During warm weather, children love to play outside or participate in sports. It is especially important to watch the child closely during these times, as the heat affects children differently than it does adults. Their body surface in proportion to their weight is much greater than adults. Therefore, they sweat less and produce more heat during physical activity than adults. This could lead to dehydration.
Below are some tips to prevent children from suffering from dehydration:
- Give them plenty of water: Most kids are too busy having fun to remember to drink lots of water. Although sports drinks and popsicles contain fluid, they often have lots of sugar. Pedialyte may be used- but should only used when the child has diarrhea. The Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should take many breaks while playing sports or exercising during hot weather. Young children should be well hydrated before they begin. During play, parents and coaches should make sure to take breaks every 20 minutes to drink water.
- Wear lightweight and breathable clothing: Light weight and light colored clothing help dispense of the heat.
- Know the physical condition of the child: Dehydration of more than 3% of body weight increases a child’s risk of a heat-related illness. Playing outside or practices should be held during cooler hours. If your child is not physically fit, he or she should start slowly.
- Getting used to the heat: Gradually introduce kids, especially sports-practicing children to the heat to prevent dehydration over a period of two weeks. Slowly increase the intensity and length of workouts over 10 to 14 days. This helps train their bodies to drink more, increase blood volume, and sweat more. Sweating helps release heat from the body.
- Know the heat index: Humidity plus high air temperatures can lead to dehydration. Exercising in 95 degrees plus humidity of 35 degrees may cause heat illness. Avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day.
- Watch your child closely. If a child looks sick, bring the child inside to rest and provide him or her with fluids. Even if they look fine, they are still dehydrated. Have them take a day or two to rest.