Protecting Children from Heatwaves: Warnings and Tips

02 February, 2021
Young children don't always show symptoms easily, so continual and persistent high temperatures can be detrimental to their health.

When the sun shines and seems to embrace us through its heat, it usually makes us happy. However, the damage that the sun can have on our skin is well known. Despite this, we don’t always have enough information and warnings on how to protect ourselves. The latter is especially important when it comes to protecting children from heatwaves.

How to start protecting children from heat waves

At the beginning of autumn, the sun’s strength begins to weaken. Despite this, sometimes sudden changes in temperature arise that force us to wear more typical summer clothes. When the hot days are continuous and the temperatures are very high, even though it isn’t the hot season, we must pay attention as if it were summer, looking out for children and the elderly.

Causes and consequences of excess heat

“The body surface of a child is different to that of an adult and very high temperatures make people perspire more than usual. The system can become exhausted, ‘heat exhaustion’ begins and, from there, heatstroke can occur”

– Paediatrician Marisa Sala, from the Paediatric Research and Development Institute of the Sor María Ludovica Children’s Hospital, Argentina-

At the same time, the Argentine Society of Pediatrics, faced with the question of how to protect children from heat waves, advises that we should consider warning signs from the meteorological services. They usually anticipate extreme meteorological situations, in order to avoid damage to our health.

Similarly, the same Scientific Society recommends a series of actions to take in order to combat possible heatwaves.

A person in the heat.

Recommendations for protecting children from heatwaves

  • Make sure children stay in cool and well-ventilated places against the threat of high temperatures.
  • It’s useful to wear loose-fitting, colored clothing, preferably cotton. Colored clothing, such as white or non-patterned pastels, can help prevent insect bites, especially from mosquitos.

Other tips to keep in mind

  • Drink fluids regularly. This includes water and natural juices, but try to avoid sugary drinks.
  • If you’re breastfeeding, increase the frequency of feedings.
  • Try not to go into the sun between 10 a.m and 4 p.m. It’s a good idea to wear hats or caps with a visor, and also to use sunscreen on exposed areas, even on cloudy days.

Read also: Pregnancy in Summer: How to Cope with High Temperatures

Also, according to Eres mama:A heat stroke can ruin the fun and turn into a bad experience for children. For this reason, before enjoying the days outdoors it’s essential to take some precautions”.

What is and what isn’t a heat stroke?

A woman with heat stroke.

According to the same source, it’s an “alteration or destabilization of the body’s thermal regulation”. It’s therefore a reaction of the body that produces an excessive loss of salts and water due to extreme exposure to the sun or heat.

It can also be caused by dehydration, which causes body temperature to drop on its own. The most vulnerable people to heat stroke are children and the elderly, who have a more difficult time expelling heat from the body.

You may also be interested in: How to Make Homemade Electrolyte Beverage to Prevent Dehydration

Finally: How to start protecting children from heatwaves?

Faced with the question of how to protect children from heat waves, it’s important to provide a series of warning signs and tips. It’s a good idea to keep refreshed. But also, it’s essential to protect yourself from direct sun exposure, and to avoid physical exercise at the hottest times of the day.

At the same time, we must take care of younger children and be aware of the following:

  • Maintain adequate hydration. Also, in order to prevent diarrhea and other illnesses, it’s important to wash your hands with soap and water both before and after handling food, as well as changing your baby’s nappies.
  • Taking care of food is also really important, as it spoils quickly at high temperatures. You shouldn’t leave food outside the fridge in high temperatures.
  • Sociedad Argentina de Pediatría. Comunidad. Protejamos a los niños durante los días de calor extremo. Disponible en https://bit.ly/2MaPG7G
  • Pinacho-Velázquez, J. L. (2014). «Golpe de calor» en los nĩnos. Revista Mexicana de Pediatria.
  • Culqui, D. R., Díaz, J., Simón, F., & Linares, C. (2013). análisis del impacto de las olas de calor sobre la mortalidad de laciudad de Madrid durante el período 1990-2009. Revista Espanola de Salud Publica. https://doi.org/10.4321/S1135-57272013000300007