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Safety & Prevention

Extreme heat can cause children to become sick in several ways. Make sure to protect your child from the heat as much as possible, watch for symptoms, and call your doctor if you see any develop.

Preventing Effects of Extreme Heat:

There are several steps you can take to protect your child from heat-related illness: 

  • Plan to have a cool, air-conditioned space for your child. 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. 
  • Make sure your child stays hydrated. Encourage her to drink water regularly, even before she asks for it.
  • Plan for more time to rest than usual; heat can often make children feel tired.
  • When your child is feeling hot, give him a cool bath or water mist to cool down.
  • Don’t forget about the effects of sun exposure.
  • Never leave children in a car or other closed motor vehicle, especially when temperatures are high. The temperature inside the car can become much higher than the outside temperature, and can rise to temperatures that cause death.

Potential Health Effects:

Extreme heat can make children sick in many ways, including:

  • Dehydration
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat stroke

When to Call Your Child’s Doctor:

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

  • Faintness
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Intense thirst
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Breathing faster or deeper than normal
  • Skin numbness or tingling
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle spasms

For more information on how recognize and treat these heat related illnesses, click here.

Psychological Effects:

Don’t forget about your child’s mental health, as well. Children may become anxious or restless from being kept indoors. Plan ahead for entertainment with indoor activities and games, and limit the amount of time spent watching television.

Children may become fearful or stressed from effects of the heat. For example, seeing dead animals or wildlife may be distressing. Reassure your child that many people are working to resolve the situation and keep them safe. Children take their cues from their parents and the environment, so remember to keep calm and answer their questions openly and honestly. Keep in mind not to share more than is appropriate for their age.

Additional Resources:

Heat Tolerance

Heat Related Illnesses

Exercise-Related Heat Illness

Extreme Temperature Exposure

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke (Audio)

Summer Safety Tips

Getting Ready for the Worst

Extreme Heat Media Toolkit (CDC)

U.S. Drought Portal (National Integrated Drought Information System)

 

Last Updated
8/7/2013
Source
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2012)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

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