Kids' Org: Beat the Heat
Children, summer vacation is the longest break you have from school during the year. It is a chance to do things you don't normally get to do and see things you don't often see. Some of you go on trips with your families, attend school-organised programmes in the mountains or by the sea or go camping. As a lot of time is spent outdoors, so it's not surprising for you to become a victim of heatstroke.
What Is Heatstroke?
The body is normally very effective at cooling itself. You lose some heat through your skin by sweating. However, when you become dehydrated, your body is unable to produce enough sweat to cool itself. As a result, your body temperature can rise to 104 degrees or higher and heat stroke can strike. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can lead to heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough and the body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Heatstroke can happen anytime, anywhere. Young children are particularly at risk as their body’s heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.
Symptoms of heatstroke include: dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, loss of consciousness, rapid heartbeat and hallucinations.
Heatstroke is predictable and preventable. Take these steps to prevent heatstroke during hot weather:
n Keep yourself hydrated: Drink water regularly throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty. Once you recognise the feeling of thirst, dehydration is already taking place. It's best to avoid extremely cold liquids because they can cause stomach cramps. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.Include fresh lime juice, tender coconut, melons, bel sharbat, aam-panna etc in your diet. These will keep your body temperature low. Avoid aerated drinks.
n Have light meals: Avoid eating fried foods as they are difficult to digest. Include salads in your meals. Cucumber has 95 per cent water content in it. Having chach, curds etc. not only keep you hyderated but also help in digestion.
n Have bath more than once: Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath whenever you feel the need. This not only cleanses your skin but makes you feel fresh.
n Wear lightweight clothing: Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won't allow your body to cool properly
n Remain indoors: If possible, remain indoors during the hottest parts of the day. If you can't avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot. Try to schedule exercise or physical labour for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening. Plan around peak hours. If you plan to exercise or work in the sun, be sure to do it in the cooler part of the day, before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. Alternately, take it easy on hot days.
n Protect against sunburn: Sunburn affects your body's ability to cool itself, so protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Film (SPF) of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or sweating. Use umbrella if you are stepping out.
n Never stay in a parked car: This is a common cause of heat-related deaths in children. When parked in the sun, the temperature in your car can rise 20 degrees F (more than 6.7 C) in 10 minutes.
It's not safe to sit in a parked car in warm or hot weather, even if the windows are opened or the car is in shade.
n Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day: Get acclimated. Limit time spent on working or exercising in heat until you're conditioned to it. People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather.
n Let the body acclimatise to the heat: Sudden change in the temperature can cause illness. Switch off the Air Conditioner at least 15 minutes before stepping out.
n Check with your doctor: Be aware that some medications can make you more vulnerable to heat exhaustion. For example, painkillers can mask some of the symptoms of heat exhaustion, and laxatives can increase the risk of dehydration. If you have any questions about prescription or over-the-counter medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist
n Plan early morning play: You should plan outdoor activities to avoid peak-sun hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) as much as possible. Sound impossible for your active kids? Make sure you all can get a break from the sun, when needed.
n Beware of shade: Many people think sitting in the shade is a simple sun compromise. Shade does provide relief from the heat, but it offers parents a false sense of security about Ultra Violet Rays (UVR) protection. You can still sunburn in shade, because light is scattered and reflected. A fair-skinned person sitting under a tree can burn in less than an hour.
n Check the weather: Look for the Ultra Violet (UV) index (on a site like Weather.com) 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.
n Carry a water bottle: It is advised to carry a water bottle when stepping out. When you have a water bottle you tend to sip from it as it is handy.
n Be a good neighbour: Check on the elderly and chronically ill persons regularly to make sure they're bearing up under the heat.
These are some steps that you can take to avoid heat. Prevention is better than cure if you want to enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
What to do in case of heatstroke
- Fan air over the patient while wetting his or her skin with water from a sponge.
- Apply ice packs to the patient's armpits, groin, neck, and back. Because these areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin, cooling them may reduce body temperature.
- Immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water, with some ice cubes in it.
- In case the problem persists call the doctor.