We hear tragic horror stories frequently. A child, left in a car and forgotten, dies from the extreme temperature.
That will never be you, of course. But accidents happen, and kids and toddlers are more sensitive to hot environments than we are.
Sometimes, our little ones get very sick from extreme heat without us even noticing the signs. So how can you protect your child when the temps are rising?
When They Can’t Help Themselves, We Have to Help
Don’t use your body’s signals as a way to judge how kids or toddlers are feeling. We’ve learned to adjust to heat over the years. Instead, remember these tips to protect kids and toddlers when they can’t defend themselves.
- Keep them hydrated. Children playing will wait until the absolute last second to say they’re thirsty. They’d rather deal with the thirst than stop their game. It’s up to you to remind them that it’s time to drink some water.
Even then, they may argue and say they aren’t thirsty. Keeping your child hydrated is your job. They don’t understand the importance. If they won’t drink water, try juice or a popsicle. Avoid soda or tea since both of these can have other negative effects.
- Find air conditioning. Shade isn’t always enough. The direct sun’s rays are avoided, but the extreme heat still makes it hard for children to breathe. Try to find a place with air conditioning for little ones to sit in with you for ten minutes every hour or so. This lets their bodies cool down before they overheat.
If your A/C is broken, call the air conditioning company as soon as possible and let them know you have kids. They should send a tech out quickly to help before your child gets sick.
- Consider their clothing. When it’s cold, you always have the option of adding more layers to your child to warm them up. But when it’s hot, it’s harder to cool down. Kids don’t have the ability to regulate their body temperatures with sweat like we do as adults.
Children in heavy or dark clothing will overheat faster than you will. When you know it’s going to be hot, and they’ll be outside, make sure they dress in lightweight, light-colored clothing. Don’t layer their outfit, either.
- Cool them down slowly. Moving from one extreme temperature to the other can shock a child’s body. If you notice your child is too hot, don’t put them in an ice bath or other extreme change.
Take them into an air-conditioned room and put a cool washcloth on their forehead and neck. Use a cool water mist or a cool (not cold) bath. Start the cool-down process right away, but make sure it’s a gradual decline.
- Give them regular rest breaks. Are you at a theme park with lots of waiting in line in the heat? Hiking in a canyon without trees for shade? At a playground with lots of children running around?
Whatever you’re doing, set your phone or watch timer at regular intervals, so your little ones have a few minutes of resting in between activity. You might feel like you can keep going, but their bodies can’t aren’t built for endurance quite yet.
With these tips, your child will have more fun and be safer in extreme temperatures. As you follow safety guidelines, you’re role modeling and teaching them how to notice changes in their own bodies, too. Over time, they’ll be able to do all of these things on their own—the ultimate goal of every parent.