Summer means fun times and sunshine! But that sunshine also means higher temperatures. Scorching weather lasting longer than usual has become a health concern for many parents and health care providers. With these high temperatures, parents need to take special precautions to keep their children safe. While warm temperatures help facilitate lots of fun summer activities, they also can preclude dangers such as dehydration, heat stroke and heat cramps. Let’s learn about the best practices to help your child stay safe this summer!
Keep them Hydrated
Children are more susceptible to dehydration than adults because they have smaller bodies. Water breaks are an excellent way for kids to cool down and stay hydrated during sports or play. Having plenty of fluids available before physical activities in the heat is key. Water is the best choice, but fluids with extra electrolytes like fruit juices or sports drinks can help with extended activities in the sun. Encourage your children to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, even when they do not feel thirsty. Popsicle’s and other cool drinks can be fun treats to beat the heat; however, it is best to avoid beverages high in sugar as regular sources of fluids.
Keep it Cool
Extreme temperatures can lead to dehydration or even heat stroke in children. Here are some tips for keeping your kids cool at home:
- Keep your air conditioning set at a comfortable temperature. If you do not have air conditioning in your home, using fans can help keep the temperature cool inside your house.
- Close windows and blinds to help reflect heat out of the home.
- If you have a multi-story home, lower floors tend to stay cooler as heat rises.
- Dress your kids in lightweight fabrics such as cotton and linen. Avoid synthetic fabrics as they are usually heavier and can trap heat.
- Choose clothing with a loose fit. Fabric that is tight can increase the risk of overheating
- Choose light, loose-fitting footwear. Close-toed shoes are best for outdoor activities.
- A lightweight hat can help protect your child’s head and face from the sun as well as overheating.
- Plan for extra rest time when temperatures are high.
- Swimming and other water activities such as splash pads or sprinkler play can help you and your children stay cool and relaxed.
- In extreme temperatures, indoor activities are best to avoid heat-related illness. Crafts, indoor hide and go seek or other activities can be a fun way to pass the time when the temperatures outside are too hot for your little ones.
Don’t Leave Kids in the Car—Ever!
Even a short time in a hot car can be fatal for a child. The temperature inside a vehicle can rise to extreme levels very quickly even with the windows open. An unattended child may succumb to heat stroke as their bodies are less able to regulate their body temperature or notice the temperature rise inside the car. In addition, many children are too young to be able to unbuckle the harness of their car seats or unlock and open the doors of the vehicle. Most states have laws against leaving children unattended in cars.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a medical emergency and can happen when a child is exposed to extreme heat. If your child experiences the symptoms listed below, they could have heat stroke or heat exhaustion, and you should seek medical treatment immediately:
- Extremely high body temperature
- Hot, red, or dry skin
- Vomiting or dizziness
- Rapid heart rate
- Extreme tiredness
- Excessive sweating, especially in the palms and soles of the feet
- Muscle cramps, especially in the legs
Keep Your Precious Ones Safe
Taking appropriate precautions and watching for signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion can help ensure your child has a safe and happy summer. But if you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to visit your neighborhood pediatrician at Valley Pediatrics.
We ensure that kids and parents feel protected, relaxed, and understood during their well or sick visit. Same-day appointments are available. Contact us and let the top doctors in town guide you on how to protect your child during extreme heat.