Stroller safety tips to help keep kids safe in heat

Monday, June 13, 2016
Stroller safety tips during summer heat
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Some of the signs of heat related illnesses

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- As the mercury continues to climb this summer, our risk for heat related illnesses increases. Young children are among those most affected by the heat.

And though doctors have been warning parents about leaving kids in a hot car for years, strollers can also pose a risk if used improperly.

Many moms like Mary Johnson Rockers have a checklist of must-have options for their kid's mode of transportation. "I looked for a really lightweight one, one that was easy to transport easily, and one that just one that wasn't too cumbersome and bulky with lots of padding," she said.

Strollers can be seen at nearly all parks on a hot summer day.

"With really young children it's hard to not have a stroller and then the parents get tired of carrying the child," Rockers said.

And though the devices may help out mom and dad, doctors say heat can build up inside of the stroller if kids are left in them too long, posing a risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Experts, such as Dr. Christian Nechyba who works at Carolina Kids Pediatrics in Raleigh, say children naturally cool off differently depending on their age.

"Babies do not dissipate heat or get rid of excess body heat as easy as older children do because they don't sweat as much," Dr.Nechyba explained.

He says it's important to look for signs of heat exhaustion, since toddlers and babies cannot always communicate with words. Some of symptoms include fussiness, irritability, and thirst. Dizziness and nausea are also common. Some children may turn red and their skin may be hot to touch, and others may begin breathing rapidly.

A common but serious mistake many new parents make is covering a car seat or stroller with a blanket in hopes of providing shade.

"You might think you are shading the baby from sun, but you are actually trapping in heat kind of a green house effect, so that's certainly not advisable," Nechyba warned.

He says choosing the right stroller is also important, and recommends purchasing strollers that are light in color. "Avoid excess cushioning that might keep a lot of their skin from breathing normally," he added.

Many doctors say frequent breaks and plenty of time in the shade is important, too.

"I just try to get him to walk frequently, so I don't keep him in the stroller for any long periods of time," Rockers said.

Other tips for comfort and safety include finding a stroller with a large canopy, to provide ample shade on sunny day. Also, small fans can help. Many companies now sell miniature fans that clip onto the handle bars of strollers. And, avoid the color black, which absorbs and retains more heat.

If you are concerned your small child is suffering from heat exhaustion, Dr. Nechyba says it's time to head indoors. "Get them into an air conditioned environment, and offer them fluids. Especially for babies breast milk or formula may be fine," he said. "If they are having any sense of vomiting or nausea or not taking that Pedialyte is also a good alternative."

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