Protecting Children From Extreme Heat

​Here in East Tennessee we are in the middle of a summer heat wave. As the summer season heats up, you’re probably planning trips to the beach, backyard barbecues and playground play dates. Heat can be especially hard on little ones. Extreme heat can cause children to become sick in several ways including: dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke.

Make sure to protect your child from the heat as much as possible, watch for symptoms, and call your pediatrician if you see any develop.

When to Call Your Pediatrician:

Call your pediatrician immediately if your child develops any of the following symptoms. Your pediatrician can advise you on the next best course of action and whether an immediate evaluation is needed.

  • Feeling faint

  • Extreme tiredness (e.g., unusually sleepy, drowsy, or hard to arouse)

  • Headache

  • Fever

  • Intense thirst

  • Not urinating for many hours

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Breathing faster or deeper than normal

  • Skin numbness or tingling

  • Muscle aches

  • Muscle spasms

Prevent the Effects of Extreme Heat:

When weather conditions do not pose a safety or individual health risk, children can and should play outdoors. A heat index at or above 90°F, as identified by the National Weather Service, poses a significant health risk. However, there are several steps you can take to beat the heat and protect your child from heat-related illness:

1. Find an air-conditioned space. If your home does not have air-conditioning, find a nearby building that does. Libraries can be a great place for a cool retreat from the heat. If you live in a place where the air-conditioning is unpredictable, plan in advance for a safe place for you and your family to go during times when the temperatures are high.

2. Stay hydrated. Encourage your children to drink water regularly and have it readily available—even before they ask for it. On hot days, infants receiving breast milk in a bottle can be given additional breast milk in a bottle, but they should not be given water—especially in the first six months of life. Infants receiving formula can be given additional formula in a bottle. See Signs of Dehydration in Infants & Children.

3. Dress lightly. Dress your children in clothing that is light-colored, lightweight, and limited to one layer of absorbent material that will maximize the evaporation of sweat. Kids have a lower capacity for sweating than adults.

4. Plan for extra rest time. Heat can often make children (and their parents) feel tired.

5. Cool off. When your child is feeling hot, give them a cool bath or water mist to cool down.

6. Prevent the effects of sun exposure, use Sunscreen and seek shade when possible.

7. Ask about policies. Talk to your child's caregiver, camp, coach or child care provider about their policies for protecting your children throughout the day—especially during outdoor play or exercise. ​

Call 423-439-7320 or click HERE to learn more about our Pediatric Department.

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