Florida summers are known for sweltering heat. While this does not stop most of us from spending afternoons outside, it can become dangerous very quickly. Heat cramps and heat exhaustion often lead to heat stroke, which can sometimes lead to death. Children and pets can be in danger of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and may not know how to tell you. Here are the signs to look for, and ways to stay safe in the heat.
1. Heat cramps are often the first sign that your body is having trouble dealing with the heat. Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually will occur in the legs or abdomen and are caused by exposure to high heat and loss of electrolytes. If you child is complaining of cramps and soreness, try to keep them hydrated with drinks like Gatorade, which replaces electrolytes.
2. Heat exhaustion and heat strokes often occur when the body can no longer cool itself with sweat. When you notice that your child has stopped sweating, and their skin is becoming increasingly hot and dry, cool them off immediately by splashing cool water on them and taking them to a cooler, more shaded area.
3. Another sign of heat stroke is confusion. If your child seems addled or confused, or even becomes increasingly upset, it is important to bring your child to a cooler area immediately. Try to test them by asking how old they are, what their name is, or who their favorite pet is to gauge their level of confusion.
4. Dehydration is often the most preventable symptom of heat exhaustion. Make sure that your kids and pets are drinking water throughout the day, not just when they are thirsty.
5. Make sure to dress your children in loosely fitting clothing, with a hat that will provide shade. This can prevent the child from overheating too quickly.
6. If your child begins vomiting or loses consciousness, call 911 immediately. Quickly move the child to a cooler place to wait for emergency assistance.
Acting quickly at the first sign of these symptoms can prevent frightening and dangerous situations. For more information, visit www.sjbhealth.org.