Are you Keeping Your Kids Cool?
Young children are more susceptible to dehydration and becoming ill in hot weather than healthy adults. Children’s bodies don’t tend to cool down as efficiently which leaves them more at risk than during a summer heatwave. Dehydration occurs when fluids leave the body through sweating faster than they are being replaced – severe dehydration can be life-threatening! Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke, can happen to anyone who stays in the summer heat and sun for too long, but children are more at risk.
It is important for parents to know how to prevent heat emergencies, and recognize when their child has been in the heat for too long and be able to provide help when needed.
The Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Emergencies
- Cramps or muscle tightening, usually in the legs and abdomen but they can be in other parts of the body
- Dizziness, weakness, and feeling faint
- Skin that is redder or paler than usual, or moist skin
- Rapid shallow breathing
- Unusual irritable, bizarre, or aggressive behaviour
How to Help
- Move the child to a cooler location
- Give the child cool water to drink in sips
- Have the child loosen any tight clothing
- Fan the child
- Put cool water on the child’s skin
- If the child’s condition is severe, put covered ice packs in each armpit and on the back of the child’s neck
- Call for help (EMS/9-1-1)
When you’re hot you sweat more than normal, so you need to drink more to replace the water your body is losing. Drink plenty of cool fluids, even if you do not feel thirsty, but avoid caffeine and alcohol which can cause dehydration and stop your body from controlling its temperature properly.
Preventing Heat-Related Emergencies
- Be sure your child drinks plenty of cool fluids — this is the most important preventative step you can take!
- Get your child into the habit of having a drink break about every 20 minutes or so in hot weather and during physical activity.
- Avoid activities outside during the hottest part of the day (usually around noon).
- Know the humidex rating — it combines the temperature and humidity to indicate how hot, humid weather feels to the average person.
- Dress your child in light, loose clothing to let air circulate and heat escape and always make sure they wear a hat.
- Apply sunscreen (with SPF 25 or higher) as sunburned skin reduces the body’s ability to cool itself.
- Slow down your child’s activities as it gets hotter and don’t play for too long at a time.
- Take a lot of breaks in a cool or shady area to let your body cool off.