Wednesday 20 September 2017

Warning to parents as children rushed to hospital suffering from effects of continuing heatwave

The HSE and the Department of Health have warned that babies and young children are at risk of suffering from potentially adverse effects arising from warm weather. Stock photo: GETTY
The HSE and the Department of Health have warned that babies and young children are at risk of suffering from potentially adverse effects arising from warm weather. Stock photo: GETTY

Sarah Slater and Laura Larkin

Three children were hospitalised over the weekend suffering the effects of too much sun.

One child under the age of five was brought to the Emergency Department in Temple Street with severe sunburn.

Separately, two children were brought to Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin with illnesses related to the prolonged sunshine.

Meanwhile, the HSE and the Department of Health have warned that babies and young children are at risk of suffering from potentially adverse effects arising from warm weather, stressing that "overheating is dangerous for children".

The warning comes as a leading paediatric sleep specialist spoke of the dangers children face when sleeping in the heat.

Specialist Lucy Wolfe says young children are more susceptible to heat exhaustion as they do not understand the difference between hot and cold.

She stressed that extra precaution needs to be taken to ensure children remain cool.

"It's vitally important to ensure children are well hydrated during the day and check regularly to see if he or she is too hot," Wolfe said.

"Look for sweating or feel the baby's tummy, as hands and feet will usually be cooler, which is normal. If your baby is hot, remove clothes as you feel appropriate".

Ms Wolfe also stressed that children should never be allowed to sleep in vehicles.

"The temperatures inside a parked car can rise very quickly, even with the windows open, so transfer your baby from the car whenever possible," she said.

Her warning comes three weeks after a seven-month old baby girl died after she was found unresponsive in a parked car in Co Tipperary on one of the warmest days of the year

As the heatwave continues today and into tomorrow, the HSE has advised parents to keep babies under six months old in the shade.

They also urged older children to adhere to the 'Sun Smart' code and wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face, neck and ears.

Sunscreen should be liberally applied throughout the day - and always after swimming.

Seeking shade between 11am and 3pm, and buying children wraparound sunglasses, is also advised by the health authorities

A HSE spokesperson said that Irish parents appear to be more 'sun smart' this year, with fewer children presenting at hospitals.

Age Action is also urging people to call or visit their elderly relatives and neighbours to ensure they are okay, warning that certain medications can reduce people's tolerance of heat and their ability to regulate their body temperature.

"The warm weather is a real boost to the country, but it can pose difficulties for older people, especially those with respiratory and heart problems," Age Action spokesperson Justin Moran said.

Water safety is a high priority at this time of year as people hit the beach or local lakes and rivers to cool off.

Deputy CEO of Irish Water Safety Roger Sweeney told the Irish Independent that hidden hazards are a huge factor in drowning incidents.

"Drowning is often a silent killer."

He warned against jumping into water from a height.

"It is called 'tombstoning'," he said. "Jumping from a height into water can be like hitting concrete."

He suggested that people should swim in known safe areas, preferably where a lifeguard is on duty, and be aware of where ring buoys are located.

As the school holidays draw closer, Mr Sweeney emphasised the fact that 30 children under 14 had drowned in the last decade.

"That is a classroom of children," he said.

The ISPCA has also issued warnings about ways to prevent pets becoming dehydrated during the hot summer days.

"To avoid overheating, try not to overexert your pet on walks - exercising early morning and late evening is ideal - and make sure they always have access to fresh water and a shady spot to sit in," Carmel Murray of the ISPCA said.

The good weather is set to continue today for most parts of the country, with temperatures expected to drop towards the end of the week.

Irish Independent

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