Sun and Heat Safety

Did you know that a child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s body? It only takes a few short minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated. In just 10 minutes a car’s temperature can increase by 19 degrees – and it continues to rise. In 2010, more than 49 children diedwhile alone in a vehicle. It did not have to happen, and to make sure that it will not happen to you, make sure to follow the tips below.

Top Tips for Preventing Hyperthermia In & Around Cars

  • Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.
  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or whatever is to be carried from the car, on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This triggers adults to see children when they open the rear door and reach for their belongings.
  • Set your cell phone reminder to be sure you dropped your child off at day care.
  • Set your computer calendar program, such as Outlook, to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”
  • Have a plan that if your child is late for day care that you will be called within a few minutes. Be especially careful if you change your routine for dropping off little children at day care.
  • Teach children not to play in any vehicle.
  • Lock all vehicle doors and the trunk after everyone has exited the vehicle – especially at home. Keep keys out of children’s reach. Cars are not intended to be playgrounds or babysitters.
  • Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child goes missing.


If you experience the following after being in the heat seek medical help:

  • Skin is hot red and dry
  • Have nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fainting and dizziness


To Do’s:

  • Avoid being in the sun – travel in early morning and later in evening if possible.
  • Parents and children should wear hats, wear cool light clothing.
  • Increase your water intake; before, during and after activity.
  • If you experience a power outage, call your utility company.
  • Call 311 to find a cooling station in the city.


Sun Protection Tips for Infants and Children, Based on Age Group


Under six months
  • No sun, no sunscreen
Under one year
  • Keep out of direct sunlight
  • Keep off hot surfaces – like playground equipment and areas hands and knees may burn if crawling
Under two years
  • Use PABA-free sunscreen with SPF of at least 30
  • Shoes for all playground surfaces
All children
  • Avoid long sun exposure, even with sunscreen
  • Always wear a hat
  • Be alert for long-term risks

* Ask your physician if extra care is needed for sun exposure if your child is taking an antibiotic, anti-seizure medication or acne preparation.


Resources: ABA, Safe Kids USA, & CDC

Material provided by Children’s National Emergency Trauma and Burn Services