Besides the fact that school starts up this month, August is also notoriously known as one of our hottest months of the year! This is important to note for our kids, because the danger of dehydration in children during activity outside. Whether your child is at recess or you take them outside to play after school gets out, there are some important health precautions you should take.
You see, a child’s body does not acclimate to heat as well as an adult does, because their body surface (proportioned to their overall weight) is much greater than an adult’s. As a result, their bodies are less capable of dispelling heat (they also sweat less than adults) and could cause dehydration. The best way to prevent dehydration is to take some precautions:
- Know the physical fitness level of your child and what he/she can handle for indoor and outdoor activity. We’ve got a pop quiz in this edition that can help you know how much activity your child should have, but you should also consider what he/she is used to.
- Expose them to more outdoor activity gradually. Start with the cooler hours in the early evening.
- Make sure that he/she gets plenty of water to drink. Avoid sports drinks where possible, because of the sugar levels. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids should have water about every 20 minutes while outside, even if they’re not thirsty.
- Lastly, know the heat index for the day and react accordingly. The heat index, with its combination of high air temperatures and humidity, can cause the “perfect storm” for the risk of dehydration. If the humidity levels are at 35 percent and the temperatures push 95 degrees, it’s well-advised to avoid outdoor activity during this time and wait until the early evenings or seek out exercise for your child indoors.
Arvind B. Soni, MD
President-Elect, Polk County Medical Association