One of the biggest dangers to children in hot weather is dehydration. Thirst is not an accurate measure of how much a person actually needs to drink, and kids rarely know just how much fluid they actually need.
Make sure kids are fully hydrated before they go outside. Have them drink a glass of water or a non-carbonated beverage one to two hours before going out, and then another ten to fifteen minutes before they go out to play.
When playing actively outside in hot weather, kids should be encouraged to drink regularly, every twenty to thirty minutes. Have them drink until they don’t feel thirsty anymore, and then if they are under ten years old have them drink another half-glass. If they are older than ten, have them drink another full glass.
In addition to dehydration, children who stay outside too long can suffer from heat exhaustion. This is characterized by fatigue, headaches and generalized discomfort and can be treated by getting the child into a cool area and having the child drink plenty of cool liquids.
Children may also develop heatstroke, a more serious condition which can lead to brain damage and death unless the body is immediately cooled. This condition is characterized by red, blue, or mottled looking skintone, a temperature of 105 degrees or higher, rapid pulse, headache, chills, nausea and a lack of perspiration and often requires medical attention.
To avoid these conditions, adhere to the following safety guidelines for hot weather play:
1. Don’t let kids stay out too long. Limit exposure between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is at it’s peak.
2. Protect skin with a sunblock of SPF15 or higher, and reapply often.
3. Dress children in light-colored cotton clothing that is loose fitting.
A few simple tips for parents to help keep kids safe and cool during this unusually warm weather.
- Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can occur rapidly in enclosed vehicles. Never leave your child unattended in a car. Children’s thermoregulatory systems warm three to five times faster than an adult’s.
- Always check to make sure all children leave the vehicle when you reach your destination. Don’t overlook sleeping infants. (TIP: Keep your child’s toy or diaper bag in the front passenger seat to help remind you the child is on board).
- On a 93-degree day, the inside of a car can exceed 125° degrees Fahrenheit in as little as 20 minutes. The temperature inside of a car is hotter than outside temperatures, and can climb rapidly.
- Heat stroke can occur in a matter of minutes for young children and infants. Keep children sufficiently hydrated and cool during the day.
- Cracking the windows enough to let in air is not an effective way to avoid the heat risks involved with leaving a child alone in a car on a hot day.
- Seek immediate emergency medical attention if you know or think that your child has been exposed to high temperatures by having been left in or accidentally trapped in a car.
- If your child gets locked inside a car, dial 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.
- An open or screened window in homes can be a danger to children. Falls from upper story windows related to the heat have been responsible for fatal child injuries in our state. Make sure to keep furniture away from windows, open windows from the top down if possible, and install child-safety window guards all help to prevent injury.