Protecting Your Child From Heat Related Illnesses

July 09, 2019

Did you know that children are among the most vulnerable when it comes to heat-related illnesses?  This is due to a few different reasons:

  1. Children don’t acclimate to higher temperatures like adults.
  2. Children sweat less and produce more heat.
  3. Children don’t always think to rest or hydrate while playing.

As a parent, you want your child to have as much fun as possible during the summer. However, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are real risks that you need to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know about preventing, identifying, and treating these heat-related illnesses in your child.

Keeping Your Child Safe From The Heat

To protect your child from heat-related illness, take the following steps before and throughout their outdoor playtime.

Check the Heat Index

Don’t just rely on the thermometer. The heat index takes into account the temperature and the humidity, which tells you how hot it actually feels outside. Many times, the heat index can be well above the actual temperature.

Avoid the hotter parts of the day

Noon to 3pm tends to be the hottest part of the day, so it’s not a bad idea to stay indoors during this time if the heat forecast is especially high.

Dress your child in light-colored, loose fitting clothing

Avoid dark colors and tight clothes. These tend to retain more heat and can cause your child to overheat faster. Instead, dress them light-colored, loose fitting clothes. Have them wear a hat and sunglasses as well for added protection.

Hydrate

Hydration is VERY IMPORTANT during the hotter months, especially for your little one. Keep in mind, however, that your child may not think to drink on their own, so you’ll need to make sure they take frequent water breaks. Sports drinks can be okay as well, however you should avoid drinks with caffeine, as they can increase the chances of dehydration.

Take breaks to cool down

Be sure your child takes the time to stop and rest, preferably indoors or in a shaded area. You can also use a mist bottle to help them keep them cool.

Signs & Symptoms Of Heat Related Illness

Aside from the prevention measures above, you should also know the signs and symptoms of different heat related illnesses, as well as what to do if you see them in your child.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps are often brought on by intense muscle exertion in high temperatures and the loss of salt through sweat. Though they tend to be the least severe of the heat-related illnesses, they still require you to take action. Symptoms of heat cramps include:

  • Painful muscle contractions or spasms
  • Firm muscles
  • Dehydration

If your child experiences heat cramps, you need to:

  • Move your child to a cool area, preferably indoors, where they can sit and rest
  • Remove any excess clothing
  • Help them cool down with a cold compress or cloth
  • Give them something to restore electrolytes, such as Gatorade or Pedialyte.
  • Slowly stretch cramped muscles.

If your child’s symptoms persist after an hour, get worse, or if you notice additional symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by high-heat stress on your child’s body. Symptoms include:

  • Heat cramps
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Increased heart rate

Though heat-exhaustion can be treated at home, it’s important you take immediate action. If untreated, it can lead to heat-stroke. If you notice these symptoms after your child has been exposed to high temperatures, you should:

  • Cease physical activity immediately
  • Move your child to a cool area, preferably indoors.
  • Give them water or an electrolyte formula to rehydrate
  • Help them cool down with a cold compress or cool bath
  • Fan their skin
  • Do not resume physical activity for the rest of the day

If symptoms get worse, call 911 immediately.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a serious, life threatening illness that requires immediate medical attention from a doctor. It should be noted that heat stroke is entirely preventable in children if you follow the prevention steps above. Symptoms include:

  • Altered mental status, such as confusion or aggression.
  • Internal body temperature of 104F or higher
  • Extreme fatigue or lethargy
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea and vomiting

If your child experiences these symptoms, call 911 without delay. While you wait for medical help to arrive, take the following actions:

  • Move your child to a cool place
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Drench or immerse in cold water
  • Apply ice packs or a cold compress to armpits and groin
  • If alert and able, offer your child something to drink

For further questions about heat-related illnesses in children, contact Purohit Pediatric Clinic.

 

 

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