NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The first real heat wave of the summer may be coming, and that means remembering how to prevent heat-related problems.
As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, the number one heat hazard for kids is dehydration, especially when they get so excited playing they may forget to drink enough.
Kids who jump into playground sprinklers and play in cool water have the right idea about keeping cool in hot weather. Jenna Sarhan, 7, knows exactly what to do in addition.
“I go and there’s a water fountain, and I go drink some water,” she said.
In most cases, that is still the best choice – plain water, generally. It is only if the kids have been playing and sweating for hours that they may need a little extra, meaning electrolytes.
That is something to replace the salt – mostly sodium and potassium – that we all lose in our sweat.
“There are some things like coconut water, any of the other drinks that are marketed as water with electrolytes, that would at least be maybe a little bit better than water itself,” said Dr. Peter Shearer of Mount Sinai Hospital. “You can also find things like smart water that are marketed as water with some electrolytes – so those are adequate as well. Vitamin Water would be another brand.”
Shearer, the medical director at the Mount Sinai emergency room, said it is rare to see kids come in with a serious heat illness – because kids are pretty good at drinking fluids when they get thirsty. But it is still a good idea for parents to be vigilant.
“They should be asking you every once in a while to go to the bathroom.” Shearer said. “They should be urinating throughout the course of the day.”
Parents should also watch for signs of dehydration such as headache, irritability, reduced physical ability, confusion or reduced thinking ability.
That is when it is important to get a child into a cool spot and get them to drink. But do not confuse energy drinks with sports drinks – energy drinks have caffeine and a lot of sugar, both of which can make matters worse.
Even sports drinks have a fair amount of sugar in them, which you might want if you are running a marathon or a soccer match for kids. Sports drinks may be diluted with plain water, or lo-cal drinks can be substituted.
One more good way to hydrate kids is ice pops. Again, just look for the lo-cal kinds.