Keeping your kids and pets safe during the Florida summer heat

As the summer heat intensifies in Florida, the safety of children and pets becomes a critical concern. With temperatures frequently soaring, it’s essential for residents to be proactive in protecting their loved ones from the dangers of extreme heat.

Children’s body temperatures rise three to five times faster than adults, making them especially vulnerable to heatstroke, according to Columbia Medical. According to the Florida Department of Children and Families, the temperature inside a car can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes, making it a significant hazard for children left unattended.

Risks to Children:

  • High body temperature
  • Dehydration
  • Inappropriate clothing (Ex. long sleeves, long pants, non-breathable material, etc.)
  • Partaking in outside activities during peak hours of heat: Afternoon

How to limit the risks:

  • Never leave children in a parked car, even for a short period.
  • Ensure that children are hydrated and dressed in light, breathable clothing.
  • Schedule outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening, to minimize exposure to extreme heat​.
File: Baby girl in car seat

File: Baby girl in car seat

Risks to pets:

  • Pets, particularly dogs and cats, are also highly susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
  • The Humane Society warns that pets can quickly overheat as they don’t sweat like humans; instead, they rely on panting and the evaporation of moisture from their lungs to cool down.
  • High humidity can severely impair this cooling process, putting pets at risk of rapid and dangerous increases in body temperature.

Dog left in hot U-Haul truck for an hour while owners went to Florida beach, police say: 'So thirsty'

How to limit the risks:

  • Pet owners should ensure their animals have access to ample shade and fresh, cool water.
  • Exercise should be limited to the cooler parts of the day.
  • Avoid walking pets on hot asphalt as it can burn their paws.
  • Never leave animals in parked cars.

FILE - Dogs at a dog park.  (Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images)

Recognizing the symptoms of heatstroke in both children and pets can be life-saving. 

For children, signs include:

  • High body temperature
  • Red, hot, or dry skin
  • Rapid pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

If any of these symptoms occur, it’s vital to move the child to a cooler environment, apply cool cloths to their skin and seek medical attention immediately​.

(FOX Weather)

In pets, symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse

If a pet shows signs of heatstroke, move them to a shaded or air-conditioned area, apply cool (not cold) water to their body, let them drink small amounts of water and take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible​.

For more information and resources to keep your little ones and furry friends safe during the summer months: