The heat of the summer has definitely arrived. Summer is a season of fun – pool parties, park days, and family barbecues result in long days of playing outside in the heat and in the sun. Additionally, athletes are often preparing for the upcoming season with training camps and outdoor workouts.
Spending time outside is great, as long as your child is protected by sunscreen, proper hydration, protective clothing, and frequent rest periods to avoid heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Signs of heat exhaustion in children may include:
- An elevated body temperature, usually less than 104˚ F
- Cool, clammy skin
- Chills, despite the heat
- Fainting, dizziness or weakness
- Increased sweating
- Increased thirst
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea and/or vomiting
It’s important to treat heat exhaustion immediately, as it can develop into heat stroke. If your child shows symptoms of heat exhaustion, you should:
- Bring your child to a cool, shaded place
- Encourage them to drink cool fluids that contain salt (like sports rehydration drinks)
- Apply a cold wet towel or sponge to the skin
- If your child complains of painful muscle cramps in his or her legs, arms or abdomen, you can also gently stretch or massage sore muscles.
If your child is unable to drink or seems to be losing alertness, call your doctor or seek medical attention immediately.
Signs/Symptoms of heat stroke in kids:
Heat stroke is a severe type of heat illness that occurs when a child’s body creates more heat than it can release. This results in a rapid increase in core body temperature, leading to brain damage or death if not promptly treated.
Signs of heat stroke in children may include:
- A body temperature that rises dangerously high – above 104 degrees
- Absence of sweating
- Confusion, disorientation
- Flushed, hot and usually dry skin
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing
- Severe headache
- Weakness and/or dizziness
If your child shows signs of heat stroke, call 911 and:
- Bring your child indoors or into shade and undress him or her right away.
- Begin rapid cooling by immersing him or her in a bathtub of cool/cold water.
- If not available, apply cold towels over much of the body replacing them frequently
- Avoid pushing fluids unless your child is conscious and alert
It is important to seek immediate emergency medical treatment.
Be safe, have fun in the sun, enjoy the summer with your children. BUT be aware of the extreme dangers that can occur with high heat and dehydration.
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