DOHA: Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has cautioned parents against leaving children alone in parked cars in high temperature, saying they are more vulnerable to heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
Leaving children alone in the car with the air-conditioner on is equally dangerous, warns Director of Paediatric Emergency Services, Dr Khalid Al Ansari said.
“Some parents tend to leave their children unattended in vehicles parked outside under the sunlight without realising that the time that is required for anyone to get heat exhaustion or heat stroke in the car is much faster than if the person is sitting outside in the sun,” said Dr Al Ansari.
“If you park your car in the sun for around 10 minutes, the temperature inside can rise by up to 10 degrees. It gets higher as time passes by. If a child is left behind in such vehicle, he/she can easily develop heat exhaustion and that can result in heat stroke, which can be life-threatening,” he added.
He advised parents to always take their children with them if they go out to do something outside their vehicles.
“If there are adults attending to children, it’s okay, provided that the air conditioner is turned on,” he said, adding “leaving children unattended with the air conditioner on in the car is equally dangerous.”
Carbon-monoxide from the car exhaust can come out through the air conditioner vents and whoever is in the vehicle can suffocate from carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Children under four years are at higher risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion when they go out in hot weather as they cannot perspire actively like adults, he said.
Dr Al Ansari explained that danger signs to look out are dizziness, tiredness, muscles cramps, difficulty in breathing and racing heart rate.
“Action to take in this situation is to get the affected child out of the hot area.
“Take him or her to an air-conditioned area. Have them lie down, and start providing them with plenty of cold fluids to cool down,” he suggested.
He said it will be helpful to remove thicker clothes and leave only light clothing on while applying cold compresses on the body as needed to bring the temperature down gradually.
“Usually within 30 to 45 minutes the person should feel better.
“If the heat exhaustion continues and symptoms described were not attended to promptly, heat exhaustion will become heat stroke with body temperature reaching as high as 40 degrees or more,” warned Dr Al Ansari.
The patient might start losing consciousness, experience fainting, and seizure activity and can even go into a coma.
“If that continues, blood pressure will drop and the person can die,” he said, advising people to dial 999 in cases of emergency to seek professional help.