By NATHAN GREGORY
The hazards of excessive heat exposure led to the death of a 3-year-old child Monday in Neshoba County after she was left in a parked car. Precautions need to be taken to make sure that does not occur in Starkville, Fire Marshal Mark McCurdy said.
According to information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shortwave radiation can cause a dashboard or seat to reach temperatures in the range of 180 -200 degrees, a dangerous level for children, pets and adults.
NOAA studies say leaving the window open in a parked car “does not significantly decrease the heating rate,” and the effects of heat exposure are more severe on children.
McCurdy said there are three types of heat related illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. While the symptoms of each have similarities such as cramps and dehydration, other symptoms should be treated seriously if observed, he said.
“With heat cramps, you can get a mild fever with them. The treatment for that is to remove the person from the sun and get them to shade and make sure they rest. Give them something to drink that can replenish the electrolytes and salt in the body. With heat exhaustion, you still have muscle cramps but the skin gets pale and really wet. With more extreme exhaustion, people can be nauseous, vomiting and really weak,” McCurdy said. “You want to move the person to a cool place and you may need to remove clothing and put ice packs or cool cloths on the back of their neck. If conditions persist, go to a doctor.”
McCurdy said some symptoms of a heat stroke are opposite to that of heat exhaustion.
“In the case of a heat stroke the body will no longer be wet. The skin will be dry to the touch. That’s a sign that they’ve gone from exhaustion to a stroke. The body is trying to hold fluids and give them to the internal organs to keep them from dying,” he said. “If you notice a rapid heart rate, extreme fatigue, headaches and the person looks close to passing out, (he or she) needs to be rushed to a hospital.”
Tips provided by NOAA include making sure children’s’ safety seat and safety belt buckles aren’t too hot before securing them in a car restraint system and never leaving a child unattended in a vehicle.
“We do see a rise in heat related illnesses in the South, we’re urging residents to take precautions. Be smart, don’t overdo it, take breaks and drink plenty of fluids,” McCurdy said.