These days, it seems each summer is hotter than the one before. Hot weather, even on cloudy days, can be dangerous, especially to kids. Heat stroke, or hyperthermia, is a serious threat, and thousands of cases appear each year in the U.S. Prepare yourself and your family by knowing, and watching out for these major signs of heat stroke or overheating.
It’s normal for kids to get out of breath when they’re playing outside, especially on a hot day. But if your child is having trouble catching their breath, wheezing, or experiencing chest pain, you need to seek medical attention or call 911 right away. These could all be signs of heat stroke. Bring them under shade or indoors and make them sit or lie down. Cool washcloths to the forehead and armpits can also help while you wait for help to arrive.
Nausea and/or Vomiting
During many cases of heat stroke, the patient becomes very nauseated and sometimes will vomit. If your child feels nauseous or begins to throw up, get them in the shade to cool off right away. Then get medical attention from your pediatric doctor.
Humans sweat in order to release excess heat. As the perspiration evaporates on our skin, it cools our bodies down. If a person is still in a hot environment but is no longer sweating, it is probably a sign of dehydration. You can’t sweat if your body can’t spare the fluid. Again, if you see this in your kids or anyone else, get them to a cool, shady place and let them drink some water. Then call 911 immediately.
Disorientation and difficulty controlling movements are major signs of hyperthermia. If your child exhibits difficulty speaking, seems disoriented or tired and finds it difficult to arise, or stumbles when they try to walk, it may be due to heat stroke. Have them lie down in a cool place and seek help from your pediatric doctor or other medical professional right away.
On a hot day, the last thing you expect is to feel chills, but many heat stroke victims have reported feeling cold during their hyperthermia. If a child reports feeling cold during a hot day outside, they may be suffering from heat stroke. Again, getting them out of the heat and seeking immediate medical attention is the best course of action.
How to Prevent Heat Stroke
Of course, the best cure is prevention. Avoid exposing your child to heat stroke in the first place by taking a few simple precautions. First, it’s essential that your kids are adequately hydrated. Humans lose water rapidly in hot conditions, so it’s a good idea to be almost constantly drinking fluids outside on a hot day. Sodas and fruit juices are not efficient at replacing lost water. Pure water or caffeine-free sports drinks are a much better idea.
Next, be sure that the kids take a ten to fifteen-minute break at least once an hour. The break should be in cool shade or indoors. Finally, insist that your kids take a longer break out of the heat at the first sign of exhaustion or lethargy.