Keeping kids safe in extreme heat -®
Keeping kids safe in extreme heat
With the extreme heat conditions to be found across much of Australia recently it's important to be vigilant in keeping the children in your service safe. Babies and young children are very sensitive to high temperatures and quickly become stressed in extreme conditions.

As many children don't have the language to explain how they are physically feeling, it's important to maintain a close watch on them and to be proactive about keeping them hydrated and out of direct sunlight.

Services such as the Victorian Heat Health Alert offer a valuable source of information about extreme heat conditions by monitoring the seven day weather forecast and issuing warnings when temperatures are likely to exceed those which cause heat related illnesses.

According to KidSafe NSW there are three types of heat related illnesses:

Heat Stress

Occurs when the body cannot cool itself enough to maintain a healthy temperature. Signs of heat stress in children are very few wet nappies in 24 hours, crying without any tears, having a dry mouth, the fontanelle (soft spot in the skull) looking pushed in, eyes looking sunken, a fretful baby who is hot and dry to touch, a child who is listless or lethargic and profusely sweating. It is essential to replace lost fluids by offering drinks of water and taking action to cool down the child’s body.

Heat Exhaustion

Fatigue, dizziness, headache and nausea are common signs of heat exhaustion. These symptoms are followed by cold, pale and clammy skin, with increased breathing and pulse rates. Stomach and leg cramps may also occur. Replace lost fluids by offering drinks of water. Use first aid to cool the child. Seek medical aid if recovery is not prompt.

Heat Stroke

Signs of Heat Stroke include high body temperature, red-hot dry skin, loss of consciousness, a full bounding pulse and rapid shallow noisy breathing. Treat the child in a similar way to a child suffering from heat exhaustion (see above). Seek medical attention as a matter of urgency.

Dehydration is another condition which can strike children in extreme heat

Dehydration may be a risk if a child:
  • Seems tired and lethargic
  • Has sunken and dark eyes
  • Is irritable or crying
  • Has fewer wet nappies than usual
  • Has hot and dry skin or looks pale
  • Has a dry and coated-looking tongue and mouth
  • Has a high temperature
  • Vomits or has diarrhoea
  • Is not eating or drinking.

To avoid dehydration offer regular drinks

  • Children should be offered water at regular intervals during the day and should be prompted to drink.
  • Bottle fed babies should be offered additional fluids to their usual mealtime bottles.

Keep children cool during hot weather

It is often better to stay indoors under fans or air conditioning on a hot day. If you must go outside:
  • Dress children in light clothing and a well-fitting sun hat.
  • Apply SPF 30+ sun screen to exposed skin in advance of heading out
  • Keep offering children drinks
  • Stay in the shade and minimise the amount of time you are outside.

Keep children cool when they sleep

Children sleep more comfortably if you:
  • Let them sleep in the coolest part of the building. Think about rejigging the usual sleeping arrangements if necessary.
  • Make sure air can circulate freely around the children and minimise coverings.
  • Consider hanging wet towels over chairs or windows to cool the air.
  • Use fans in the environment but not aimed directly at sleeping children.
  • Avoid using soft pillows or mattress that children sink down in to.
  • Strip excess clothing when putting children down for a nap.

Things to remember

  • Babies and children can overheat quickly in hot weather.
  • Give babies and young children extra drinks in hot weather.
  • Dress babies and young children in cool clothing and apply hats and sunscreen.
  • Let babies and young children sleep in the coolest room in the house.
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Care For Kids Internet Services Pty Ltd
ABN 55 104 145 735
PO Box 543 Balmain NSW 2041

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