Summertime: The Heat is On - My Family Travels

The Doctor updates you on specific precautions to take during the blistering heat of summer, especially when traveling with very young children.

Summer is the time when children can play so hard and so long that it hurts! Heat stroke takes place when the body’s internal temperature rises high enough to damage itself usually from over exertion in very hot weather. Although rare, heat stroke can cause imbalances in the body’s electrolytes (or natural salts), shut down the kidneys and cause shock or even death. Signs of extreme overheating include thirst, fatigue, flushed skin and feelings of dizziness.

At Risk: Infants and Toddlers

At special risk are infants, toddlers and children with chronic illnesses, such as heart and lung problems or diabetes. Children under 3 are especially sensitive to the sun because the surface area of their heads is large, relative to the rest of their bodies. If exposed to the sun, the head can absorb harmful amounts of heat. Therefore, little ones should always wear hats in hot, sunny weather. Very young children may not be able to verbalize their need for water. Remember to provide plenty of liquids.

Preventing Heat Stroke

To protect your children this summer, follow these simple common-sense precautions:

1). Never leave children inside an unattended car. Every summer children die of heat suffocation after hiding in a trunk, or being locked inside a car, where temperature can reach 150 degrees F.

2). Make sure infants get plenty of fluids. Serve older children sports drinks, or food with added salt to replace electrolytes that may be lost due to excessive sweating.

More Tips

1). Give children opportunities to cool off in cold — but not icy — water.

2). Have children play in shady areas and rest often.

3). In times of extreme heat, turn on air-conditioning at home, use fans, or visit movie theaters, restaurants or museums that are air-conditioned.

4). Light colored clothes absorb less heat than dark colors. Avoid clothes made of synthetic fibers; natural fibers allow the body to cool properly.

5). If a child shows signs of overheating, quickly take steps to cool her down with fluids or a cool bath. Any person who loses consciousness due to heat stroke should be taken immediately to the nearest emergency room.

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