Summer is finally here and with temperatures currently higher than 30 degrees in cities such as Brighton and London, babies and young children are at risk of developing heat-related illnesses. One common condition that can occur if a child gets too hot is heat exhaustion, and if it’s not spotted and treated early, there's a risk it could lead to heatstroke. This potentially serious and life-threatening condition can put a strain on their brain, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys.
These two illnesses can develop very quickly over a few minutes, or gradually over several hours or days. According to the Baby Center and NHS these are the signs to look out for when detecting heat exhaustion:
- tiredness and weakness
- feeling faint or dizzy
- hot, red and dry skin
- a headache (which may cause irritability)
- muscle cramps
- heavy sweating
- intense thirst
- a fast pulse
- urinating less often and having much darker urine than usual
If you notice that your child has signs of heat exhaustion, this is what you can do to help:
- Lie them down in a cool place – such as a room with air conditioning or somewhere in the shade
- Remove any unnecessary clothing
- Talk to your baby reassuringly to keep him calm.
- Cool their skin – you can use a cool, wet sponge or flannel
- Fan their skin while it's moist – this will help the water to evaporate, which will help their skin cool down
- Get them to drink fluids – breastmilk or formula or water if they are six months or older
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can often be prevented by taking sensible precautions when it's very hot. These include:
Keeping them out of the heat:
- Keep your child out of the sun during peak hours.
- Try to keep them in the shade, apply sunscreen and make sure they wear a hat
- They should wear light, loose-fitting cotton clothes.
- Check that they are staying cool during car rides and never leave them alone in a parked car. Heat stroke can occur within minutes in a car, where the temperature quickly climbs much higher than the outside temperature.
Keeping them cool:
- Give them more fluids than usual on hot days
- Give them a cool bath
- Keep them indoor if you can