Dr. Zaslow shares tips on how to keep kids safe from extreme heat temperatures.
Anyone can be impacted by high temperatures, but they can be especially tough on children. Dr. Tracy Zaslow, a pediatrician and primary care sports medicine specialist at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, agrees. “Kids’ bodies produce heat faster than adults and they can’t get rid of that heat as quickly,” she explains. As a result, children can get sick in extreme heat, and do so faster than many adults, she says.
Extreme heat can cause a range of potential health issues, including dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke — a medical emergency, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) warns. Children may also become more irritable than usual in heat, the organization says.
The AAP says that a heat index at or above 90 degrees poses a “significant health risk” to kids. Zaslow recommends that families use the heat index to make decisions about whether or not to go outside, if they can.
When the heat index is high and there isn’t air conditioning at home, Zaslow suggests taking kids someplace that’s cool indoors, like a local shopping mall, library or cooling center. “Even spending an hour or two in air conditioning can help,” she says. Electric fans can be helpful, too, but if the temperature is 90 degrees or above, it may not prevent heat illness, Zaslow says. “It just circulates the hot air at that point,” she says.