Keeping Kids Safe Through a Heat Wave

Have you looked at a weather map lately? All across the country, things are hot and dry. It seems that a day or two after a heat wave starts, reports start coming in of children, pets, and the elderly succumbing to the heat. This past Saturday, just a mile away from my home, a toddler was rushed to the hospital after being rescued from an SUV that registered 124°F. 

Her mom was shopping inside a popular boutique. To be fair, the police report states that the mother didn’t appear to be coherent when they found her inside the store. In another instance, a 4-month-old died inside a car on Saturday. A teen father is being held in that case.

Here’s the thing. You aren’t ever supposed to leave your children unattended in a motor vehicle. Ever. I think that goes for double when the temperatures are hot enough to kill.

Have you ever wondered how hot your car can actually get? This chart at shows you that it can be 82°F outside, and 109°F in a vehicle. That’s more than 25°F warmer than the air temperature. No one and no thing needs to be in that kind of environment for any amount of time.

Kids swimming in a pool
Keeping cool on a hot summer’s day!

Although it often appears that the heat doesn’t slow kids down, the opposite is true. According to, children don’t sweat as effectively as adults, and they aren’t as in tune with their body’s cues. For every twenty minutes of outdoor activity, a child should be rehydrating with 8 ounces of water. It may sound like a lot, but it’s crucial to keeping children healthy in the this heat.

Here’s what I’ve noticed about the heat – it makes me more short-tempered as a parent. Everyone is more irritable, and it was me, not the children, on Saturday chanting, “Stop touching me! Stop touching me!”

During a heatwave, here are a few ways to keep your sanity and build summer memories.

1) Have a Plan: Break the day into manageable chunks, with plenty of down time in between activities or outings. There has been more random napping at my house this week  than there’s been a the past six months. After you’ve been out, plan for some quiet time inside. Alternate outdoor water play with indoor activities like the library or an arcade. Everything takes more energy when it’s hot, even just getting in and out of the car.

2) Loosen Up the Routine: Sure, sitting at the table is important for meals. But does anyone really feel like eating a sit down dinner? Serve up a “picnic dinner” in front of the television and clear the fridge of leftovers at the same time. I don’t normally condone paper plates, but the less the kitchen is used in a heat wave, the better. We don’t normally eat popsicles before lunch, but on days when it’s 95°F before noon, we sure do.

3) Night Swimming: R.E.M sang about it, and it’s one my favorite things. After dinner, we’ll hit the pool until very close to bedtime. Once we’re home, the kids rinse off quickly and then hit the sack. It’s actually a great way to cool off.

Remember, if you’re hot and cranky, your kids are probably feeling the same way. Rest. Hydrate. Cut Loose. And even if you think you’ll just be a minute, don’t ever, ever, ever leave your child in a parked car. Ever.

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