From the calendar
Heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and stroke, occur in hot temperatures when the body is unable to cool itself through sweat. High temperatures, humid weather, warm clothing and physical exertion can all contribute to and put you at risk for heat-related illnesses, said Robert "Bo" Kennedy, emergency room pediatrician at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
The good news: "A child that is mobile and verbal is probably at less risk for heat-related illnesses, because kids are smarter than adults; they'll tell you they're getting too hot and they need something to drink," Kennedy said.
"It's in the teenage and adult years that people tend to push themselves to the point where they get into trouble," he said. Babies, because they can't tell you they are over-heating, are also at greater risk for heat-related illness.
Regardless of age, parents need to make sure kids are getting plenty of water or other fluids. While doctors generally discourage sugary drinks, when it's hot out, Kennedy said, a flavored drink might encourage kids to drink in higher volumes. Taking regular heat breaks, either indoors or in the shade, is also encouraged.
If a child starts to feel fatigued in the heat, its especially important to encourage the child to take a break from activity, have a drink and rest in the shade before resuming activity.
If a child stops sweating or starts feeling chills even though its hot, these are clear warning signs of heat stroke and immediate action is needed, Dr. Kennedy said. Confusion is also a warning sign of heat stroke. If this happens, emergency medical attention is needed.
Also, care should be taken in vehicles. An enclosed car without air conditioning is "overwhelmingly too hot" for anyone, Kennedy said. Children should never be left alone in a car, especially an enclosed car where temperatures can quickly reach 150 degrees. (More on heat-related illness and cars.)
Learn more about the warning signs and treatment for heat cramps, exhaustion and stroke on the St. Louis Children's Hospital website.