Health experts warn summer days bring risk of heat injuries, especially to young children

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TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Summer has arrived in East Texas.

It’s a familiar July story – the sun is beating down and humidity is up.

That means it’s time, once again, to think about heat safety for both yourself and your children.

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Heat exhaustion is something Dr. Eric Higginobotham often sees early on in the summer as kids are getting used to the heat, especially the younger ones.

“Heat exhaustion happens frequently in kids less than four,” said Dr. Higginbotham, chief of pediatric emergency medicine at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin. “They tend to be one of the highest risk groups and infants.”

Heat exhaustion happens when your body loses too much water. Warning signs include feeling lightheaded or faint. If not treated quickly, it could lead to another emergency: heat stroke.

“That’s when your body can no longer regulate heat,” Dr. Higginbotham said. “Then you can have seizure and that can be a life threatening condition.”

Even a sunburn early on in childhood can be threatening.

“Even just a single sunburn where you’re peeling can drastically increase your risk of cancer down the line,” Dr. Higginbotham said.

The CDC says just one blistering sunburn as a child doubles your risk of skin cancer later in life and encourages “sun safety” to guard against the risk.

Dr. Higginbotham also sees another frequent summer danger – children left in hot cars.

“That is disastrous,” he said. “When we talk about heat-related injuries, that is the one you want to make sure that you’re vigilant about preventing.”

The organization Kids and Cars estimates that more than 940 children have died in hot cars nationwide since 1990. To help prevent these deaths, the organization has put together a list of safety tips and a checklist.

Dr. Higginbotham says all those heat-related emergencies can be prevented if you know what precautions to take (sunscreen shots, water) and who to look out for.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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