As temperatures rise and we find ourselves spending more time outdoors with children this summer, it’s important to remember that high temperatures and too much time in the heat can have negative effects on your child’s body. Here are some tips on preventing heat related illness in children.
HYDRATION: Staying hydrated is one of the most important things we can do to prevent heat related illness. It is essential to give your child water frequently while they are outside on a hot day. Many children may not ask for water while they are playing outdoors, but it’s important to provide children with water even if they don’t ask for it. Additional and frequent hydration with water or sports beverages is especially crucial while children are playing sports or exercising. Infants less than 6 months of age should not be given water, but they can be given extra breastmilk or formula to keep them hydrated.
SUN PROTECTION: Protecting your children from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays is also important. Dress your child in lightweight and light-colored clothing. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can offer additional protection. Keep children in the shade as much as possible and try to avoid exposure to direct sunlight on very hot days, especially during the sun’s most intense hours (between 10 AM and 4 PM).
Apply sunscreen that is at least SPF 15 to any areas of your child’s skin that are not protected by clothing. Using sunscreen that says “broad spectrum” or UVA/UVB protection is ideal. Sunscreen should be applied at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen on cloudy days as well, as the sun’s rays are still present.
Infants less than 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight as much as possible. If you do take young infants outdoors, be sure to keep their skin protected with lightweight clothing and a hat and to keep them in the shade. You can apply a small amount of sunscreen to your infant’s exposed skin if needed.
STAY COOL: Staying indoors in a location with air conditioning is a great way to beat the heat on days when temperatures are extremely high. If you do not have air conditioning available in your home, think about going to a public location such as a library, museum, or mall. This is a great way to engage in a fun activity for the day while still staying cool. Additionally, a cool bath or shower may help cool your child down on a hot day.
MONITOR: While prevention is the key, it is also important to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If your child exhibits any of these signs or symptoms, speak to your child’s pediatrician or take them to be evaluated by a physician immediately.
•High body temperature
Following these tips will ensure a fun and healthy summer and will help you beat the heat!
From the Real Experts at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone:
Kavita Patel, MD, is a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone.