Friedman Group

Keep your family safe from heat illness this summer

June 19, 2019

As summer approaches and the number of hot days increases, you have to pay attention to the temperature gauge and how long your kids are out playing in the sun. 

Heat illness kills hundreds of Americans every year, and it is the number one weather-related killer. Also, heatstroke is the top cause of exercise-related deaths among high school students.  

But that doesn't mean you should keep the kids indoors during the summer. There are steps you can take to reduce the chances of getting heat illness.

What you can do

Preventing heat illness among young children and teens is difficult because they often do not recognize the symptoms.

But there are steps you can take to protect them when they are outside in the summer:

  • If it's scorching outside, the kids should stay inside. If that's not possible, plan your activities around cooler times of the day, like before 10am and after 4pm.
  • If your child is an athlete, counsel them not to push through when they are having a hard time in the heat or if they are getting thirsty. The days of playing tough when it's hot are over after countless teens have died on the football field in late summer months.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more, and apply this every hour.
  • Take water breaks every 15 or 20 minutes. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, such as water or an electrolyte-enhanced drink like Gatorade.
  • Take frequent rest breaks in a cool and shady area. 

Also, if you have a child who is on prescription drugs or has some type of chronic condition, talk to your doctor about them playing outdoors.

Recognizing heat illness

Heat cramps

Heat cramps are the first stage of heat illness. Symptoms include muscle pain and tightness. 

What to do:

  • Move to a cooler area, out of direct sunlight.
  • Gently massage the cramping muscle.
  • Stretch the muscle gently.
  • Drink cool water or sports drinks every 15 minutes.

 

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Mild confusion
  • Fast heart rate or breathing
  • Headache
  • Extreme thirst
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pale skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Fainting 

What to do:

  • Move to a cooler area, out of direct sunlight.
  • Loosen clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet towels to your face, neck, chest, and limbs.
  • Have someone fan your skin.
  • Drink cool water or sports drinks every 15 minutes.
  • Don't drink too quickly. 

Heatstroke

With heatstroke, all the symptoms of heat exhaustion may be present, plus:

  • Body temperature over 104°F
  • Irrational behavior or hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dry skin 

What to do:

Call 911 or take the person to the emergency room immediately, and:

  • Move the person to a cooler area, out of direct sunlight.
  • Loosen clothing.
  • Remove any sweaty clothing.
  • Apply cool, wet towels to the face, neck, chest, and limbs.
  • Apply ice, if you have it, to the underarms, wrists, and groin.
  • Fan the person's skin.
  • Offer cool water or sports drinks every 15 minutes if the person is conscious.

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