Kids, Cars, and Heat Stoke: What You Should Know

While leaving your child in the car for a moment is often a legal and moral conundrum in itself, the heat wave hitting the nation has added a new safety factor to the equation. Honestly, living in Alaska where typical weather does not top 70 degrees Fahrenheit or so, there have indeed been times that I have left a sleeping child in my car while stepping out to use a port-a-potty or run into a convenience store where I could see them through the glass. In areas such as mine that are now seeing record highs residents just aren’t used to, the dangers of leaving an child in a car even for a short time may be unknown.heat stroke cars kids

On average 37 children die of heat stroke or heat exhaustion in hot cars each year, with a total of 669 since 1998. The vast majority of those children– 97 percent–are under the age of 5 with 74 percent being younger than age 3.

How hot can a car get, and when does heat stroke become an concern?

A human being can suffer from heat stroke and die once the surrounding temperature reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit. A child is more susceptible to heat stroke, because his/her central nervous system (which acts to cool the body in extreme heat) is not fully developed. A study from San Francisco State University found that in temperatures between 72 and 96 degrees a car will increase in heat by approximately 19 degrees in 10 minutes, 29 degrees in 20 minutes, 34 degrees in 30 minutes, and 43 degrees in an hour. That means on a sunny 80 degree day, it may take 20 minutes for a car’s interior to reach lethal temperatures, but in 100 degree heat, it would take mere minutes. The color of the vehicle’s interior may affect this rate. Numerous studies have shown cracking the windows to have little to no effect. In addition, interior temperatures don’t increase at a steady rate either, rather they vary with the external temperature and rate at which the surfaces of the car absorb radiation.

What do you need to know about vehicular heat stroke?

To put it frankly, never leave your child alone in the car. If you absolutely must, leave the car and air-conditioning running and be as quick as possible. That being said, the majority of heat stroke deaths in children are not a result of parents intentionally leaving them in the car. In fact, only 17% are, while 54% are a result of children that were simply forgotten in the car, another 29% were playing in an unattended vehicle, and the remaining 1% are unknown. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I’d never forget my child,” but parenthood can be hectic. It can and does happen– even to parents who said, “I’d never..”  It may help to always bring your child in first before groceries, your purse, etc (even if they are napping), refrain from answering calls or texts until you and your child are inside, and talk to your child often while driving.

To keep your child from sneaking into your car unattended, always keep your doors locked and your keys out of reach. You might also try some efforts to prevent toddler escapes.

Next, know the symptoms of heat stroke. These include dizziness, confusion, agitation, an overall sluggish appearance, dry, flushed skin without sweat that is hot to the touch, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, seizure, and finally unconsciousness. In younger children, such as infants, some of these signs may be hard to spot.

If you suspect your child may be suffering from heat stroke, seek medical help immediately and make efforts to cool their body temperature. This may include removing clothing, applying cool water to the skin, offering cold drinks, cranking the AC, and so on.

Of course, heat stroke can happen outside of cars too. Remember to dress your child accordingly, use sunscreen, stay hydrated, and when not in the car, find cool places to escape the heat as often as possible. Avoiding strenuous activity in peak-heat hours is also recommended.

It’s hot outside, be safe.

My Toddler Ate a Bug! What to Do About Toddler Insect Eating

Babies may have a reputation for exploring their world with their mouths, but toddlers seem to choose the most disgusting things to investigate. While some commonly ingested toddler choices are clearly gross, but obviously okay, such as paste and crayons dawning the non-toxic stamp, other choices leave you scratching your head and heading to the nearest search engine. One such item that ranks high on the questionably-consumed meter is bugs.toddler ate bug

Why do toddlers like bugs so much?

I’d love to offer you a scientifically-supported answer here, but a mom-supported theory is the best I can do. I’d wager the fascination most toddler-aged children acquire for bugs has to do with the fact that they meet several no-no requirements such as being small and dirty, and gain a that’s-not-a-toy, ew, or another generally negative reaction from mom or dad, all while moving in interesting ways. From the very first time my toddler spotted a house fly trapped in the window he fell in love with all that creeped and crawled. Next thing I knew he was hunting and then consuming any bug he could find.

Is it dangerous for my toddler to eat bugs?

About 1,400 species of bug are known to be edible, and in some countries, they are actually common dinner-plate additions. Insects are actually proven to be healthier than most meats nutritionally. However many bugs only become edible when cooked, and some simply haven’t been tested. On top of this, you have to consider the danger of your toddler catching the insect to eat it. My toddler has already been stung by hornets and wasps several times now attempting to catch a snack. In some areas, poisonous spiders are also a concern (I live in Alaska myself thankfully.) There is also the risk that an insect has been exposed to pesticides outdoors before ending up in your toddler’s hands, and many pesticides can be toxic.

What can I do to stop my toddler from eating bugs?

In the end, the threat of injury from trying to catch bug and the possibility of consuming a not-safe-to-eat insect gives parents a good reason to try to deter this gross childhood behavior. In many cases, nature will deter your child’s behavior for you. For example, my toddler no longer tries to catch flying bugs as he associates them with being stung. As a parent, I wouldn’t say this is the safest way to teach your child not to eat creepy crawlies, but it is one benefit when it does happen.

What you can do is work on prevention. If you see spiders, bees, ants etc. in the house move them outside. You can decrease bug activity in your home by keeping it clean, sealing doors, windows and other entrance points well and using organic pest control methods such as lemon or sticky traps (keep them up high). Outdoors a border of used coffee grounds will both fertilize your yard and act as a pest deterrent. Other than that you can’t do much but keep an eye out and keep telling your child that bugs are not for eating.

What if my toddler does eat a bug?

I wouldn’t say it’s a medical emergency if your toddler does manage to down an insect, but you should keep an eye out for signs of sickness. Chances are pretty low that the actual consumption will cause any health issue, but be sure to check for bites or stings on your child’s hands especially in the case of spiders.

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Preventing and Treating Wasp Stings


Peeling Nails or Nails Falling Off? Onychomadesis after Hand, Foot, and Mouth in Kids

First, my 6 year old lost a finger nail. I thought maybe he squished it or snagged it on something and just didn’t say anything. The next day, the nurse called me to ask if I knew about his finger. I thought it was the same one and said yes, but when he got home, I found he was missing yet another nail. The whole thing was just gone.

I assumed maybe he had brittle nails for some reason—iron deficiency maybe—and put him on a multi-vitamin. Fast forward about 3 days, my 2 year old’s entire big toe nail just falls off. No blood, no pain, it was just gone, like his nail peeled off. I looked at all three kids, and they all had nails peeling off! Alright, now I was freaked out. What the heck was happening? Was it a fungus? Why were my kid’s nails falling off?
Peeling Nails Nails Falling Off shedding nails Onychomadesis hand foot and mouth
Well, now we have to go back in time, to about a month ago, when my entire household had a bad case of hand, foot, and mouth. As it turns out, peeling nails, nail shedding, or nail loss, also known as Onychomadesis, is a little known complication of hand, foot, and mouth typically presenting about 3 to 4 weeks after infection, but may occur anywhere from 1 to 10 weeks after.

What is Onychomadesis, and why does it happen?

Onychomadesis is a fancy medical word for the occurrence of peeling nails which may break or fall off completely shedding at the nail bed. You may notice the nail turns white before falling off, and there may or may not be a new nail beginning to grow in below it.

It’s caused by a temporary stop or slowing in nail growth. In this case, the hand, foot, and mouth virus itself interrupts growth. So, as the nail grows up and out, there is a gap, so to speak, in the nail bed, which causes the nail above it to fall off. In minor cases, only slight indention or lines on the nails may be seen.

As hand, foot, and mouth primarily attacks the feet and hands, it makes sense that it may also affect the nail bed—this just certainly was not something I had ever heard of, and it didn’t happen the first time my kids had hand, foot, and mouth. It’s suggested that only certain strains of hand, foot, and mouth cause peeling nails, shedding, or nails falling off.

What do I do if my child’s nails are peeling or falling off?

Yeah, there’s some horror movie gross-out with this one, seriously, it is disturbing, but all my kids communicate well, and they all said that it didn’t hurt. In fact, when I removed the remainder of one peeling nail, my 2 year old didn’t even flinch. So, while it may look painful and gross, it likely isn’t hurting your child.

Your best bet is to simply keep your child’s hands clean and leave them alone. New nails will grow in and rather quickly actually. The condition is not permanent, so if it keeps happening, you should definitely speak with your pediatrician. There are other causes of nail peeling or shedding, but honestly, they are uncommon. Even fungal infections tend to only damage nails, not make them just sort of fall off.

Anyway, I will say this whole experience was rather educational. The wonderful thing about kids—and even crappy situations like lost nails in kids—is that you learn something new everyday.

This page has received so many comments, I was inspired to learn more about nails actually, specifically whether or not research supported any ways to help nails grow back faster which you can read about here.