Summer 2011
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Preventing Heat Stroke in Kids


When your body temperature rises so high it makes you sick – even threatens your life – that's called heat stroke. It's a serious condition that can also affect children.

But children often aren't mindful of their own safety – especially when they're having a good time playing. That's why you need to know what can happen if they become overheated.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Usually, we keep ourselves cool by sweating. Heat stroke develops when we become too dehydrated to perspire. Our bodies start to heat up when we can't sweat.

But heat stroke doesn't just happen; first there are warning signs. Heat exhaustion comes first, with symptoms that range from nausea and vomiting to fatigue and muscle cramps.

You'll know heat stroke has set in if your child:

  • Develops a headache.
  • Feels dizzy.
  • Acts disoriented, agitated or confused, even hallucinates.
  • Becomes tired.
  • Has a seizure.
  • Has skin that is hot, dry and flushed, but not sweaty.
  • Develops a high body temperature.

As you can see, heat stroke isn't something to take lightly.

Urging Fluids to Prevent Dehydration and Heat Stroke

So how can you avoid heat stroke? Prevent dehydration by ensuring your kids drink fluids and take breaks – either going inside or sitting in the shade. These steps help give their bodies time to cool down.

Find Out if Heat Stroke Danger Is Present

How do you know if kids might be dehydrated? One way is to watch their urine output. If it's been several hours since their last trip to the bathroom, it indicates that they are not drinking enough. When in doubt, just ask them when they last used the restroom. If the number of hours is high – six hours or so – that's a sign of dehydration.

If you suspect that your child – or anyone, for that matter – is suffering from heat stroke:

  • Call a doctor.
  • Take the child to a cool, shady place.
  • Remove any unnecessary clothing to help cool down the child.
  • Fan warm air over the child while wetting the skin with lukewarm water. This also will help in the cooling-down process.

The good news about heat stroke is that it is usually preventable. Remember to keep plenty of water on hand – and make sure your youngsters drink it.

Source: article excerpt from

Good Health for Kids is produced by Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas.