After being locked inside a school building for six-plus hours a day, summer beckons kids who are burnt out on the classroom to spend every possible minute outside. There’s nothing parents love more than hearing squeals from the kiddie pool or the screech of sneakers on the tennis court as children leave their devices behind for hours of play in the sun. While all of this activity is great news for families there’s a hard-to-identify danger caregivers need to stay alert for: dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when the amount of fluid that is lost from sweat and normal bodily functions surpasses the amount of liquids being ingested. While it may sound relatively benign, if it goes undetected and untreated, dehydration can lead to decreased cognitive ability, cardiovascular distress, and in rare cases death.
Tips for Avoiding Dehydration
Kids aren’t great at monitoring their own needs, so it’s important for parents to stay aware of their child’s fluid intake throughout the day. Here are useful tips for helping your young athlete stay hydrated:
- Make sure your child drinks a large glass of water with every meal.
- Stick a water bottle in your kid’s bag before they head out to camp or the tennis courts.
- Sneak fluids into your child’s meal with watery treats like oranges, watermelons, and cucumbers.
- If your child isn’t a fan of water, fill the fridge with tasty juices and sports drinks.
- Remind your child to drink water every 10 to 15 minutes when participating in any form of exercise (including active play.)
Signs of Dehydration
It’s impossible to keep an eye on your kids all of the time. Look for signs that indicate dehydration because the sooner you identify the condition, the faster you can treat it. The following are common early signs:
- Complaints of increased thirst
- Decreased or ceases output of urine
- Dry skin
As the condition worsens, so do the symptoms. The following are symptoms that occur if dehydration is left untreated.
- Urine turns a dark yellow or amber color
- Blood pressure drop
- Fever sets in
- Skin loses elasticity
- Dizziness prevents your child from standing
- Lethargy and confusion set in
In severe cases, dehydration can lead to seizures, shock, and a coma
If you think your child may be dehydrated, getting them out of the sun and heat immediately is important. Once they are in a cool environment, have them rest and drink plenty of fluids. While water helps, you should also have them drink pre-mixed rehydration drinks. These rehydration drinks can be found at your local grocery store, and they have many electrolytes required for the body to recover.
If you are unable to get a rehydration drink, supplement sips of water with sips of fruit juices, salty broths, or nibbles of fruit.
If you think your child may have a severe case of dehydration, call your doctor. They may need to receive fluids through an IV. If your child experiences any of the following, take them directly to the hospital:
- Eight hours without passing urine
- Weak or rapid pulse
- Nausea that prevents them from drinking fluids
Summer is undoubtedly one of the best times of the years for families. Getting kids out to play for hours on end is the goal. Make sure to protect your child from a bout of dehydration by keeping them hydrated while they are in your care, watching for signs and symptoms, and reminding them to take breaks from the heat. These simple tactics guarantee long sunny days full of smiles ahead.
Check out more of our tips to have a safe and fun summer.