Heatwave Alert: Know How Extreme Heat Affects Children, Tips To Protect Them

Heatwaves are periods of unusually high temperatures as compared to what is normally expected over a region during a certain period of time. IMD has warned of heatwave to severe heatwave conditions in parts of northwest and east India. Children are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses due to their smaller bodies and higher metabolic rates. Read on to know how to keep children protected during heatwaves.
Know How Extreme Heat Affects Children, Tips To Protect Them

Know How Extreme Heat Affects Children, Tips To Protect Them

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of heatwave to severe heatwave conditions in parts of northwest and east India. IMD on Tuesday said that heatwave conditions will be there in parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana-Chandigarh-Delhi, Jharkhand and Odisha from June 11-15.
Heatwaves are periods of unusually high temperatures as compared to what is normally expected over a region during a certain period of time. Therefore, the temperatures at which heatwaves are declared differ from place to place based on the usual temperature of that region. The impact of heatwaves can be aggravated by several other meteorological factors such as high humidity, high wind speed and duration of heatwave events among others.
Heatwaves can lead to several health issues, from dehydration and digestive issues to heatstroke and more.
Dr. Amit Gupta, Consultant Cardiology at Manipal Hospital Dwarka says that heat stroke usually occurs when the body fails to regulate the temperature, which leads to life-threatening conditions. Both, heatstroke and irregular heartbeat conditions can cause an increased heart rate. However, an irregular heartbeat typically involves palpitations and an erratic rhythm, whereas heat stroke usually results in a consistently rapid heart rate. Distinguishing both conditions is important, while both require attention, heat stroke is an emergency that demands immediate medical intervention.
Children are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses due to their smaller bodies and higher metabolic rates, making them vulnerable to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) shares why children have an increased risk during a heatwave. It says that children are more vulnerable to the short- and long-term effects of heat stress. Children sweat less per kilogram than adults and have a higher metabolism, which means they get hot quickly. “They also spend more time outdoors than adults for play, sports and other activities, putting them at greater risk for heat exposure and injury. While playing or exercising, children are less likely to rehydrate, which can be dangerous and even fatal especially when it is excessively hot outside.”
Not just children but even infants have an increased risk during heatwaves.
“Infants and young children cannot regulate their body temperature as well as adults because their bodies have more internal heat to begin with and absorb more heat from the environment.
“Babies’ immune systems are still developing, making them less capable of fighting off the symptoms of heat stress.”

Tips To Protect Children During Heatwaves

  • Stay Hydrated: Encourage your kids to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially water, to stay hydrated during hot weather.
  • Dress Appropriately: Dress your kids in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing made of breathable fabrics like cotton or linen to help them stay cool and comfortable.
  • Shade: Limit outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day, typically between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s intensity is highest.
  • Apply Sunscreen: Protect your kids’ skin from harmful UV rays by applying sunscreen with a high SPF before they go outside.
  • Cooling Measures: Use cooling measures to help lower body temperature and prevent overheating during heatwaves. Use fans or air conditioning in your home to create a comfortable indoor environment.
  • Monitor Physical Activity: Keep a check on your kids’ physical activity levels during hot weather and adjust the activities accordingly. Avoid strenuous exercise or outdoor sports during the hottest parts of the day.
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