Triple digit temperatures and heat advisories plague Texas summers.
It’s especially critical for children to stay well-hydrated. They’re more susceptible to dehydration due to smaller skin surface areas and sweat glands that are not fully developed, making it more difficult for their bodies to cool themselves down. Also, children don’t always recognize the early stages of thirst, which can make them particularly vulnerable to becoming dehydrated when losing more bodily fluids while being active.
If your children participate in sports or often play outside, here are some simple tips to follow to keep them hydrated and safe:
1. Drink up! For every 15 minutes of outdoor activity, children should drink about four ounces of water (approximately four gulps).
2. Consume thirst-quenching snacks. After 30 to 45 minutes of outdoor play, children should ingest some salt and potassium to help protect against electrolyte loss and promote hydration. Some examples of refueling snacks include pretzels, goldfish, oranges, bananas and strawberries. Using food to supply the glucose and electrolytes versus sugary sports drinks actually helps with the fluid absorption and prevents sloshing or an upset stomach from drinking too much fluid too quickly.
3. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. When playing outside, children should wear clothes made with moisture wicking fabric. This modern material pulls moisture from the body to the exterior of the shirt where it can evaporate more easily.
4. Make smoothies and homemade popsicles. Children should drink half of their fluids from water and the other half should come from milk, 100 percent fruit juice, smoothies or homemade popsicles using real fruit.
5. Wear sun protective gear. Sporting a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher will help protect children from harsh UV rays.
6. Avoid soda. Carbonated water mixed with fruit juice is a great alternative to soda.
It’s important to note that heat stroke typically happens during shorter intense activities, such as playing soccer or tag. If your child experiences dizziness, nausea or confusion, they should stop exercising immediately and seek medical attention.