Protecting your child: heat illness and dehydration

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While summer typically means no school and more fun for kids, it also means they are at more risk of getting dehydrated in extreme heat. Health officials remind parents to keep kids hydrated. Dr. Kevin Stephens says parents must step in and pay attention to their kids.

“You have to keep your eyes open. Make sure they are not exhibiting signs of dehydration. You want to catch it when its minimal or mild cause once you get to severe you can really have severe problems.”

Kids are at a higher risk for dehydration and heat illness compared to adults because children have a lower sweating capacity and produce more heat during physical activity. The amount a child should drink varies by age, gender, weather, and level of physical activity. Stephens suggests offering plenty of water and hydrating foods…

“Usually every fifteen minutes they should have about four ounces of water.You can also use ice cubes, popsicles, jello, and fruit. For instance, watermelon. Kids who are breast feeding or bottle feeding should not be given water.”

Stephens urges parents to avoid long hours of play in extreme heat and to keep an eye out for symptoms.

“Kids will complain that they have a dry mouth.No tears when they cry. The eyes look sunken. And of course a good sign for babies, if you wash diapers, count your diapers and see if they’re not soiling diapers.”

Stephen says if you think your child may be suffering from heat illness, hydrate them and consult a physician.

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