With temperatures in the 90’s in 43 of the 50 USA states it is important that parents take some extra precautions to prevent heat related illness, injury and fatality to their children. Two of the most common heat illnesses are dehydration and heat stroke.
Dehydration and heat strokes are two of the most common heat-related diseases. Dehydration occurs when a person loses water and body salts from overexposure to the sun or heat, and they fail to drink enough water. Symptoms of dehydration can include thirst, less-frequent urination, dry skin, fatigue, dizziness, dry mouth and increased heart rate and breathing.
In most cases of early detection, dehydration can be treated by rehydrating the body by drinking fluids. Sports drink can help to restore electrolytes and salt balance. Dehydration can be prevented by drinking plenty of liquids and by refraining from outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day from 11am to 3pm.
Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness and is a life-threatening emergency. It results from long and extreme exposure to the sun, when individuals don’t sweat enough to cool the body. The condition develops quickly and symptoms may include headache, dizziness, disorientation, agitation, sluggishness or fatigue, seizure, loss of consciousness and hallucinations.
A heat stroke may cause permanent mental and physical damage and must be treated immediately. While waiting for help, treatment includes: getting a person to a shaded area, removing clothing and applying cool water to skin while fanning, applying ice packs to groin and armpits, and lying down while elevating feet. Preventative methods include, drinking water in lieu of caffeinated drinks, wearing lightweight clothing in light colors, a hat, sunglasses and an umbrella and gradually increasing your time spent outdoors to allow the body to become accustomed to the increased summer heat.
Some general tips for making outdoor experiences safe and pleasurable include:
- Never leave a child (or pet) in the car for any period of time if you are not with them.
- Use sunscreen on exposed skin regularly and when possible even apply to skin that is covered with clothing since some harmful UV rays can still penetrate.
- Provide loads of liquids, especially water to your child. Keep them drinking! Remember that even though they may be in a pool or water that they still need to drink.
- Use Hats and Sunglasses
- You may need to replenish electrolytes periodically by having your child drink sports drinks.
I was surprised to learn from NOAH ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) that:
Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year. In fact, on average, excessive heat claims more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. In the disastrous heat wave of 1980, more than 1,250 people died. In the heat wave of 1995 more than 700 deaths in the Chicago area were attributed to heat. In August 2003, a record heat wave in Europe claimed an estimated 50,000 lives.
Summer can be great fun, but remember that it can also be dangerous when we have excessive temperatures.