52 American children died of heatstroke in cars last year. It’s a tragedy that reflects the fact that small children’s bodies can’t regulate their temperatures as well as older kids and adults. Little kids have both eccrine and apocrine sweat glands, but they don’t sweat as much as older kids and adults, so they don’t cool off as efficiently. That means that parents have to be conscious of heat safety for kids.
Kids who are outside having fun in hot Arkansas summers may not notice that they’re becoming overheated. If you see your child’s face getting red, it’s time to slow down a little and cool off in the shade before continuing to play.
Here are some steps that can help keep kids cool when it’s hot outside:
- Dress children in loose, lightweight clothing.
- Take breaks to cool off.
- Play in the shade.
- Schedule active play in the morning and in the evening, rather than in the hottest part of the day.
- When the temperature is in the 90s or higher, stay inside with air conditioning when possible.
It’s important to drink plenty of water to stay safe and healthy in hot weather. Sweating is the main way human beings keep from getting overheated. Small children don’t have this mechanism fully developed, but they still need fluids.
Water is the best fluid to provide for kids to drink. Even little children can get into the habit of drinking sweet or flavored drinks. This can lead kids to refuse water or to decide that they don’t like it. Research printed in the American Journal of Physiology suggests that soft drinks can actually lead to dehydration. Try to encourage kids to drink plain water.
Snacks with high levels of water, such as watermelon and cucumber, can also help keep kids hydrated. Celery stuffed with peanut butter and topped with raisins, also known as Ants on a Log, is another good choice.
Enjoy the summer, but take sensible precautions to keep kids safe and healthy when it’s hot.