Heat can trigger three major illnesses, says Dr. Eric Kirkendall of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. “Heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps are reactions caused by exposure to high temperatures combined with high humidity.”
The most serious reaction is heatstroke, which is a life-threatening emergency that should be treated immediately by parents and then by medical professionals. Symptoms can include hot, flushed skin, high fevers (over 104° F), confusion, and even seizures.
If you notice signs of heatstroke, call 911 immediately, cool off the child as quickly as possible by sponging the entire body with cool water, elevate feet to counteract shock and have the child drink cool, not cold water, while waiting for Emergency Medical Services to arrive, said Kirkendall. Do the same if treating the child for heat exhaustion, although it is not necessary to call 911 or a physician unless symptoms continue.
Heat exhaustion is less severe, but also requires medical attention. Symptoms include lots of sweating, nausea, dizziness, fainting or weakness. Heat cramps occur mostly in the child’s abdomen and legs, especially the calf or thigh muscles, but symptoms do not include a fever.
Parents can take many steps to keep children safe by keeping them hydrated with water, limiting their time outside during extremely hot weather and encouraging inside breaks when they do play outside, said Kirkendall. Click here for more information.