Hot weather tends to make us perspire more which could lead to excessive water loss, a condition defined as dehydration. Children are especially susceptible if water loss through sweating and urinating is not replenished.
Symptoms of Dehydration
• Persistent thirst
• Increased heart rate
• Dry mouth
• Reduced frequency of urination
• Sunken eyes
• Shallow breathing
• Physical weakness
Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion and a rise in body temperature; and can even be fatal if left untreated!!
At the first signs of dehydration when you see symptoms such as drowsiness, reduced urine, sunken eyes or wrinkled skin, seek medical help immediately.
Here are some practical tips to prevent your child from getting dehydrated during hot weather.
- Wear light-coloured clothes because they reflect the heat. Dark colours absorb heat. Choose the proper colour for your child to wear outdoors.
- Drink plenty of water. Water is still the best drink. It should be taken a little at a time, not gulped down.
- Avoid the sun. Schedule your activities either in the morning or late afternoon. Avoid being in the sun during the hottest period of the day, usually taken to be from 11.00am to 3.00pm.
- Expose your child to the heat of the sun gradually. Don’t stay in the sun for too long. Start from a few minutes and then increase slowly to a longer period.
- When outdoors, make your own ‘fan’. Use a book, newspaper, paper plate or handkerchief to keep your child cool. Better still, carry a small battery-operated fan.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. They contain a fairly high water content which can help to replenish water losses and minerals too. Tip: Getting kids to eat vegetables and fruits.
- Slow down. If your child is engaged in some activity or game under the sun, guide him to do it slower than at the usual pace.
- Wear a hat. To protect from the sun, give your child a hat to wear. Preferably one that covers the neck and is well-ventilated, or bring an umbrella when you go out with them.
- Play in shady areas. Always look for the shadiest spots for outdoor play sessions. Best is to be out in the sun only during the ‘cooler’ times of the day
- Don’t let your child go topless in the sun. Continued exposure of skin to direct sunlight can cause long-term damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.