Mom Warns About Indoor Heatstroke Risk After Toddler Wouldn't Wake From Nap

by Megan Zander
Originally Published: 
Image via Instagram/Jennifer Abma

You don’t have to be outside to get heatstroke

When summer temperatures climb, most parents think keeping kids inside is the smart thing to do. But heatwaves can be a health risk for kids even if you’re not out in the sun.

RELATED: What To Know About Heat Exhaustion In Kids, Including Why They’re More Susceptible

When temperatures in Edmonton, Canada recently soared above 90 degrees, Jennifer Abma made the call to keep her one-year-old toddler Ariel and three-year-old daughter Anastasia inside and out of the sun. After some play time, Anastasia went off to her room for a nap. When Abma went to get her 90 minutes later, the little girl wouldn’t wake up.

“She was sweating and swollen and red,” Abma told TODAY. “It was awful.” She noticed her daughter’s room felt overly warm. Abma immediately called for help. When paramedics arrived, they determined Anastasia had a body tempature of 104. Her bedroom was 122 degrees. The little girl was experiencing heatstroke.

Luckily the paramedics were able to rouse her by feeding her sugar to raise her blood sugar levels. “It took 15 minutes to wake her,” Abma said. “She got really, really lucky. She was probably minutes away from permanent damage.”

Shaken by the experience but grateful her daughter was okay, Abma shared what happened on Instagram in hopes of warning other parents about the risks of indoor heatstroke.

“This is clear proof a child doesn’t need to be in the sun to get heatstroke,” she writes. She explains that because her daughter went into her room for a nap on her own, she didn’t know the room was so warm. “I had no idea how hot her bedroom was until I went to wake her up soaked in sweat, red face, boiling and unable to wake her for 15 minutes..”

Abma’s home doesn’t have air conditioning. Temperatures in her area rarely go above 80 degrees. On the day of the incident, she had the windows open to let in air and the shades drawn to block the sun. She thought she was being cautious, but paramedics told her without a fan moving the air around, putting a child in a bedroom in those conditions is similar to leaving them in a hot car. “It is not something you would think of happening in your kid’s bedroom,” she said. “You blame yourself. ‘Why did I let her go nap by herself?’”

It turns out when the temperatures go above 90, staying parking indoors might not be enough to protect you from heat stroke — even if you’re sitting in front of a fan. “Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness,” cautions the CDC. “Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off.” They recommend heading to the library or strolling around the mall for a few hours when it’s hot out. And when it comes to dinner, they suggest keeping the stove and oven off, so you have official permission to order pizza.

Luckily Anastasia made a full recovery. Still, Abma’s all too aware how lucky she is. “I’m shook and I can’t imagine what would have happened if I didn’t go check on her,” she wrote.

She wants other parents to take her experience as a warning. “Hopefully other parents can take something from this and make sure you are checking the rooms in your house because thy can be as dangerous as a hot car.”

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