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Keep Kids Safe this Summer

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Kristin: Good morning, this is your Wellness Wake Up Call with Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition, and wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties. Joining me today is Kallia Milillo, Master of Public Health intern from St. Ambrose University.

Kallia: Good morning, Kristin, and thank you for having me on.

Kristin: Good morning! I’m aware that you have an interest in infant and maternal health, and since it’s National Safety Month, I’d love for you to share some information on how our listeners can reduce the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke for children this summer. Many kids spend their summers with caregivers or grandparents so it’s important for everyone to know the signs of dehydration, and steps to treat heat-related illness.

Kallia: Absolutely! If any of our listeners are taking care of a baby this summer, be sure to familiarize yourself with the signs of heat-related illness that are appropriate for their age.

The most severe is heat stroke and if you think the child is experiencing one, seek medical attention immediately. Signs of a heat stroke in a child under the age of 1, may include:

  • Restlessness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Vomiting

Symptoms of heat stroke in older children may also include:

  • A dangerously high body temperature (104° F or above)
  • Lack of sweating
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Flushed, hot and dry skin
  • Loss of consciousness

However, if you think the child is showing signs of severe dehydration or heat exhaustion, please call the child’s pediatrician right away.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion in older children may include:

  • An elevated body temperature (100° to 104° F)
  • Cool, clammy skin despite the temperature
  • Goose bumps
  • Increased sweating
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

It’s harder to distinguish signs of dehydration in infants so keep an eye out for:

  • Fewer than 6 wet diapers a day
  • Sunken soft spot of the head
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry lips/mouth
  • Few or no tears when they cry

Kristin: Having a 9-month old myself, I know babies are especially vulnerable to dehydration and are sensitive to even small amounts of fluid loss. This is something my pediatrician mentioned early on. She also mentioned babies can’t regulate their body temperatures as well since their sweat glands aren’t fully developed. So obviously try to keep them out of extreme heat and limit time outside in the sun but do you have any additional do’s and don’ts to prevent dehydration from occurring while enjoying our summer activities?

Kallia: Yes, remember to follow these tips:

  • DO dress them light UV-protective clothing and apply sunscreen
  • DO offer a bottle or a drink more often to replace fluids
  • DO keep their skin cool with a misting fan or damp cloth
  • DO offer hydrating foods on hot days such as watermelon, blueberries, cucumbers, and bananas
  • DO provide drinks with electrolytes for older babies 6 months and older (such as, coconut water or cucumber water)
  • DO NOT cover baby with blanket in car seat or stroller- that actually increases the temp inside the car seat

I would also suggest that all caregivers keep a bottle of an oral rehydration solution (ORS) to have on hand just in case. These solutions have precise ratios of electrolytes and are more effective than sports drinks. For children under the age of 1, please consult your pediatrician before giving it to the child

However, babies under 6 months old should be given breastmilk or formula if they have mild dehydration. Do not give them water as it can further exacerbate the problem of low levels of minerals in their bodies and water is not recommended under 6 months.

Kristin: Thank you so much Kallia! These are important reminders as we head into summer. I’ll definitely be putting these tips into practice since we spend a lot of time outside. Like Kallia said, dehydration and heat-related illness can be prevented in babies by taking simple steps. Such as, avoiding extreme heat, dressing them appropriately, and providing plenty of fluids. If you notice any signs of heat stroke in your children or grandchildren, please seek medical attention immediately and call their pediatrician for any symptoms of heat exhaustion or severe dehydration.

As always, for a copy of this episode and additional resources on this topic, visit WVIK.org/wellness.

Thank you for listening! This has been Kristin Bogdonas, nutrition & wellness educator for University of Illinois Extension, serving Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Stark Counties.

Wellness Wake Up Call is produced by WVIK in partnership with University of Illinois Extension, and sponsored by The Planning Center in Moline, assisting men and women with financial wellness and preparation for life's transitions, including retirement planning, college savings, marital changes, and estate planning.

Additional resources:

Pegah, Pediatric Nutrition – Hydrating Foods for Babies and Toddlers

Children’s Health – Signs of Heat Stroke in Children

Very Well Family – Dehydration in Newborn and Infants: Signs, Causes, and Prevention

Kristin Bogdonas believes that everyone deserves access to fresh, affordable food and is committed to helping people improve their health literacy. In this digital age it can be difficult to decipher what nutrition information is accurate and what is hype. Connecting people with factual information and evidenced-based programs will help people build the skills and attain the knowledge necessary for positive behavior change. Although nutrition is important for a long and healthy life, one should not overlook the other dimensions of health required for overall wellbeing; physical, mental, emotional, vocational, spiritual, environmental and social. Each dimension impacting the next.