16 May 2024

Beating the heat

With summer approaching and temperatures rising, it’s important to make sure vulnerable people are protected from the heat. Babies can be at particular risk from hot conditions, which can be difficult to avoid in warmer countries. An award-winning study has examined the most effective low-cost ways of keeping infants cool when they’re outside in pushchairs or strollers.

Researchers looked at eight different options to keep children cool, including closing the pushchair’s canopy, clip on fans and draping different fabrics over the front.

A wire frame fitted with six sensors was used to monitor the temperature inside the pushchair with four resistance thermometers placed where the child would be. Some of the interventions actually increased the temperature, such as covering the pushchair with a dry muslin or flannelette cloth.

But researchers found the most effective method was a combination of a battery-operated fan and a damp light-coloured muslin cloth draped over the pram, which reduced the temperature by 4.7C.

The study by Mohammad Fauzan Bin Maideen, Ollie Jay, Coen Bongers, Ralph Nanan and James W Smallcombe won this year’s award for the best paper published in the journal Ergonomics.

It said: “The current findings may inform evidence-based guidance regarding stroller heat safety management which may be disseminated to caregivers through healthcare services (e.g. antenatal classes, online health advice, etc). Evaporative cooling techniques may be advocated as efficacious stroller cooling strategies for use in hot weather.

“In contrast, caregivers should be advised to refrain from using dry material coverings that limit natural ventilation through the stroller as these exacerbate the heat stress within the carriage.”

Read the full paper.