It’s been crazy hot out this summer and it’s a good time to make sure we are all aware of hot to keep our kids safe in dangerous temperatures. We all know to keep ourselves and our kids hydrated, but what about other heat illnesses? Let’s bring some light to these lesser (but just as dangerous) risks during the hottest days of summer.

Heat cramps are a mild heat illness that can be easily treated. These intense muscle spasms usually develop after a child has been exercising for a while and has lost large amounts of fluid and salt from sweating. While heat cramps are more common in children who perform in the heat, they can also occur when it’s not hot (for example, during ice hockey or swimming). Children who sweat a lot or have a high concentration of salt in their sweat may be more likely to get heat cramps. Heat cramps can largely be avoided by being adequately conditioned, getting used to the heat and humidity slowly, and being sure a child eats and drinks properly.

Signs and Symptoms
◆ Intense pain (not associated with pulling or straining a muscle)
◆ Persistent muscle contractions that continue during and after exercise

◆ The child should be given a sports drink to help replace fluid and sodium losses.
◆ Light stretching, relaxation and massage of the cramped muscles may help.

When can I play again?
A child may be active again when the cramp has gone away and he or she feels and acts ready to participate. You can help decrease the risk of recurring heat cramps by checking whether the child needs to change eating and drinking habits, become more fit, or get better adjusted to the heat.

Heat exhaustion is a moderate heat illness that occurs when a child continues to be physically active even after he or she starts suffering from ill effects of the heat, like dehydration. The child’s body struggles to keep up with the demands, leading to heat exhaustion.

Signs and Symptoms
◆ Child finds it hard or impossible to keep playing
◆ Loss of coordination, dizziness or fainting
◆ Dehydration
◆ Profuse sweating or pale skin
◆ Headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
◆ Stomach/intestinal cramps or persistent muscle cramps

◆ Move child to a shaded or air-conditioned area.
◆ Remove any extra clothing and equipment.
◆ Cool the child with cold water, fans or cold towels (replace towels frequently).
◆ Have child lie comfortably with legs raised above heart level.
◆ If the child is not nauseated or vomiting, have him or her drink chilled water or sports drink.
◆ The child’s condition should improve rapidly, but if there is little or no improvement, take the child for emergency medical treatment.

When can I play again?
A child should not be allowed to return to play until all symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration are gone. Avoid intense practice in heat until at least the next day, and if heat exhaustion was severe, wait longer. If the child received emergency medical treatment, he or she should not be allowed to return until his or her doctor approves and gives specific return-to-play instructions. Parents and coaches should rule out any other conditions or illnesses that may predispose the child for continued problems with heat exhaustion. Correct these problems before the child returns to full participation in the heat, especially for sports with equipment.