Summer’s here, which means it’s time to send your kids outdoors. You know what we’re talking about. You have to keep them entertained for days on end: hiking, camping, playing in the sprinkler, playing sports, mowing the lawn, etc. (If you actually manage to get your kid to mow the lawn, we salute you.) But when it comes to sun exposure, you have to be careful and you have to make sure your kids are being careful. Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are dangerous conditions that can affect anyone who has been exposed to too much environmental heat. And, unfortunately, it’s particularly dangerous to young ones. Here’s our guide to beating heat exhaustion! [photo via flickr]
Remember the following:
Be mindful of risk factors for dehydration and heat illness. Any kid who’s playing outdoors for extended periods should be stocking up on fluids and taking breaks. Long exposure to high temperatures, direct sun, and high humidity leave children at risk to experience symptoms of heat stroke.
Pay attention for warning signs of dehydration. If your child suffers from fatigue, thirst, or dry mouth, it’s best to get them hydrated because thirst often doesn’t start to manifest until a child has lost around 2 percent of their body weight from sweat. If dehydration escalates, it can worsen and become heat cramps (affecting the abdominal muscles or limbs), heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. If your child experiences dizziness, headaches, weakness or pain while in the heat, get them somewhere cool and make sure they hydrate quickly. If they reach a temperature of 104 or higher, or experience nausea, vomiting, seizures, delirium, shortness of breath, or unconsciousness, they should be taken to a hospital immediately.
Prevention is key! Make sure your child drinks before, during, and after exercise. Cool water and sports drinks will help keep them hydrated—make sure they take regular breaks for a drink, even if they aren’t thirsty.
Handle heat illness before it worsens. If your child is experiencing ill effects after being out in the hot weather, act quickly to reverse their condition. Get them into a cool, comfortable place out of the sun as soon as possible. Have them start drinking plenty of cool fluids and make sure they aren’t wearing any excess layers of clothing or sports gear. Warm skin can be relieved with a cool, wet cloth, and heat cramps can be helped with gentle stretches to the cramping muscles. They should not be allowed back on the field or in the hot sun again for the day.
Your child doesn’t have to be an athlete to suffer ill effects of dehydration or heat stroke. Any child outside in summer weather can be affected by these symptoms, so apply sunscreen and send them out armed with lots of drinks! Avoiding heat stroke makes summer fun and safe for everyone.