Jul 122012

As summer heat waves ramp up in parts of the world over the next few months, children are at a greater risk than adults of heat stroke. Here’s how to stay safe as the mercury rises.

“Kids’ bodies don’t acclimate to the heat as well adults,” said Jerold Stirling, chair of the department of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and pediatrician at Loyola University Health System, in a press release last week.

“They don’t sweat as effectively. They absorb more heat since they have smaller bodies and a higher ratio of surface area to body mass.”

The greatest danger? Leaving your child unattended in a car on a hot day. “No matter the child’s age this can be dangerous or even deadly,” he urges. “Even if it’s for a short period of time and you leave the car windows down it’s dangerous. Inside the car can be several degrees hotter than outside and places a child at greater risk for heat stroke or heat exhaustion.”

No matter where a child is or his or her age, according to Stirling, supervision and parental intervention are crucial when the temperatures reach these extreme levels.

“Kids are supposed to be out having fun,” adds Stirling. “They can get wrapped up in what they are doing and forget to take breaks. They’re also not as tuned in to their body’s cues.”

Encourage your kids to stay active, but keep a close eye on them, he adds, making sure they stay well hydrated before going outside and take frequent water and cooling off breaks. Even if children are swimming, make sure they stay hydrated. Usually water is the best option, while avoiding drinks that are carbonated, caffeinated, or caloric.

For infants and young children, keep an eye on the color of your child’s urine. If it’s dark yellow, it’s likely he or she is dehydrated.


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