While the summertime is perfect for kiddos to run around and soak up the sun — overheating is a very real danger.
The director of outreach and Emergency Medicine physician at Children’s National Hospital, Dr. Sarah Combs, has a few things parents can look out for to keep their kiddos safe this summer.
“First, check the heat index, which factors in humidity as well as the overall temperature. Avoid exercising outdoors on days when it is particularly high,” says Combs.
“On moderately hot days when you and your children are outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothes, and don’t forget sun hats and sunscreen. When playing outdoor sports, make sure your child takes frequent breaks for rest, cooling off, and hydration.”
And while you may feel just fine on summer days — this doesn’t alwasy mean your child feels the same.
“Because of their unique physiology, children are more susceptible to temperature extremes and their health effects,” explained the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Children are less able to regulate their body temperature compared with adults.”
“A child’s body surface area makes up a much greater proportion of their overall weight than an adult’s, which means children face a much greater risk of dehydration and heat-related illness,” according to WebMD.
So what are the warning signs to look out for? We are glad you asked!
The first thing parents should look out for is if their kiddos are thirstier than usual.
“Remember that feeling thirsty is actually a sign that you are already mildly dehydrated. So, make sure your child is drinking water regularly throughout their time outdoors,” says Combs.
In addition, it’s important to monitor if your child is acting fatigued at all — especially in the sun.
“Lethargy — non-responsiveness — can be seen in heatstroke, the most severe form of heat-induced illness. This is a true medical emergency. Call 911 or proceed directly to your nearest Emergency Room,” Combs says. If your child is feeling feverish, this is also a sign they could be burning up.
Untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition that occurs when your core body temperature reaches 104 degrees F (40 C) or higher,” reported the Mayo Clinic.
Last but not least, if they are feeling nauseated, they absolutely need to be out of the heat and fully hydrated.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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