Heat-related illness and dehydration

Long exposure to high temperatures and/or humidity can cause serious injury or even death.

On hot or humid days, watch for symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • pale and clammy skin
  • heavy sweating
  • fatigue
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • muscle cramps
  • vomiting
  • fainting

When a child has symptoms of heat exhaustion:

  • Move the child to a cool and shaded area.
  • Parents should immediately contact the child’s doctor. Caregivers should immediately contact the child’s family and advise that the child’s physician be contacted.

To prevent heat-related illness and dehydration:

Encourage children to drink liquids and cool off frequently.

  • Children should not play outside when the heat index is greater than 32 degrees C (90 degrees F). Heat index is a number that relates humidity and air temperature. It is calculated by public health authorities and announced to the public in many communities.
  • Provide small amounts of clear liquids at least every 2 hours to help restore fluids that the body loses through evaporation.
  • Achieve quick and sanitary cooling by having children play under a sprinkler or by using cool water on paper towels to remove perspiration and oil from their skin.

How to check if a child is drinking enough fluids:

  • A child can become dehydrated long before becoming thirsty.
  • Check the child’s frequency of urination and urine color (concentration) to determine fluid needs.
  • Normally, urine should be pale yellow or colorless, and children should urinate every 2 or 3 hours.
  • Dark yellow (concentrated) urine is a sign that a child needs more fluids.