Hot-Weather Illness: Prevention
There are three main reactions a child might have during hot weather: heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. Mild heat reactions are caused by an excessive loss of water through sweating. Severe heat reaction can occur if high humidity interferes with sweating. To keep your child from having a heat-related illness, follow these suggestions:
- First: Make sure your child drinks lots of cool water. Water is ideal for replacing lost sweat. Very little salt is lost in sweat. Special glucose-electrolyte sports drinks such as Gatorade offer no advantage over water, unless your teenager has been exercising or working for over an hour. Avoid iced tea because caffeine accelerates water loss. Avoid sugary soft drinks because they slow down the absorption of water.
- Second: Do not give your child salt tablets. They're not necessary. They also slow down stomach emptying and delay the absorption of water, which the body badly needs.
- Third: Dress your child in a single layer of light-colored, lightweight clothing. Your child should change clothes if they become wet with perspiration because wet clothing interferes with sweating.
- Fourth: If your teenager must exercise or work during hot weather, have him take water breaks every 30 minutes in the shade. Encourage your teen to drink 8 ounces of water, even if he is not thirsty. He may not feel thirsty until he is almost dehydrated.
- Fifth: Athletic coaches recommend that exercise sessions be shortened and less vigorous if the air temperature is over 82 degrees, especially if the humidity is high.
- Finally: During heat waves, don't exercise or stand in the scorching sun. Stay out of hot cars. Spend your day in the coolest room of your house. Keep a fan running. Cool down in a cool bath or swimming pool. If it's too hot indoors, sit outdoors in the shade. As a last resort, go to an air-conditioned shopping mall.
If you have other questions about heat reactions, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 12/10/2006 11:32:13 AM
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.