Hydration in the heat

Temperatures in the Mid-South are soon to start soaring. With summertime just around the corner, we asked Dr. Jay Pershad, an emergency medicine physician at Le Bonheur Children’s, his tips for keeping your children hydrated during the summer months.

How much should children drink to stay hydrated?
Especially during outdoor physical activity in the heat, children should drink freely and should not feel thirsty. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that during activities less than one hour, water alone is fine. Kids should always have water or a sports drink available and take a break to drink every 20 minutes while active in the heat.

Why are young children particularly susceptible to heat-related illness?
Young children and children with special needs are particularly susceptible to heat injuries because:

  • children have a decreased ability to sweat
  • infants and pre-verbal children (younger than 3-4 years old) cannot communicate their thirst and depend entirely on their adult caregivers for access to water

Keep in mind that prolonged exposure to a hot environment, a recent illness with mild dehydration, certain medications and even caffeinated drinks can contribute to increased risk of heat-related illness.

What else should parents keep in mind during the hot summer months?
The best thing parents need to practice during extreme heat is common sense. Young children don't need to be out in the heat at all if possible. However, if they must, keep it brief. Try to avoid being outside during the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Kids need to be hydrated, and parents should keep them drinking before they have a chance to get thirsty or begin to demonstrate signs of heat exhaustion. These include:

  • feeling weak and excessively tired
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • headache

Staying inside and hydration are the best forms of prevention.

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