Heat Stroke and Our Children

BY ON July 2, 2018

"drink some water" graphic

At my house, “Drink Some Water!” has become a family joke. I think a glass of water is the cure to everything: altitude, attitude, tummy ache, heartache, jet lag and nightmares. My sons roll their eyes: “Drink Some Water!”

But this summer, the perils of dehydration are no joke.

Around the country, summer camps are adjusting children’s outdoor activities. It is exhausting — and it can be dangerous — to play outside when temperatures climb into the 100’s. Staff members at summer camps across Central Ohio shifted plans as heat and humidity raised concerns about dehydration and heat-related health issues. At a Columbus YMCA Camp, one staffer explained,

“Today, we were alerted to a heated advisory. So, I wanted to make sure all of our camp leaders knew that we need to adjust our activities to an extent to make sure that the kids are taken care of. “Safety is number one for us … The first few weeks of camp [kids] have to learn how to keep your body hydrated. It’s just part of growing up. Learning how your body reacts to warm temperatures especially when you’re active.”

Our bodies require lots of fluids to keep sweating — we cool down as that sweat evaporates, which is why high humidity makes heat waves even more punishing; our bodies retain more heat. The Red Cross lists “heat exhaustion” signs here.

If heat exhaustion is not treated quickly, it can progress to heat stroke. That’s when the body’s temperature regulation fails. A person suffering from heat stroke can become confused, lethargic—and may have a seizure. The skin stops sweating, and body temperature can exceed 106 F. Heat stroke can damage the brain and lead to the failure of other organs.

Heat stroke can be fatal—and it is the young and the elderly who are the most vulnerable to extreme heat.

Sure, it’s summer, and summer is hot. But it isn’t usually this hot, for such long spells. This is what climate change feels like. Climate Central reported the global temperature average over the last five years (2013— 2018) has been confirmed as the highest ever on record for any five-year period.

We don’t have to choose between playgrounds and pollution. We cannot be lethargic about global warming. We must demand our representatives hold the President accountable to removing officials from office that aren’t serving the American people. We deserve an EPA administrator who will work to protect our families — that person is not Scott Pruitt. And we need a plan for global leadership in the energy technologies of the future — clean energy we don’t pay for with heat strokes.

This is urgent: If you haven’t already done so, please share this post with your friends and family. And this, too, is urgent – after all, once a mom, always a mom: Please get into the habit of drinking plenty of water, especially if you’re playing—or working—outdoors.

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TOPICS: Air Pollution, Children's Health, Climate Change, EPA, Heat and Extreme Weather, Motherhood