Medical Advice

 Stay Safe From the Summer Heat

In Polk County, we can count on summers filled with sunshine. Unfortunately, the sun can contribute to creating hot environments that can be dangerous for children and adults. Being aware of heat-related illnesses is crucial to preventing them. They can happen suddenly and, in some cases, can lead to permanent disability or death.

It is never safe to leave a child unattended in a car. Even on mild or cloudy days, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise quickly and children are at the greatest risk for heat stroke. Having a routine can reduce the risk of forgetting a child in a car. When the child is not in the car, place an object in the child’s car seat, while buckling them in, place the object next to the driver’s seat. The object will remind the driver that a child is in the back seat.

Heat stroke is the most dangerous form of heat-related illness, body temperature rises rapidly because the body has lost its ability to control its temperature. This can happen in as little as 10 to 15 minutes and body temperature can reach 106 degrees! 

Heat stroke is a concern for anyone in a hot environment, including adults spending time in the sun. To prevent heat stroke, avoid the hottest parts of the day, drink plenty of water, and be informed of the signs of heat stroke. If heat stroke is suspected, call 911 immediately, this condition can be fatal if treatment is delayed. 

Signs that indicate heat stroke include:

  • Confusion, slurred speech, altered mental status
  • Loss of consciousness (passing out)
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • A very high body temperature 

We can all play a role in enjoying a safe summer filled with sunshine. Remember to always double-check your child’s car seat, keep cool, and drink plenty of water.


by Dr. JOY JACKSON, MD, Director of DOH-Polk

About the Author: Dr. Joy Jackson, an internal medicine physician, serves the community as director of the Florida Department of Health in Polk County (DOH-Polk).  For more information about DOH-Polk, visit  Follow DOH-Polk on Twitter at

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