CDC Launches New HeatRisk Forecast Tool to Help Protect Children During Heatwaves

The CDC launches a new online tool to help Americans, especially vulnerable groups like children, prepare for heatwaves and stay safe during extreme heat, which is becoming more frequent due to climate change.

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Justice Nwafor
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CDC Launches New HeatRisk Forecast Tool to Help Protect Children During Heatwaves

CDC Launches New HeatRisk Forecast Tool to Help Protect Children During Heatwaves

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has launched a new online tool called the HeatRisk Forecast Tool to help Americans, especially vulnerable groups like children, prepare for heatwaves. The tool, a joint effort between the CDC and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service, provides a week-long forecast of upcoming hot weather and indicates the level of risk in a specific area on a five-level scale.

The HeatRisk tool uses health and temperature data to assess the unique health risks from heat in different regions of the United States. It delivers a seven-day heat forecast and local air quality data to help people take steps to stay safe during extreme heat, which is becoming more frequent due to climate change. Last summer, heat-related emergency department visits increased, especially among outdoor workers, due to more frequent and prolonged hot and humid weather.

Why this matters: Children are among the most vulnerable groups to extreme heat due to their high water content and dependence on adults for food and drink. The tool aims to help parents and caregivers protect children from heat-related illnesses, which can impact vital organs and even lead to death if left untreated.

The CDC emphasizes that heat-related illness and death are preventable. They provide guidance on how to lower the risk, especially for vulnerable groups like children with asthma, pregnant women, and people with cardiovascular disease. To protect children during a heatwave, the CDC recommends keeping them hydrated, avoiding direct sun exposure, dressing them in lightweight and light-colored clothing, and ensuring they get adequate rest. It's also important to avoid strenuous activities, caffeinated drinks, and leaving children unattended in vehicles.

"Mothers who are breastfeeding should drink adequate water to prevent dehydration in babies. Babies should be given boiled and cooled water during summer," the CDC advises. They also recommend bathing children in lukewarm water and avoiding talcum powder, which can clog pores and cause boils.

Hospitals and the 108 ambulance network have put protocols in place to manage patients with heat-related symptoms, including providing oral rehydration salts and drinking water. Parents should seek medical attention if their child shows signs of heat-related illness such as confusion, increased heart rate, tiredness, pallor, heat cramps, seizures, or becoming comatose.

Key Takeaways

  • CDC launched HeatRisk Forecast Tool to help Americans prepare for heatwaves
  • Tool provides 7-day heat forecast and local air quality data to stay safe
  • Children are most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, which can be fatal
  • CDC recommends hydration, avoiding sun, and rest to protect children
  • Seek medical attention if child shows signs of heat-related illness