Heat Advisory: Understanding Heat Stroke & How To Keep Your Kids Safe
Your kids have been cooped up all summer playing video games and now they want to go outside and play finally.
But are they ready for the hottest part of the year?
Locally, the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory that remains in effect until 8 p.m. Saturday. Daily temperatures will range between 94 to 102 degrees, with a heat index between 105 to 109 degrees.
So while you don't want your children to waste their summer vacation away playing video games inside, warm summer temperatures can lead to more than just a sunburn. Being outdoors in the heat for too long can pose a heat-safety risk.
"As the outside temperature rises, your family's risk of heat stroke rises right along with it," Dr. Warmink said. "On 100-degree days, it's best to stay inside when it gets that hot. If temperatures exceed 90 degrees, stay in the shade and keep an extra eye on the kids."
Children today are spending increasing amounts of time in air conditioned environments, lured indoors by the constant upkeep of social media accounts and online gaming. One study of nearly 9,000 U.S. children, ages 3 to 5 years old, found that only half were taken outside by their parents on a daily basis to walk or play.
"The more you're out in the heat, the more your body gets used to it, or 'acclimatizes,'" Dr. Warmink said. "Children who are always inside are more prone to heat exhaustion and heatstroke than those who are frequently outdoors and active."
Play it cool
But don't mistake what Dr. Warmink is saying. Too much time out in the heat can cause heat-related illnessess such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Lack of acclimatization has led to an uptick in heat illness among children in recent years, according to Dr. Warmink. Most incidents occur during the first two weeks of school athletics training when kids begin cross country, football, cheerleading or band practice.
"More is being demanded of young athletes during the late summer months," Dr. Warmink said. "Kids who spend all summer indoors and then go out for training in August are setting themselves up for heat illness."
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include flu-like symptoms such as paleness, sweating, nausea and vomiting. Signs of heatstroke include hot, red and dry skin, as well as confusion, vomiting, rapid heart rate, decreased sweating, shortness of breath, decreased urination, increased body temperature (104 to 106 degress Farenheight), or convulsions.
Every summer, police, fire departments and MedStar respond to calls where a child is left in a hot car. Too often, these calls end in tragedy! In 2017, 25 children in the United States have died as a result of being left in a hot car. Seven of those childen were in Texas. DO NOT leave children unattended in cars and be sure your vehicles are secured to prevent a curious child from becoming trapped in the car on a hot day.
MedStar reminds us that heatstroke and heat exhaustion are common this time of year, but they can be easily prevented:
- Hydrate: Drink plenty of water during the day, especially if you are engaged in any strenuous activity. Sports drinks are a good choice if you're exercising or working in hot conditions, but water is a good way to hydrate as well.
- Ventilate: Stay in a place where there is plenty of air circulating to keep your body cool. If you are indoors and don't have access to air conditioning, open windows and use a fan.
- Cover Up: Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing to avoid absorbing the sun's light and trapping heat. Wear a hat to shield yourself from the sun, but once you feel yourself getting warm, remove any items covering your head which can trap heat close to your body.
- Limit Activity: Heatstroke can occur in less than an hour when you are participating in strenuous activity during a hot day. If you feel yourself getting hot or light-headed, stop your activity and rest in a cool place out of the sun. Be sure to drink water or a sports drink before, during, and after any strenuous activity.
- Check on Loved One’s: MedStar reminds families to make sure that your child's grandparents are OK. The elderly are especially vulnerable to heat related emergencies. Many elderly residents are not aware of how hot it may get in their residence. Call on older friends and family members regularly to assure they are doing OK.
About the source
Corwin Warmink, M.D., is the medical director of Emergency Services at Cook Children's. Cook Children's Emergency services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cook Children's Emergency Department (ED) treats more than 105,000 patients every year. Our ED is the only EMS-designated pediatric trauma center in Tarrant County.