Valley schools, child care centers prepare for hot weather

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- School districts and child care centers are implementing their hot weather protocol. They're worried about more than just the heat outside -- they're also watching the air quality as both things can be detrimental to children.

The toddlers at New Harvest Child Care Center in Clovis are playing inside on Friday. Normally, this rambunctious bunch would be outside, but once temperatures creep up they're indoors -- away from sunlight.

Director Michelle Robbins said, "When its 90 degrees the toddlers do not go outside at all. They stay inside, they do indoor play and water play inside." And she says there's a reason for it. Toddlers aren't at the age where they can follow direction. The 3- and 4-year-olds follow a different heat index -- only going back inside when it gets into the mid-90s. "They tend to stay in the shade more. They'll play under shade coverings, whereas the toddlers will wander all over; the sun doesn't bother them," said Robbins.

But when the air is bad, Robbins says everyone is kept inside, and the teachers have to get creative. "It's a huge building. We've got basketball hoops in there, we take toys over, and they're able to play in this huge building that's air conditioned," she said.

They're important rules to follow. Fresno Unified's school nurse says they're worried about heat exhaustion when kids are exposed to the sun's hot rays. School nurse Joseph Irwin said, "It takes place after several days of not being well hydrated, and perhaps activity related. With heat exhaustion you start seeing some heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, dizziness, headache."

And he says bad air days are treated like rainy days. Activities will have to be done inside. It means teachers and day care providers will have to get creative, and even if the kids don't love it, it keeps the youngest of Valley residents safe all summer long.

Day care centers will often cater their outside time to the early morning hours -- something doctors suggest most people do when those temperatures creep up.
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