We know that Texas is hot, but the record-breaking temperatures we’ve faced and are likely to continue facing this summer are not just irritating; they’re dangerous. In fact, July 4 was the hottest day in Earth’s history.
On this hottest day, several children overheated and were treated by medical personnel at Plano’s All American 4th celebration. With the heat cranking back up into the hundreds next week, Children’s Health experts are urging parents to keep several tips in mind when playing outside:
For families with babies, Children’s Health suggests parking the baby’s stroller or blanket under a tree or shady spot, dressing the baby in a single layer of lightly-colored, breathable material, offering breastmilk or formula to keep infants hydrated until at least six months of age when water can be offered and planning to take the baby out in the early morning or late evening hours when it is cooler.
“This temperature and humidity combination is the kind of weather that will catch you off guard,” Daniel Daly, public information officer for Plano Fire-Rescue, said. “If you feel thirsty, you are already behind on your fluids; drink water all day, even when you don’t think you need to.”
To avoid heat exhaustion, Children’s Health experts encourage parents to familiarize themselves with the signs of heat-related illnesses such as:
- elevated body temperature, usually between 100 and 104 degrees
- cool, clammy skin despite the heat
- fainting, dizziness or weakness
- increased sweating and thirst
- muscle cramps
- nausea or vomiting
Children who are overweight, obese, taking certain medications, have a sunburn or are sick are at a higher risk for heat exhaustion. If the child shows symptoms of heat exhaustion, they should be brought to a cool, shaded place, encouraged to drink fluids that contain salt, treated with a cold, wet towel or sponge to the skin and gently stretched if the child is complaining of painful muscle cramps in the legs, arms or abdomen.
If the child has a temperature above 104 degrees, is not sweating, is confused or disoriented, has flushed, hot and dry skin, has lost consciousness, is experiencing nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, has a severe headache, seizures and weakness or dizziness, the child may be experiencing heat stroke. Heat stroke is a medical emergency, and the child should be brought indoors or into the shade, undressed and applied to rapid cooling by immersing in water if possible. Children’s Health experts warn not to push fluids until the child is conscious and alert.
Studies show that about 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from vehicular heatstroke. To prevent hot car deaths, Children’s Health experts recommend placing an important item in the backseat to get into the habit of checking the backseat, checking the car before exiting the vehicle, always keeping your vehicle locked and dialing 911 immediately if you see a child alone in a car.
Children should also be protected by sunscreen with a broad-spectrum coverage that is water resistant, has a SPF of 30 or higher and contains zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Children’s Health recommends that children’s sunscreen be applied daily for those older than 6 months of age starting 30 minutes before the child is exposed to the sun and reapplied every two hours. The experts warn against spray sunscreen, which could put the child at risk of breathing in harmful chemicals when sprayed.