The 4-Safety Program

Hot Weather Hazards

The summer months are the perfect time to get outside with your children and enjoy the beautiful weather. However, if you don’t take the right precautions, the sun can be a dangerous companion for you and your children. Babies, young children, and child athletes are especially at risk for sun-related injuries, but knowing the signs and symptoms of sunburn, dehydration, and heatstroke can help keep them safe.


Sunburns are more than an inevitable inconvenience of staying out in the sun too long. They are first-degree burns that can cause redness, mild swelling, and pain. More severe sunburns can cause symptoms like blistering, fever, chills, nausea, and dizziness. Even one severe sunburn in childhood can greatly increase your child’s risk of getting skin cancer later in life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping babies under six months old out of direct sunlight and in the shade. Using a small amount of SPF 15 sunscreen or higher on their hands or cheeks is okay. For those older than 6 months, we can avoid sunburn with these simple steps from the American Cancer Society: slip on loose fitting clothes, slop on sunscreen SPF 30 or higher, slap on a wide brimmed hat, and wrap on sunglasses to protect your eyes!


Another danger of the summer sun is dehydration, when the body loses more fluid than it takes in. Symptoms include thirst, dizziness, irritability, cramps, nausea, headache, weakness, and dry mouth. Children 8-14 years old can lose up to a quart of sweat during two hours of activity on a hot day, so it’s important that you talk to your children and their sports coaches about drinking water regularly and taking breaks from the sun. It is recommended kids drink water 30 minutes before, every 15 to 20 minutes during, and within the first hour after play. Also, teach your children the habit of always carrying a water bottle and avoiding high-calorie drinks when playing in the sun.

Vehicle Heatstroke

Vehicle heatstroke is of particular concern in the summer because the inside of cars can reach dangerous temperatures, even if the window is open. Since 1998, 662 children have died from vehicle heatstroke. Even leaving your child in a vehicle “just for a second” while you run an errand puts them at risk for heatstroke injury and death. And don’t be fooled by a cool day; children have died from vehicle heatstroke when the outside temperature is as low as 57 degrees! Death and injury from vehicle heatstroke is preventable.

Keep your children safe by remembering to ACT:

  • Avoid vehicular heat stroke by never leaving your child (or pet) alone in a car,
  • Create reminders by leaving pertinent items near your children in the backseat, and
  • Take action by calling 911 if you see a child alone in a car.  

Beat the Heat This Summer With These Resources From 4-Safety!

Check out these links to learn more


Lifespan’s Paul Porter, MD, discusses heat related illness and how to stay safe.


Leading experts discuss the issue of hydration in youth sports.


Heatstroke is an issue affecting families around the world. Find out how to keep your children safe from this preventable tragedy. (SafeKids)


A message from Robin Ikeda, MD, acting director of the US CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, on how you can prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths by staying cool, hydrated and informed.


  One Decision, a Child Safety Film about vehicular heatstroke delivers a powerful message.
  A bystander saves a baby’s life from vehicular heatstroke.

Safe Kids' Gary Karton hit the streets of Washington, DC, to get people talking about an important issue that’s been making headlines lately: heatstroke.


Did You Know?

  • Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related death for children under the age of 14. 
    (Source: Safe Kids Worldwide)
  • Children have died from vehicle heatstroke when the outside temperature was as low as 57 degrees. 
    (Source: Kids & Cars)
  • 80% of the increase in car temperature occurs in the first 10 minutes, even when the window is open. 
    (Source: Kids & Cars)
  • If you are between 8 and 14 years of age you could lose up to a quart (e.g. the size of a carton of milk) of sweat during two hours of activity on a hot day. 
    (Source: Safe Kids Worldwide)
  • The sun is most dangerous between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. 
    (Source: CDC)