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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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:
If your child experiences heat cramps, you need to:
If your child’s symptoms persist after an hour, get worse, or if you notice additional symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Heat exhaustion is caused by high-heat stress on your child’s body. Symptoms include:
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:
If symptoms get worse, call 911 immediately.
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:
If your child experiences these symptoms, call 911 without delay. While you wait for medical help to arrive, take the following actions:
For further questions about heat-related illnesses in children, contact Purohit Pediatric Clinic.