In Australia, it doesnt have to be summer for the heat to be oppressive.
Some love those long sunny days, but it pays to be careful if youre the parent of a baby or young child.
Many Australians live in climates where its hot most of the year, and theres little reprieve even during winter months. For parents, this means that its so important to be mindful of your actions and the actions of your children, so you can protect them against heat illness conditions like heat stress and heat stroke.
Just a reminder for the holidays
Be especially mindful when heading to a vacay holiday, to a family living someplace far or even enjoying a staycation in your local suburb this Summer and you have a baby or toddler, check out CoziGo to pop onto your pram on those hot summer days to help your little one sleep and stay safe.
CoziGo can also be popped onto in-flight bassinets for any of you travelling by plane and desperately need your baby to sleep in the bassinet without any distractions.
What Are Heat IllnessConditions
The human body can create a pretty incredible amount of heat, which in most cases is expelled from the body through sweating and heat radiating through our skin. But, when the body cant process the heat, usually when we are dehydrated or simply have had too much sun and sweat, our body doesnt do the job its supposed to do to cool us down. When that happens, things can get bad very quickly.
There are three major heat illness conditions, which is what we call it when the body isnt able to cool itself down. These are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Heat Cramps:Essentially painful, but brief, muscle cramps in the limbs and sometimes the abdomen. They happen after or during exercise in the extreme heat and are caused by a low level of salts in the body, caused by fluid loss. By themselves they arent serious, but they can be a sign of more serious heat illnesses.
Heat Stress:Sometimes called heat exhaustion, this is a more serious heat illness that happens when someone in a hot environment or hot climate hasnt had enough fluids. Think of it like an extreme form of dehydration, which can lead to heat stroke if it goes unnoticed or untreated.
Heatstroke:The most serious of the heat illnesses, heatstroke is a life-threatening medical emergency. When a person has heatstroke, the body cannot regulate its temperature, meaning that internal temperatures can rise rapidly leading to brain damage and even death. Babies and children are particularly at risk.
Recognising signs of heat stress and heatstroke is essential in treating it properly, and its certainly something that all parents should be at least a little familiar with. Its also good to know so you can spot it in other children. Weve also suggested some treatment tips, but you should always take your child to a doctor, or call a doctor, if you suspect heat stress. If you think your child has heatstroke, treat it as an emergency.
Signs of heat stress can include:
- Increased thirst,
- Feeling of weakness,
- Fainting or feeling faint,
- Muscle cramps (heat cramps),
- Nausea or vomiting,
- Cranky mood,
- More sweating,
- Cool, even clammy skin,
- Increased body temp (but lower than 40 degrees).
If you think your child has heat stress, relocate them to a cooler place, preferable indoors in the air-conditioning, or at least in a shady spot. Take off any excess clothing, and encourage them to drink (slowly) cool fluids that contain was and sugar, like hydrating beverages and sports drinks.
You can also lay a cool, wet cloth on your childs skin, dabbing it to cool them. Its a smart idea tocall your doctor for advice on what to do, or attend a clinic. Kids who are too exhausted, or too sick, may need to be treated with IV fluids.
Signs of heatstroke can include:
- Severe headache,
- Nausea or vomiting,
- Rapid heartbeat and breathing,
- Failure to sweat,
- Flushed, hot and dry skin,
- Temperature higher than 39.4degrees.
Heatstroke should always be treated as an emergency, and your child will absolutely need medical treatment, and fast. Left untreated, heatstroke can have fatal effects. While youre waiting for help to arrive, if youve called an ambulance, or if youre going to seek medical treatment, ensure your child is in a cool place. You can undress them, and use a sponge or cloth to cool their skin with water. You should not give your child fluids unless they are awake, alert, and acting normally.
Protecting Against The Heat
Heat stress is a serious condition, and heatstroke is even more so. Thats why its so important to protect against the heat, instead of just treating the conditions that arise from it.
Whether you have babies or children, if youre living in a warm climate or your children are active you should always be thinking about the risk of heat illness. Make sure your little ones are getting plenty of fluids that hydrate. This means water for children and breastmilk or formula for babies. Kids dont always recognise the signs of thirst, so help them to remember to drink lots of fluid before and during any physical activity in hot weather, even if they dont feel thirsty.
It can also help to dress kids in loose, light-coloured clothing when theyre outdoors, and to make sure theyre always wearing a hat and sunscreen. During really hot or humid days, try and avoid having kids outside in the hottest part of the day. Organise indoor activity, or limit play to the shade and make fluids readily available. Also talk to kids about how they feel when they get too hot, so they know that if they start to feel a bit sick, they should rest indoors or somewhere cool, get hydrated, and talk to an adult.
How do you protect your kids against heat stress and heatstroke?
If you become concerned about any symptoms, please seek immediate medical attention we have some hotlines and suggested websites for further information and advice https://www.stayathomemum.com.au/my-kids/babies/important-hotlines-websites/