All You Need to Know About Heatstroke in Children

Heatstroke in children can ruin a fun day in the sun and cause little ones to be very uncomfortable. Therefore, you should take certain precautions when spending time outdoors.
All You Need to Know About Heatstroke in Children

Last update: 22 August, 2019

The summer season is a time for outdoor fun, trips to the beach and playing in the pool. However, these activities must include certain safety measures in order to reduce the possibilities of heatstroke in children.

In general, heatstroke occurs when temperatures rise in a humid environment and become worse in the case of intense physical activity.

What is heatstroke in children and how to avoid it?

Heatstroke in children refers to an alteration or destabilization of temperature control in the body.

Heatstroke is the body’s reaction to an excessive loss of salts and water due to exposure to the sun or an extremely hot environment. It can also appear as the result of dehydration, which impedes body temperature to go down on its own.

Those who are most vulnerable to this situation are children and the elderly, as they have a hard time expelling heat from their bodies.

All You Need to Know About Heatstroke in Children

To avoid heatstroke, it’s important to administer plenty of liquids regularly and avoid playing directly in the sun. Other precautions to take into account:

  • Dress children in cool clothing that is breathable and allows for the circulation of air.
  • Don’t forget to bring a hat that protects your child’s head. This part of your body is most delicate to sun and heat.
  • On especially hot days, avoid taking your children out in their stroller or doing errands in the car. These situations place little ones in increased risk of heatstroke.

Symptoms of heatstroke in children

Most cases of heatstroke in children take place on sunny days when the temperature is very high. Children may start to show signs of irritation and discomfort as a result of increasing fever, as well as bothersome sweating. 

Later, skin rash or redness appear, especially in the area around the neck, underarms, and groin. Children with heatstroke are also prone to experiencing headache, cramping of their muscles and vomiting.

In extreme cases, increased heart rate and difficulty breathing may also come into play. These symptoms may cause children to become groggy or lightheaded, which can result in loss of consciousness.

What to do in the case of heatstroke in children

If you notice that your child is suffering from heatstroke, the first thing you need to do is stay calm. That way, you’ll be able to take proper action and not become frantic. In the case of serious heatstroke, call 911 or take your child to an emergency room or med center. In the meantime, you should do the following:

Take your child to a cool place

It’s important to get your little one out of the heat and into the shade, and undress him or her. If possible, find an area with fresh, cool air circulating to help reduce body temperature. Lay your child down to allow him or her to rest and recover.

Refresh your baby’s body

The second step to take is to refresh your little one’s body with cool damp cloths. Place these cloths on the areas where your little one is sweating and on the head, underarm and groin area. You can also wet a large towel with cool water and cover your child’s body completely in order to reduce body heat.

All You Need to Know About Heatstroke in Children


It’s important to rehydrate your little one very gradually, one sip at a time. If your little one is still breastfeeding, allow him or her to nurse immediately. If your baby is old enough to drink water, offer cold water or a homemade rehydration drink using some lemon and a bit of salt in the preparation.

It’s important that you follow these guidelines in the days following the heatstroke as well. Children are likely to continue to be susceptible to heat for several days or weeks following an episode.Therefore, you need to be very careful and observant in order to prevent further heatstroke.

In conclusion, heatstroke in children is the consequence of undue exposure to extremely hot and sunny environments. The best way to treat it is through prevention – offering plenty of water and hydration and playing in cool, shaded areas.

If heatstroke does occur, water and rehydration measures will help your little one improve quickly. Remember to seek urgent medical care in the case of severe symptoms.

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