Summer days mean increased outdoor activities for young children and adolescents. But before you send your children out to play, it’s important to understand the dangers that rising heat indexes can bring. Children and teens are especially susceptible to certain heat-related illnesses during the hot summer months. Parents, here are some crucial steps you can take to keep your children safe and healthy while preventing these common conditions this summer.
Top Summertime Health and Safety Concerns
Dehydration occurs when a person loses more water than they take in. While anyone can become dehydrated, children are more at risk. In adults, water makes up about 50-60% of our bodies. For young children and babies, water makes up 65% and 78% of their bodies, respectively.
Additionally, children are more likely to engage in physical activity that causes dehydration and may not understand that their body needs water, even if they are not thirsty. With this in mind, some of the signs to be mindful of include a sticky or dry mouth, few or no tears when crying, urinating less often than usual, fatigue, irritability, and dry, cool skin.
In Southern California, sunburns are a year-round risk. However, they occur more frequently during the summer months because the UV index is higher during this time. Additionally, children inherently spend more time outdoors and wear clothing that leaves more surface area of their skin exposed to burns from the sun.
While many sunburns are mild and will heal within a week, others can be more severe and cause painful blistering, severe swelling, dehydration, and even infections. Repeated sunburns also increase the risk of a person developing skin cancer.
Sweat is the body’s natural tool for cooling you down. If your child is overexerting in hot conditions or is in an extremely hot environment, their body may not be able to produce enough sweat to regulate their temperature and they may experience heat stroke. According to Healthline, infants and children under the age of 4 are more likely to experience this condition than other groups.
Also known as hyperthermia, heat stroke is the most serious form of heat illness and occurs when a person’s core body temperature is above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, causing their internal organs to swell. Some of the warning signs include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, shallow breathing, behavioral changes, seizures, and unconsciousness.
Keeping Your Children Safe Despite These Risks
Understanding the most common heat-related illnesses during summer, as well as their warning signs, is the first step toward prevention. Additionally, parents and caregivers should implement the following safety precautions during this time of year:
- Keep Your Kids Hydrated. Ensure that children are drinking water consistently throughout the day; keep water or fluids visible to them so that they remember to drink frequently.
- Always Wear Sunscreen. Put a broad-spectrum sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF on your child in the morning, and reapply it every two hours; you should do so even if you plan on staying inside during the day, as ultraviolet (UV) rays can still penetrate your windows.
- Never Leave Children Alone in Hot Cars. Fatal heat-related illnesses can occur when it’s just above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and leaving the windows cracked does not prevent the temperature from rising to a dangerous level.
- Wear the Right Clothing. Have your child wear loose, lightweight, and light-colored clothing when outside; this will reduce the risk of your child overheating.
- Avoid Outdoor Activities During the Hottest Periods of the Day. Avoid doing activities that are outdoors during hottest times of the day; typically, this is between 12 and 4 p.m.
- Take Breaks from the Sun. If you are outdoors for any reason during the day, ensure that your child takes breaks from the sun either indoors or in a cooler, shaded area.
- If Needed, Seek Medical Treatment. If your child is exhibiting any signs of heat stroke, you should call 9-1-1 or transport them yourself to a local emergency room. Without prompt medical attention, heat stroke can be fatal.
We Are Here If You Need Us
At Effres & Effres, our goal is to help you and your family stay safe and healthy in spite of the unique risks that arise throughout the year. Additionally, our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys provide legal services to those who have been injured due the negligence of others.
If you would like to learn more about your options or have any questions about a potential case, you can count on our team to provide you with the personalized legal insight and guidance you need.
Contact our team at (818) 222-9720 to schedule a free case evaluation today.