By Karen Wells, CNA Media Team
Playing outside is a must for summer. The sun feels good while having fun. Prevention measures safeguard against hot weather health problems and keep the fun going.
A child’s skin surface area is a greater percentage of their body weight compared to an adult’s, making them more at risk for hot weather problems. Heat cramps and heat exhaustion are sun exposure problems that can be avoided by knowing the symptoms and taking quick action.
Heat cramps are usually felt in the arms, hands, legs, feet or shoulders. No one knows the exact reason why heat cramps happen. The universally accepted explanation is: muscles have been over worked and/or the body has lost significant fluid and is in need of rest, more fluids and salt.
Heat exhaustion is a whole-body experience, when our natural cooling system begins to shut down. Look for nausea, vomiting, skin feels clammy or cool to the touch. They may complain of headache or be cranky, irritable, or they may get really thirsty. Any combination of these symptoms are warnings your child is suffering from heat exhaustion.
Take these simple actions to avoid more serious problems:
- Cool: get out of the sun and find shade
- Fluids: drink cool water, lots
- Rest: take a break in the shade to drink cool water
- When in doubt: call your doctor for advice or further action
Alberta Park on Killingsworth Street at 22nd Avenue offers wonderful shade on hot days. Also, during the week Portland Parks and Recreation hosts Free Lunch + Play programs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Aug. 25.
Remember, our children are always watching. In the morning, suggest they wear loose fitting cotton clothing with short sleeves while you get dressed in the same. Have them take water rest breaks with you in shade.
Karen, OCCD master trainer, early childhood education, conducts health and safety trainings for parents and childcare staff via Child Care Resource and Referral of Multnomah County. She may be reached at 5CornersFamily@ gmail.com or text 619.244.7892.