Preventing Pediatric Heat Stroke
By Odochi Nwagwu, MD
June 25, 2021
Category: Child Safety
Climate change has certainly caused the temperatures to climb here in the US, especially during the summer. While we know that kids love to play outdoors, when temperatures are high this could increase your child’s risk for heat exhaustion and heatstroke. While we certainly don’t want to wreck your child’s fun, you must be keeping your child safe from the heat. If you do have any concerns about symptoms, don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician right away.
Any temperature over 90F poses a serious health risk, especially to kids. When temperatures are at or above 90F here’s what you can do to keep your little ones safe:
Find an air-conditioned environment: If you don’t have AC in your home, it’s important to find a space that does. Make an action plan for where you can go if the temperatures become so high that you cannot safely stay in your home. You may need to stay with someone who does have AC or find free spaces such as a public library, which should also have AC.
Drink (lots of) water: You and your children must be also drinking enough water, especially on those super-hot days. While kids should normally get eight 8-oz glasses of water if a child is particularly active or it’s hot out, they must be drinking even more water to replenish what’s being lost.
Infants who are still breastfeeding should also be given additional breast milk, especially if they are under 6 months old. It’s also important to recognize the warning signs of dehydration in kids. If your child or infant is showing these warning signs, you need to call your pediatrician right away.
Wear the appropriate clothes: Just as you need a coat and gloves to protect your skin during the cold winter months, you also need to wear the appropriate clothes for those brutally hot days. Make sure your child is wearing light-colored clothes made from lightweight, absorbent materials that will wick away sweat. Since kids are less likely to sweat than adults, it’s important to keep them in the coolest and lightest clothes possible.
Stay cool: Whether jumping through the sprinkler system or simply hopping in a cold shower, there are easy steps you can take to help your child cool down when they complain of being too hot! If there is a swimming pool nearby, this is also a great and fun way to keep cool.
Whether you have questions about keeping your child safe during the summer months or you simply need to schedule their next well-child visit, a pediatrician is going to be the first doctor you turn to for your child’s health and wellbeing. Keeping your child safe this summer doesn’t have to be difficult, but if you have questions or concerns don’t hesitate to call.