Sun and Heat Safety
Heat exhaustion and heat strokes in children can be dangerous. In fact in the United States approximately 40 children under the age of 15 die each year due to heat related causes.
Children can suffer from heat related illnesses if they are exposed to very hot temperatures, are dehydrated, are exercising strenuously in hot conditions or simply wearing far too many clothes in hot weather. High humidity levels make the problems more likely to occur.
Heat exhaustion is less serious than heat stroke but needs treating quickly to stop it developing further. With heat exhaustion, body temperature tends to rise towards 40C with shallow breathing and heavy sweating. Children are especially vulnerable since their bodies do not dissipate heat as effectively as adults. Dehydration often occurs due to the sweating leading to headaches , dizziness, tiredness and extreme thirstiness etc.
Heat stroke is much more serious and occurs when the child's body temperature rises above 40C which causes vital internal body parts to start malfunctioning. This is potentially life threatening and your child is likely to start becoming disoriented and maybe start to lose consciousness. Spotting this quickly is extremely important.
Read the tips below to help keep your child safe from heat related illnesses.
Sun and Heat Safety Tips
- Take your child's temperature if you have access to a temperature monitor. Anything 40C or above is critical.
- Try to make sure your children are aware to go slow when it is hot and not to over-exercise
- If your child is suffering from heat exhaustion seek medical advice straight away. Also a sports drink such as still (non-fizzy) Gatorade and moving your child to a cool area, removing excess clothing and then resting is a good starting point but certainly call an ambulance immediately if your child appears confused or starts doing strange things. Cooling via a cool bath or shower is recommended but supervise carefully.
- In heat waves it is very important to constantly monitor younger children and make sure they are fully hydrated, wearing sensible loose clothing and not over exposed to the sun or exercising too heavily.
- Never leave children in cars in hot weather (don't ever do it even in cold weather anyway from a safety perspective!) since the internal temperature can really climb. Also make sure they do not have access to cars, car boots/trunks, summer houses / greenhouses / sheds that could have a similar issue.
- Don't over-clothe children in the sun but make sure they wear sun hats and sun cream and keep in the shade, staying out of the sun at the hottest part of the day.
- In extreme weather, consider not going out at all.
- Ensure your child drinks plenty of water and in high heat conditions, a sports drink such as still (non-fizzy) Gatorade to replace electrolytes.
- Frequent breaks should be taken in a cool shaded area or preferably in an air conditioned area during activities in the sun to give the body a chance to cool down and allow time for rehydration
This is a great not-for-profit website that gives lots of information for both parents and educators on sun safety. There are skin protection ideas, the ABCs of Sun Protection for Children, a Sun Safety Newsletter and more.