It’s hot outside. Temperatures have risen high and early in the season this year, according to Riverside County Fire Department representatives. And although summertime means family vacations, pool time and other fun activities, it also means increased danger to those exposed to the heat and crowds.
Dehydration, drowning and near drowning, child-involved auto incidents, camp fire and barbeque burnings and other accidents occur with increased frequency during summer months.
Officials advise caution when working or playing in the hot weather and vigilance for parents traveling with children.
“With all this heat, we are seeing a higher call volume with heat related injuries,” said Captain Bret Cerini, Riverside County Fire. “The young and elderly are more susceptible than most, but anybody working outside needs to be careful. We’ve had to transfer a few of our own for dehydration.”
Cerini suggests anyone spending time outside be very careful to stay hydrated, take breaks and make sure to have access to shade.
“If you are ready for a drink, your child probably needs one too,” Cerini said. “And if you want to be inside, your pet probably needs to be inside too.”
Summertime also usually means camping and barbeques, which often result in burns, especially when young children are involved.
“We don’t propose people stop camping and barbequing, just be safe about it,” Cerini said.
Another frequent danger to children, the elderly and pets is the hot car. At this time of year, leaving a child or adult in a hot car is considered a felony.
“Sometimes parents leave the car running with their child inside, but then it gets stolen,” he said. “I know it takes an extra minute to get the child out and then go into the store, but it’s a safer choice.”
Cerini also cautions parents to be ever vigilant when vacationing with children in crowds. A toddler was recently killed in Temecula when he wandered away from his parents in a parking lot and was hit by a vehicle.
“It can happen in an instant,” he said.
One of the greatest summer dangers for children is drowning. This year there have already been 36 submersion incidences that include 7 deaths. Recently, a 6-year-old boy in Beaumont narrowly escaped drowning and a toddler in Moreno Valley was pulled from a pool in grave condition.
“We are seeing quite a rise in the number of submersion incidences this year,” said Victoria Young, public health nurse and program coordinator with Riverside County Department of Public Health. “This year we’re having an early hot season. With the rise of hot weather, we’re seeing a high proportion of kids having submersion incidences at pool parties and family gatherings.”
The months of July, August and September typically experience the highest number of drowning and near drowning incidents. Young children commonly have the most accidents, although Young warns adult fatalities are usually even higher.
“This year, we’ve had 12 incidences of adult submersions with eight fatalities,” she said. “If you’re an adult in a submersion situation, you’re four times more likely to die from it.”
Young said adults should also follow the basic water safety guidelines of never swimming alone and never drinking alcohol and swimming.
The summer season has only recently begun, so officials urge vigilance and caution for anyone swimming, traveling or spending any amount of time outdoors.
“The big thing is to drink, drink, drink,” Cerini said. “The young and the elderly are most vulnerable. Take breaks, stay inside or in the shade.”
Jennifer Dean is a local writer and new contributor to SWRNN.