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Kids at high risk for heat related illness

Infants and small children are among those at highest risk for heat-related illnesses.

There is no shortage of outdoor activities available in the summer, and time can slip right by.

Experts say it's important to recognize that children and adults tolerate heat very differently.

"Children are at higher risk for heat-related injuries because they have thin skin and they don't manage the heat exchange well. They tend to lose more fluids through their skin and so they need extra fluids relative to what an adult does", says Dr. James Fortenberry of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infants and children younger than four are among those at the greatest risk for heat-related illness.

For babies under six months, doctors suggest:
  • keeping them out of direct sun
  • have them hydrated prior to going out
  • drink every 20-30 minutes

For older kids:
  • anticipate and plan ahead. They, too, need to drink before going out.
  • take frequent breaks to rehydrate
  • avoid sodas with caffeine.

While water is usually sufficient, after about an hour, it is not enough.
Utilizing a sports drink can be helpful for getting back those extra electrolytes.

Parents should be able to recognize these symptoms of heat illness:
  • faintness,
  • extreme tiredness,
  • nausea,
  • fever
  • muscle spasms.

These are all signs that medical attention may be needed for a child.