How to Recognize and Prevent Heat-Related Illness
Stage 1 - Heat Stress - At this stage, the body is overworked and having trouble cooling off. When parents observe any of these symptoms, they should immediately get their kids into the shade or an airconditioned car and give them water. Symptoms include:
- Reduced coordination
- Slower thinking
- Less caution
Stage 2 - Heat Exhaustion - At this stage, the body is getting severely dehydrated. Immediate attention is required and parents should consider taking kids to the hospital if any symptoms do not seem to go away after the kid starts cooling down and drinking fluids. Symptoms include:
- Heavy sweating
- Intense thirst
- Loss of coordination
- Impaired judgment
- Loss of appetite
- Tingling in hands or feet
- Cool moist skin
- Weak and rapid pulse
Stage 3 - Heat Stroke - At this stage, the body's ability to cool off has shut down. This is a life threatening emergency and children should be taken to the hospital at once, time is critical. Symptoms include:
- Dry skin - no sweating
- Red skin
- Rapid pulse
- difficulties breathing
- Bizarre behavior
- Constricted pupils
Kids and parents can both suffer a heat illness, but everyone can take a few simple precautions:
- Condition yourself for working in hot environments - start slowly then build up to more physical work. Allow your body to adjust over a few days.
- Drink lots of liquids. Don't wait until you're thirsty, by then, there's a good chance you're already on your way to being dehydrated. Electrolyte drinks are good for replacing both water and minerals lost through sweating. Never drink alcohol, and avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee and pop.
- Take a break if you notice you're getting a headache or you start feeling overheated. Cool off for a few minutes before going back to work.
- Wear light weight, light colored clothing when working out in the sun.
- Take advantage of fans and air-conditioners.
- Get enough sleep at night.
Source: Oklahoma State University
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