6 Tips Every Parent Should Know About Sun And Heat Related Illnesses
It’s that time of year where your kids are trading in their flip flops, and summer adventures for slacks and after school activities.
While the long hours in the sun during the summer season may have come to an end, the reality is, we live in Florida where we have high heat temperatures throughout the year.
With temperatures as high as the 90 degrees in the fall, it’s critical that parents continue to take the necessary preventative measures against the sun and heat-related illnesses all year round.
Here are some facts and tips about the sun and heat-related illnesses to keep your family and loved ones healthy.
Tip 1: Fun in the Sun
Just a few severe sunburns can increase you and your child’s risk of wrinkles and skin cancers, like melanoma, later in life. Skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever outdoors. Here are some facts to keep mind:
- The closer you are to the equator, the higher the risk of sunburn.
- Sunburn risk is not decreased by cloud cover, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Wet skin is more susceptible to sunburn than dry skin.
- Sunburn is more prevalent in adolescents and young adults
- Some medications will make your child more sensitive to sunlight (sunburn). Check with your pharmacist or medical provider.
Tip 2: Be Sun Savvy
- Check the weather. Look for the UV index when planning outdoor activities. It predicts the intensity of UV light based on the sun’s position, cloud movements, altitude, ozone data, and other factors. Higher UV index numbers predict more intense UV light.
- Keep children under one year of age out of the sun as much as you can.
- Early morning is best. Protect your child from too much sun. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so be extra careful during that time. Plan outdoor activities for early in the morning to end before 10 a.m. or start after 4 p.m and if you must be out during these houses, have your child drink plenty of fluids even if they are not thirsty. Water is the best.
- Take breaks to cool off in the shade but mindful that that sitting in the shade is a simple a compromise. Shade does provide relief from the heat, but you can still get a sunburn in the shade because the light is scattered and reflected. A fair-skinned person sitting under a tree can burn in less than an hour.
- Don’t be fooled by the cloud cover. Most of the sun’s burning rays go right through clouds, so use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
- Apply early and repeat: Use sunscreen with SPF 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure so it can absorb into the skin. By adding sunscreen before heading out, you also decrease the likelihood that it will be washed off. Choose one that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every two hours and after swimming, sweating or drying off with a towel.
Quick Tip:For most users, proper application and reapplication are more significant factors than using a product with a higher SPF. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), sunscreen may be used on infants younger than 6 months in small areas of the skin if adequate clothing and shade are not available.
Place small amounts of sunscreen on their faces and the backs of their hands but be careful not to get it in their eyes or mouth.
- Cover up. Clothing can be an excellent barrier to UV rays. Some protective clothing to keep in mind is hats, light-colored clothing with long sleeves, long pants, and sun-protective styles that cover the neck.
- Look “cool” for a good reason — select sunglasses for babies and children that provide 100% UV protection.
- When it is 90° or above and humid, children should not play outside or exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time.
Tip 3: If Your Child Develops a Sunburn
Sunburns are classified as mild, moderate, and severe, and the symptoms generally resolve over seven days.
Initial treatment of sunburn with intact skin (without blisters) may include:
- Cool compresses or soaks
- Aloe Vera-based gels
- Calamine lotion.
- White paraffin.
Oral Analgesic/anti-inflammatory agents:
- Ibuprofen, Naproxen (Aleve) or Indomethacin. You need to give the appropriate dose. The dose recommended on the bottles may be insufficient sometimes.
We recommend evaluation by a medical provider if you have a question about the dosage of medications. A medical provider should evaluate your child if their sunburn results in the following: severe pain, a fever, headache, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, dehydration, or alteration in consciousness.
At Night-Lite Pediatrics Urgent Care, we offer services at our 13 locations in Florida that can cater to many of your child’s sunburn complications if needed. We are open late-night every day, all year round to provide fast, convenient, and cost-efficient evaluation and treatment.
Tip 4: Heat Related Illnesses
Beat the Heat
Heat-related illness happens when the body’s temperature control system is overloaded.
Children differ from adults:
Children differ from adults in regard to their body’s response to heat stress. These differences translate into a potentially higher risk for severe heat illness in children, especially infants and young athletes.
Infants and children up to 4 years of age are at the highest risk for heatstroke because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults. Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.
The higher the humidity level, the higher the risk of heat-related illness for the same temperature, hence the terminology heat index.
Severity of Heat-related Illnesses
It can range from:
- Heat rash (Miliaria) of various forms and severity
- Dizziness or loss of consciousness, especially when the child remains standing after significant exertion.
- Painful muscle cramps can occur during or after exercise and sometimes can cause spasms in the hands.
- Heat exhaustion can result in the following symptoms: elevated temperature (fever), sweating, nausea, vomiting, headache, mild confusion, weakness, passing out, and severe thirst.
- Heatstroke There is some overlap between heat exhaustion and heat strokes. Those with heat strokes generally have temperatures between (104 to 105°F), abnormal or altered state of consciousness, which may be subtle and cause irregular breathing.
Quick Tip:For heat-related illness, the best defense is prevention.
Never leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.
Tip 5: Don’t Let Your Child Roast
It only takes 10 minutes for a car to heat up by 19 degrees. Never leave a child alone in a car, even for a minute. Fatalities can occur at temperatures as low as the mid-50s because a vehicle heats up so quickly. Cracking a window is not a solution.
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully, for morning and evening hours.
- Take breaks to cool off in the shade.
- Stay cool with cold showers or baths.
- Don’t be macho When it is 90°, or above and humid, children should not play outside or exercise for more than 30 minutes at a time.
- Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids. To prevent dehydration, your kids should drink 6-12 ounces of fluid 30 minutes before an activity begins and take mandatory fluid breaks.
Quick Tip:A child’s gulp equals a half-ounce of fluid, so your child or young adult should drink about 5-10 gulps for every 20-30 minutes of play.
Tip 6: What to Do When Your Child Heats U
Seek medical care immediately if your child has symptoms of heat-related. Treatment often depends on the type and severity of symptoms.
Prompt recognition of heat exhaustion is important because some cases progress to heatstroke. Unfortunately, many patients who develop heatstroke do not have prior heat exhaustion.
- Children with symptoms of heat exhaustion should stop exercising immediately and be moved to a cooler environment (e.g., natural shade, air-conditioned vehicle, air-conditioned building).
- Excess clothing should be removed.
- The child should be given chilled salt-containing liquids (e.g., flavored sports drinks) to drink. Most patients with mild heat exhaustion respond to these measures and do not require further care
At Night Lite Pediatrics Urgent Care, we can provide evaluation and care for heat-related illnesses at any of our 13 locations in Florida.
Note children with heatstroke are best cared for in an emergency department.