is a wonderful, school-less time where days are spent with friends out under the sun, preferably by a pool.

For parents, foster or otherwise, it’s also a time rife with invisible dangers such as heat. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, one in four kids ages 14 and younger will sustain an injury that requires medical attention with 40 percent of all injury-related emergency room visits and 42 percent of all injury deaths occurring between May and August.

But as scary as that sounds, these accidents can be avoided with a little vigilance and education. Here’s embrella’ (FAFS) Heat Safety Checklist:

Heat Safety-Never Leave Young Children or Animals Alone In a Vehicle, Not Even For a Minute

Although it is common sense, every summer there is a tragic story involving a child or animal that died of heat stroke after being left unattended in a vehicle. Not only is it against the law to leave children and animals alone in a car in some states, but it could also result in a life-altering tragedy.

According to an estimate by San Francisco State University’s Department of Geosciences, since 1998 there have been at least 619 heatstroke deaths of children left in vehicles. More than half of these deaths involved children less than two years old.
“Under no circumstances, not even for a minute, should a young child ever be left alone in a vehicle,” said of NJ Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Allison Blake. “This is especially true during the summer months when the interior temperatures of a car can soar very quickly to dangerously high levels.”

DCF recommends that you always look inside front and back seat areas of your vehicle before locking the doors, remove kids before unloading groceries and call 911 immediately if you see a child unattended in a vehicle.

Also, always remember your furry friends. Leaving an animal in a car, especially in the summer, is nothing short of cruelty and often results in tragedy. And if there’s something children don’t need, especially foster children, it’s more loss in their lives.

Heat Safety-When Children Are Around Water, You Should Always Be Watching

Yes, this sounds like common sense but it’s often disregarded as drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between 1 and 4 years old and the third leading cause of death among children, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
Never leave children alone near the pool or the ocean, no matter how old they are or how great of swimmers they may be. Also, put that cell phone down and forget about all the other things you have to do (and we understand that as a parent, foster or otherwise, that’s a lot). But when children in your care are around water, you need 100 percent of your attention focused on them and their safety.

If you own a pool, it’s important to install fencing and self-closing, self-latching gates to keep children from being able to wander into the pool unsupervised. Lastly, if you don’t know CPR and would like some piece of mind, you can take free or low cost classes throughout NJ. For those outside of the state, please search for similar opportunities in your area.

Heat Safety-Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Children want to be outside as much as they can in the summer and while that’s a welcome change from the days spent in front of the Xbox or Playstation, it still comes with the perils of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

One way to combat these illnesses is to keep the kids in your care hydrated. Always have water or sports drinks on hand to maintain hydration. Be aware of the signs of dehydration, such as dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth and irritability.

Also, try to keep children in shady or air conditioned spots during the hottest time of the day which is usually mid-afternoon.

Summer should be a fun time in any child’s life, and as long as you’re paying attention to the dangers of heat, dehydration and water, it will be.

Author: Lloyd Nelson, FAFS Digital Media Manager

Lloyd Nelson is the Digital Media Manager of Foster and Adoptive Family Services. He can be reached at lnelson@fafsonline.org.

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