Our bodies create a tremendous amount of heat. Normally, they're cooled through sweating and by heat radiating through the skin. But in very hot weather, high humidity, and other conditions, this natural cooling system may begin to fail, letting heat in the body build to dangerous levels. The can cause heat illness, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heatstroke.
The most severe form of heat illness is heatstroke.
Heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency:
In heatstroke, the body cannot regulate its own temperature. Body temperature can soar to 106°F (41.1°C) or even higher, leading to brain damage or even death if it isn't quickly treated. Prompt medical treatment is required to bring the body temperature under control. Factors that increase the risk for heatstroke include overdressing and extreme physical activity in hot weather with inadequate fluid intake. Heatstroke also can happen when a child is left in or becomes accidentally trapped in, a car on a hot day. When the outside temperature is 93°F (33.9°C), the temperature inside a car can reach 125°F (51.7°C) in just 20 minutes, quickly raising body temperature to dangerous levels.
What to Do:
Get to an ER immediately or call for emergency medical help if your child has been outside in extreme temperatures or another hot environment and shows one or more of these symptoms of heatstroke:
- severe headache
- weakness, dizziness
- rapid breathing and heartbeat
- loss of consciousness
- no sweating
- flushed, hot, dry skin
- temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher
While waiting for help:
- Get your child indoors or into the shade.
- Undress your child and sponge or douse him or her with cool water.
- Do not give fluids unless your child is awake, alert, and acting normally.
An Ounce of Prevention
Help protect kids from heat illness:
- Teach kids to always drink plenty of fluids before and during activity in hot, sunny weather — even if they're not thirsty.
- Make sure kids wear light-colored, loose clothing and use sunscreen when outdoors.
- On hot or humid days, make sure your kids only participate in heavy activity outdoors before noon and after 6 p.m.
- Teach kids to come indoors, rest, and hydrate immediately whenever they feel overheated
* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.