Looking after your little one during the heatwave



We love summer here at The Butterfly Patch. But this week’s high temperatures have got us hiding from the sunshine… and for good reason!


Babies and young children are very susceptible to high temperatures as they can’t control their body temperatures as well as adults. They don’t sweat as much and so can be at risk in heatwaves.


Heat-related illness can range from mild heat stress to potentially life-threatening heatstroke, but the main risk for both children and adults is dehydration.


But if precautions are taken, children are unlikely to be adversely affected by the hot weather.


In this guide, we will look at symptoms of heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke to look out for as well as things you can do to keep your little one cool.


Let’s dive straight in!



Heat Stress


Children suffering from heat stress may start acting differently or show signs of discomfort/irritability. These will worsen If they participate in physical activity and if left untreated can lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.


Heat Exhaustion


Symptoms may vary but typically include one or more of the following: tiredness, dizziness, headache, nausea, red and dry skin, and confusion.


Heatstroke


When anyone is exposed to very high temperatures, the mechanism that controls body temperature can shut off. Heatstroke can develop if heat stress/exhaustion is left untreated, but sometimes it can also occur randomly without warning.


Symptoms may include a high temperature, red/hot skin, on and off sweating, increased heartbeat, fast shallow breathing, confusion, lack of coordination and loss of consciousness.


If you notice any of the above symptoms, be sure to follow these steps:


· Move your little one to a cool room and encourage them to drink cool water.

· Cool your child as quickly as possible e.g., place cool or wrapped ice packs around the neck and armpits, wrap your child in a cool, wet sheet and assist with a fan.


If your little one loses consciousness or doesn’t respond to the treatment within 30mins dial 999 to request an ambulance.



But what can you do to prevent these in the first place?


During periods of high temperature, you can take the following steps to protect your child from the heat:


When outdoors


· Make sure your little one doesn’t take part in vigorous physical activity, especially when temperatures reach 30 degrees.

· Encourage your child to stay in the shade as much as possible.

· Your little one should wear loose, light-coloured clothing and wear a sunhat.

· Make sure your child wears sunscreen if they are out for more than 20 minutes.

· Provide them with plenty of water and encourage them to drink more than usual.


When indoors


· Open windows as early in the morning as possible or leave them open overnight.

· Almost close windows or close blinds when outdoor air becomes warmer than indoors but ensure there is still room for ventilation.

· Avoid using electronic lighting.

· Switch off electronic devices including monitors and computers (even when devices are left on stand-by they can still emit heat).

· Use a fan to increase airflow BUT if temperatures reach over 35 degrees, they won’t be effective and may worsen dehydration.

· Encourage your child to eat normally and drink plenty of cool water.


Important reminder if you have pets


Pets are just as susceptible to being affected by the heat as children, see advice from the RSPCA for dog care below or click here for cats and other animals.



And finally, here are some resources with further information and tips – including helping your little one sleep in the heat.


Tommys – keeping your baby cool


NHS – keeping your baby safe in the sun


NCT – keeping children cool in hot weather


Trouble sleeping – 10 top tips to help your child sleep in the heatwave


Made for mums – how to keep your children cool as they sleep in hot weather


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