Don't Get Burned by Heat


Playing hard is hard work, so in the summer sun, you need to watch for signs the fun might be swinging toward sickness.

Dr. Michael Cotter of PediatricCare says heat exhaustion is a potential problem with temperatures heat up. He says kids may seem disoriented or more tired, get headaches or feel sick to their stomach. Also, their attention may wander or they may get dizzy or faint. Dr. Cotter says if a child shows any of these signs, immediately get them to a cooler environment. He says applying ice packs to their neck and armpits is also a good idea, and hydration is key.

Hydration is also key in preventing heat illness. Dr. Cotter says feeling thirsty is a sign dehydration has already started, that's why routine drinking every 15 to 20 minutes is vital. The need will vary. Dr. Cotter says a 90-pound child will need four to six ounces every 15-20 minutes; a 130-pound child will need at least nine ounces every 15-20 minutes; and older adolescents or adults should shoot for 10-12 ounces every 15-20 minutes to prevent heat exhaustion.

Chilled water or sports drinks are the best options. Dressing in light-weight, light-colored clothing also helps. Dr. Cotter also says to pay attention to humidity. He says when it's humid, sweat won't evaporate off the skin, which is the body's natural cooling method, putting people at risk of overheating.

Untreated heat exhaustion can lead to the more-serious heat stroke. If a child is unable to drink, or their symptoms don't get better after a few minutes, seek medical attention.

Among other advice, Dr. Cotter advises working up to activity in the heat. He suggests spending 30 to 45 minutes at a time every other day for a couple weeks outside before jumping in to rigorous activity. Also, he says you can weigh your child before and after exercise to see if they need to replace fluids. He says every pound lost equals about a liter of fluid.

Kidshealth.org has more information on heat illness and children at the following link, kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/heat.html.


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