Staying cool this summer
July 13, 2009
by Jenni Sebora

Summer is the season that most children look forward to, and they seem to always be on the go. Besides bike riding and other unorganized free play, children may also be involved in a city-sponsored recreation program.

Increasingly, children are involved in organized summer sporting events, such as baseball, softball, and soccer. Even basketball seems to be stretching into the summer with amateur leagues and three-on-three tournaments occurring.

But with all of this summer activity comes the chance of heat-related injuries.

A niece of mine was recently playing in an organized youth softball game on an evening when the temperature was in the mid 80s and the dew-point was around 70.

As luck would have it, it was her turn to play catcher so on top of the weather, she had the equipment to contend with. As the game progressed, she became sweaty and flushed and soon became dizzy.

Luckily, there were people at the game familiar with the signs of heat exhaustion, and they were able to get my niece the help she needed.

According to the American Red Cross, the symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

• heavy sweating

• headache

• dizziness and weakness

• nausea

• body temperature may be near normal

• cool, moist, pale, or flushed skin

Heat exhaustion can be treated by cooling the person – having them move to a cooler location and resting comfortably. Gradually, give the person non-caffeinated and non-alcoholic liquids to drink.

Remove tight clothing and give the person a wet towel or cloth to apply to the body to cool it. If the person begins vomiting or refuses liquids, call 9-1-1.

The symptoms of heat stroke, a more serious medical condition, may include:

• high body temperature, up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit

• vomiting

• skin may be moist, but the skin may also be hot and dry, as the person has stopped sweating

• rapid, weak pulse and rapid, shallow breathing

• decreased alertness or loss of consciousness

Because of the serious complications that can arise from heat stroke, it is important that medical help or 9-1-1 is called right away.

Keep the person lying down and attempt to cool the person by applying wet cloths to the body or wrapped ice packs to the person’s pulse points.

Check for breathing problems and keep the person comfortable until help arrives.

Of course, prevention is nine-tenths of the cure. To help prevent heat-related illnesses, common sense can be a great guide; drink plenty of fluids, stay in the shade, wear lightweight, comfortable clothing; slow down and avoid activity during the warmest part of the day, and of course, use sunscreen.

Have fun and stay cool this summer!