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Keeping Kids Cool When It's Hot

They need help staying hydrated when the temperature rises

SATURDAY, May 29, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Excessive heat can take its toll on all of us, but children are really at risk.

Their less efficient cooling systems give them a reduced ability to lose heat through sweating and, like adults, they often will lack the drive to drink enough water to replenish whatever fluid is lost during exercise, says the American Medical Association.

Such factors not only make children more susceptible to heat cramps when they haven't been drinking enough fluids, but they can also be at greater risk for the more serious heat exhaustion and the life-threatening heatstroke.

Resting the child in a cool place, massaging the cramped muscles and giving them fluids can usually ease the heat cramps.

For heat exhaustion, the symptoms include dehydration, fatigue, weakness, nausea and clammy skin. Again, children should be taken to a cool place, cooled off with a bath or shower, and encouraged to drink fluids.

If the child is too exhausted or ill to eat or drink, appears disoriented or confused, or has a temperature above 105 degrees, the exhaustion could have elevated to heatstroke and medical assistance should be sought immediately, recommends the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC urges teaching children to drink before physical activity, as well as during and after, because by the time you feel thirsty, your body is already dehydrated.

For the younger ones, parents are warned never to leave children in hot places such as cars. Experts say that when the temperature outside is 93 degrees, the temperature inside a vehicle can soar to a 125 degrees within just 20 minutes, posing a high risk to children.

More information

The American Medical Association offers this tip sheet for preventing heat illness in children and adults.

SOURCES: American Medical Association; U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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