During this Summer, it is important to be aware that extreme heat, and heat related illnesses are especially dangerous for infants and young children.
“Heat illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat edema (swelling of the hands, feet and ankles), heat rash (prickly heat) and heat cramps (muscle cramps). They are mainly caused by over-exposure to heat or over-exertion in the heat, and if not prevented, can lead to long-term health problems and even death.”
Children most at risk include those with breathing difficulties (asthma), heart conditions, kidney problems, mental and physical disabilities, developmental disorders, diarrhea, and those who take certain medications. Consult with your family doctor or pharmacist to find out if your child’s medication increases their risk of heat related illnesses.
Prepare for extreme heat
- Tune in regularly to local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care. Check the weather before heading out of your house!
- If you have an air conditioner, make sure it works properly before the hot weather starts. Otherwise, find an air-conditioned spot near you that you can use to cool off for a few hours during extreme heat.
- Learn about ways to keep your home cool during the summer and plan for the future. For example, if you live in a house, plant trees on the side where the sun hits the house during the hottest part of the day.
- If you see any of these signs during extreme heat, immediately move the child to a cool place and give liquids.
Watch your child’s health closely
Stay alert for symptoms of heat illness. They include:
- changes in behaviour (sleepiness or temper tantrums)
- dizziness or fainting
- nausea or vomiting
- rapid breathing and heartbeat
- extreme thirst
- decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine
- Call 911 if you sense any heat illnesses! Heat stroke is a medical emergency! If you are caring for a child who has a high body temperature and is unconscious, confused or has stopped sweating, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
Keep your child hydrated
Dehydration is dangerous. Give plenty of cool liquids to drink, especially water, before your child feels thirsty.
- Make it fun—Leave a colourful glass by the sink and remind your child to drink after every hand washing.
- Make it healthy—Provide extra fruits and vegetables as they have a high water content.
- Make it routine—Encourage your child to drink water before and after physical activity.
Avoid sun exposure
- Dress your child in loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing made from a breathable fabric.
- Keep your child in the shade or protected from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable hat or shade them with an umbrella.
- Tree-shaded areas could be as much as 5ºC cooler than the surrounding area.
- Limit your time in the sun.
- Use a broad spectrum sunscreen that is SPF30 or higher and follow the product instructions.
For more information, visit https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/healthy-living/keep-children-cool-extreme-heat.html