You spend a whole day outdoors and it's no surprise that your kiddo is wiped, right? Right. We encourage our children — especially in the summertime — to play outside and get some fresh air. In trying our best to get the kids out of the house, away from video games, and playing with nature, we put them at risk of one of the heat-related dangers many parents don't even know about: heatstroke.
Read through to find out everything you need to know about heatstroke and to learn the warning signs and prevention methods.
What is heatstroke?
Heatstroke, or heat exhaustion, is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body becomes overheated and its ability to cool down is impaired. Children and babies are especially susceptible to heatstroke, especially when dressed too warmly or outdoors in the sun for an extended period of time (or if left in a parked car, which you should never do).
How do I know if my child has it?
It's easy to think that your child is just exhausted after a long day in the sun — and to an extent that's true — but there are additional signs to look out for that can alert you to the fact that something may actually be wrong.
Normal symptoms of being in the sun:
- Heavy sweating, beet-red face, but still a happy appearance
- Rapid heartbeat, breathing hard
- Being very thirsty
- Feeling hot to the touch
- Stitches or muscle cramps
Symptoms of heatstroke to look out for:
- A temperature of 103 degrees or higher
- Feeling cold despite fever
- Hot, red/pink, dry skin
- Rapid pulse
- Restlessness or irritability
- Dizziness or headache
- Rapid, shallow breathing
How is heatstroke treated?
Once heatstroke sets in, it's important to work fast to cool your child down before they potentially lose consciousness. If you're still outside, get them into the shade, but do your best to get to a cool room or cool water. Call their doctor — or if they are exhibiting multiple signs, call an ambulance or take them to the ER — and keep them calm. Undress them, give them a cold bath, apply ice packs, or soak a rag in cold water and sponge them down repeatedly. Do not give them any water unless they are alert and acting normally.
How do I prevent heatstroke from ever happening?
Keep your child hydrated and in loose, light, and breathable clothing all Summer long. Stay indoors, preferably in air conditioning, when possible, and limit playing outside to short periods of time with plenty of water and shade breaks peppered in. Do your best to avoid active play in the sun during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).