After weeks of cold, wet, rainy weather here in the Midwest, summer has arrived with a vengeance. We sizzled through 90-degree temps on Memorial Day and there are more coming for the weekend.
It can be hard enough to deal with the heat yourself, but it poses special challenges for kids. Their bodies heat up at three to five times the rate ours do which puts them at greater risk for heat illnesses.
Heat illness ranges from heat cramps to heatstroke. Heat cramps are just what they sound like: pain in the legs, arms or abdomen which can happen during or after vigorous exercise in the heat (think a soccer game or an extended game of tag). Bring your child indoors or into the shade to cool off and make sure they drink plenty of fluids. My daughter's soccer teammates will empty their water bottles over their heads to cool off mid-game just like the pros, and gardener friends swear by a bandanna dipped in ice water around their necks.
Heat exhaustion is more dangerous. Kids can exhibit irritability, fatigue, headache, nausea or vomiting, weakness and hyperventilation.The same advice for heat cramps applies for heat exhaustion, but you should also give them a bath in cool water (not cold, because the shivering set off from being dunked in cold water will just raise their temperature even more). It's likely they won't need a trip to the ER, but give your doctor a call just in case.
Heatstroke is a serious, life-threatening emergency that requires immediate medical help. If they have flushed, hot, dry skin with no sweating, weakness, dizziness, or confusion, a severe headache, and a temperature of 105 or above, or if they lose consciousness, get them emergency help as quickly as possible.
Of course, you can avoid this by making sure your kids drink plenty of fluids (mine are never without a cup of water, milk, or a juice box within easy reach) and limit their outdoor play between noon and 6 pm. If you don't have air conditioning at home (we don't, and fans can only take you so far), a dip in a kiddie pool or even a run through the sprinkler can make you all a lot more comfortable; if neither of those are options, fill the sink with cold water and let them play. And there's always the library, the play area at the mall, or the movies to offer you air-conditioned comfort!
How do you beat the heat?