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Ohio Summer Heat Can Be Dangerous for Kids

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PHOTO: Medical experts suggest limiting children's time outdoors in high heat and humidity, and keep them hydrated to avoid heat-related illnesses. Photo credit: Kristin Kiskey/morguefile.
PHOTO: Medical experts suggest limiting children's time outdoors in high heat and humidity, and keep them hydrated to avoid heat-related illnesses. Photo credit: Kristin Kiskey/morguefile.
June 30, 2014

COLUMBUS, OH - The heat is on in Ohio, and that can spell trouble for those who spend time outdoors, especially kids.

Dr. Eric Kirkendall, Division of Hospital Medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, said children are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses, making it critical that they stay hydrated and limit their exposure to the sun.

Kirkendall said excessive sun exposure can lead to heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heatstroke.

"Hot, flushed skin typically is associated with high fevers, over 104 degrees," said Kirkendall. "That's when kids will also start to have altered mental states. They'll start getting really confused, and in some of the worst cases can have seizures."

He advised seeking immediate medical attention if heatstroke is suspected.

Heat cramps can occur in the stomach or legs, while heat exhaustion causes pale skin, profuse sweating, nausea and weakness. Kirkendall's recommended treatment is to have the child lie down and give them cool fluids. If possible, elevate their feet.

According to Kirkendall, young athletes are particularly prone to heat-related illness, and should stay hydrated and take frequent breaks when playing outside.

"If they're drinking huge amounts of water, or not getting enough water, they can start to get some electrolyte imbalances," said Kirkendall. "Sports drinks can help with that. But, for most situations where kids are not active for hours on end, cold tap water will work fine."

Kirkendall also recommended making sure children wear sunblock and light-colored, loose clothing when outdoors. He also advised against being outside between noon and 6 p.m.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH