Kids have ‘more risks for consequences’ in heat: Georgetown, Oakville Chief of Paediatrics

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Published July 6, 2023 at 2:52 pm

Dr. Jonathan Sam, Chief of Paediatrics at OTMH & GH, shares helpful information to help you protect your children from heat this summer.

July has arrived, school is out and kids are determined to head outside to play in the backyard and take full advantage of the warm temperatures and sunny skies across Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills.

With summer in full swing, the blistering heat is also here and the last couple of days are a good example of why parents have to make sure to keep a close eye on their children as temperatures soar to dangerous levels and can put your child at risk.

“Summer’s here and it’s super exciting, but it also means the kids are outside more and there are more risks for consequences of being in the heat,” Dr. Jonathan Sam, Chief of Paediatrics at Oakville Memorial Trafalgar Hospital and Georgetown Hospital, said in a Halton Healthcare video message sharing helpful information on how to protect your children from heat this summer.

Extreme heat waves and heat related illnesses can be dangerous for infants and children. A severe weather alert has been issued for Halton Region as maximum temperatures are expected to reach 29 to 32 degrees Celsius with a Humidex reading of 37 to 40 degrees.

Parents have to remember that their children are not as compatible to the heat as adults.

“First things first, kids are not little adults,” explained Dr. Sam. “They just love to play, and they play and they play and they don’t know how to stop. That’s one thing that will put them at risk.”

“The other interesting thing is that kids get dehydrated much faster. Adults, when they’re severely hydrated, can lose up to nine per cent of their body weight, but for kids that number is 15 per cent. So, you can really see how it can impact their health when they’re dehydrated.”

That’s especially true, said Dr. Sam, if your child has a chronic condition like asthma.

“That’s something to keep in mind,” he added.

Dr. Sam explained there are things parents can watch for in their children when it’s hot outside. Signs that will tell them their child is getting too dehydrated or has had heat exposure for the day.

“Some of the things can be really scuttle, just like being really irritable and having tantrums,” he said. “Maybe a bit sleepier than usual and (having) low energy.

“But it can be less scuttle than that. It can be that they’re a little clumsy when they’re running around, a bit dizzy, lightheaded.”

Cramps or headaches can be a sign as well. The local doctor said some children will actually start having nausea or vomit as a sign that they’re actually too dehydrated and starting to have signs of a heat stroke.

“You might even be more concerned if your kid is not sweating anymore or that their urine is quite dark in colour, especially if they have a fever as a result of heat and not something else infectious,” he said.

Halton Healthcare officials remind the public it’s vital that if they are caring for a child who has a high body temperature and is confused, unconscious, or has stopped sweating, to call 911 immediately.

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