In generations past, parents used to send their children outside to play in nearly all types of weather. Rain or shine, sleet or snow, kids ran, biked, and swam in extreme conditions.
When summer hits and temperatures soar, however, children are especially vulnerable to excessive heat. Common illnesses include heat stroke and dehydration. Although studies have shown that kids are no more likely to suffer a heat-related injury than an adult, children are also less likely to recognize the symptoms of these types of illnesses.
What Is Heatstroke?
Heat stroke is defined as a dramatic elevation of body temperature, or hyperthermia, caused by the body’s inability to dissipate heat in extreme temperatures.
According to ABC News, certain behaviors contribute to heat-related injuries in children, including:
- Excessive physical exertion
- Neglecting to properly recover between bouts of physical activity
- Improper dress
Failure to properly recover is a major concern in the United States, where children often participate in sports that require them to exercise outdoors twice in a single day with little rest time between sessions. There have been many reports of teenage athletes collapsing after rigorous training sessions. In on tragic case, a young boy died following a collapse after a football game.
Visit ABC News here to learn more.
What Is Dehydration?
Dehydration is the result of more fluids leaving the body than entering it. Unsurprisingly, heat stroke and dehydration often go hand in hand.
Preventing Heat Stroke and Dehydration
Fortunately, parents’ attitudes toward their children exercising in extremely hot weather have changed. The medical community has also spread the word about the inherent dangers of playing and working outside when the temperature turns sweltering.
One of the best defenses to heat stroke and dehydration is prevention. Parents should avoid placing undue expectations on teachers or coaches to supervise their children at all times. Furthermore, sports coaches may inadvertently push children to exercise harder or for a longer period of time. When coaches and other adults fail to look out for the safety of the children under their control, there can be devastating consequences.
Parents can address this risk by educating their children about the signs and symptoms of heat stroke and dehydration. Kids should understand that they are allowed to take breaks as needed. If they feel tired or sick, they should find a quiet place to rest. Children should also understand that they must contact either a parent or an emergency contact if they suddenly feel sick during practice.
Read more about the dangers of dehydration here.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke and Dehydration
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a number of telltale signs that indicate heat stroke:
- Extremely high body temperature
- Hot, red, dry, or moist skin
- Rapid and strong pulse
- Extreme thirst
Once you have determined your child is at risk for either heat stroke or dehydration, it is important to get medical treatment as soon as possible.
Treating Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a very serious condition. Left untreated, it can cause victims to pass away unexpectedly. As soon as you suspect your child has heat stroke, you can begin treating your child until emergency workers arrive.
- Move the child into a cool room
- Loosen clothing
- Open windows to get air flowing and improve ventilation
- Ask the child to drink some cool water
- Cover exposed skin with cool, damp towels
- Massage the skin to improve blood circulation
- Cancel remaining activities
Remedying dehydration is relatively straightforward. To help your child recover from the effects of dehydration, introduce fluids slowly. Your child might want to gulp down water, but this can actually make a bad situation worse. It is best to replace a child’s fluids with an electrolyte solution rather than pure water.
Electrolyte drinks replenish the essential vitamins lost during an episode of dehydration. Moreover, electrolytes are critical in situations where a child has experienced diarrhea or vomiting due to dehydration. Experts recommend avoiding sports drinks due to their sugar content.
Read More about treating dehydration here.
By teaching children to recognize the signs of weather-related injuries and learning how to treat them, parents can ensure their children enjoy their favorite sports and outdoor activities this summer.
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