9 Tips to Protect Children from a Heat Wave

In the case of a heat wave, children should be well-hydrated and protected so they can enjoy the summer in a safe and healthy way.
9 Tips to Protect Children from a Heat Wave

Last update: 09 September, 2022

Knowing how to protect children from a heat wave is very important, especially considering that sudden changes in temperature have become very common in recent times. In fact, sudden changes in the weather pose greater risks to the health of infants. In this article, we’ll give you some tips to take care of your little ones. Take note!

Tips to protect children from a heat wave

When children are going to stay outdoors for a long time, there are measures that can be put into practice to protect them from a heat wave. These are basic tips so that sudden increases in temperature don’t affect them too much, as, along with the elderly, they’re the most vulnerable population. Let’s get started!

1. Maintain proper hydration

When outside, temperatures are high, and the body’s regulatory mechanism causes us to sweat more, so the body needs to replenish more fluids to prevent dehydration.

Children are more vulnerable to dehydration because the percentage of water in their bodies is higher than in adults and the possibility of conserving it is lower. In fact, their thirst regulation centers are still in the process of maturing. Therefore, they should always have water available and within reach to drink quite frequently, regardless of their desire to do so.

2. Dress in light clothing

It’s best to dress children in light-weight, light-colored clothing limited to a single layer of material that’s absorbent to maximize evaporation of sweat. This prevents overheating.

3. Use sun protection

One of the most important measures to prevent heat stroke is to avoid direct sun on the head. To this end, effective protection elements such as hats, UV-filtered clothing, and sunglasses should be available.

The use of sunscreens to protect the skin from possible sunburn is also one of the essential measures if the child’s going to be outdoors.

A mother putting sunscreen on her son's back.
Covering children’s skin with sunscreen is one of the most important measures in the face of a heat wave.

4. Plan rest periods

The heat often makes children, and even parents, feel overwhelmed and tired. In addition, high temperatures can cause people to become more irritable. For this reason, it’s advisable to find shady places for children to cool off, drink water, and rest. According to the National Weather Service, an extreme or excessive heat index represents a significant health risk.

5. Keep them cool during a heat wave

Cool baths or sprays of water on children are recommended to lower their body temperature. In fact, swimming is a good way to cool down while keeping your little one active.

6. Don’t leave children inside vehicles

According to the recommendations of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEPed), children should never be left inside a car, neither in summer nor in winter. The interior of vehicles can increase in temperature in a short time, even with the windows open. In addition, children regulate heat less effectively than adults, and this can lead to severe consequences.

7. Eating lightly

Hydration can also be covered by drinking water and eating foods such as vegetables, fruits (natural juices or pieces), and cooked and fresh vegetables. Even cold teas, ice cream, and milkshakes are good options at this time of year, as they help to replace salts lost through sweating.

Eating lightly helps to make digestion easier and shorter, which means less consumption of cardiac output by the digestive organs and less heat production.

Children eating watermelon on a picnic blanket in the grass.
On hotter days, it’s best to eat lightly. Fruits, such as watermelon, help keep children hydrated. Vegetables and fresh natural juices are also recommended.

8. Avoid exposure to the sun in the central hours of the day

To prevent dehydration or protect children from a heat wave, it’s best to avoid exposing them to the sun in the central hours of the day, i.e. between 10 am and 4 pm. Therefore, it’s best to look for a cool and shady place, which could be, for example, under a tree or an umbrella.

9. Limit physical exercise

It’s best to avoid excessive physical activity by children during the hottest hours of the day. These can be replaced by calmer exercises or games to avoid dehydration.

When to go to the pediatrician immediately?

If any of the following symptoms appear in children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends immediate action and calling a medical specialist:

  • Headache
  • Body temperature above 104°F
  • Feeling faint and extremely tired
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intense thirst
  • Fast or slowed breathing compared to usual
  • Decreased frequency of urination
  • Muscle spasms or pains
  • Numbness or tingling of the skin surface

Children during a heat wave

While it may seem that a heat wave can impact children mildly, this is sometimes not the case. In fact, it may affect the muscles, kidneys, brain, and heart. Therefore, children should be well-hydrated and protected to enjoy the outdoors safely and healthily.

With proper care, you and your children can make the most of summer safely.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.