I know its important for children to play outside every day, but is it safe to play outside in extreme temperatures? How do I know when it is too hot for outdoor play?
Physical activity is a very important part of a healthy lifestyle. As temperatures climb toward 100 degrees, the risk of heat-related illness increases, creating an obstacle to outdoor play.
According to the N.C. Division of Public Health, there were 270 emergency room visits due to heat-related illness between May 1 and June 23 of this year. The three main forms of heat-related illness are heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Children, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure or heart disease are at a greater risk of heat-related injuries.
The best way to prevent heat-related illness is to plan outdoor activities in the early morning before temperatures begin to rise. Increase fluid intake and take frequent breaks indoors to cool down. If you do not have air-conditioning, consider spending time in air-conditioned buildings such as malls or libraries during the hottest times of the day.
Parents, coaches and camp counselors should be aware of the early signs of over-heating and dehydration to prevent heat-related injuries. Some of these include headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, pallor, dizziness and muscle cramps. If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to get them to a cool environment and encourage cold fluid intake. Left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. If symptoms have not resolved after one hour, seek medical treatment.