It's important to take precautions to ensure you and your child is protected from dehydration and heat exhaustion in Dubai this summer.
9 May 2018| Last updated on 10 July 2018
Here comes the summer…with long very hot days in Dubai come summer sports -- swimming, tennis, football practice, cycling. Children should be encouraged to exercise to keep fit but it is essential to take a few sensible precautions to ensure your child is protected from sunburn, dehydration and heat exhaustion in Dubai.
1. What causes dehydration?
Exposure to high temperatures and direct sun for prolonged periods with high humidity and exercise make the body loose fluid, putting a child at high risk of dehydration.
A child's body surface area makes up a much greater proportion of his overall weight than an adult's, which means children face a much greater risk of dehydration and heat-related illness.
2. What are the signs of dehydration?
Early warning signs to look out for include fatigue, thirst, dry lips and tongue, lack of energy, and feeling overheated.
Don’t wait until children feel thirsty before they drink as thirst doesn't really kick in until a child has lost 2% of their body weight as sweat.
Untreated dehydration can lead to three worse types of heat illness which need rapid action:
- Heat cramps: arm, leg and abdominal muscle cramps
- Heat exhaustion: dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, general weakness and muscle pain
- Heat stroke: can develop with temperature >40c and needs hospital treatment without delay - severe symptoms include nausea, vomiting, disorientation, delirium, lack of sweating, seizures, unconsciousness and coma
3. How do I prevent dehydration?
Offer drinks of cool water early and often ensure your child is fully hydrated. During activities make sure your child takes regular breaks to drink fluid even if they say they’re not thirsty. Always be aware of how hydrated your child is. Monitor the external temperature and take precautions ensuring children are not exposed directly to sun or play outside during hottest time of day. Encourage them to eat healthy treats such as frozen fruit lollies, chilled watermelon, strawberries, orange and cucumber slices to help them stay hydrated.
Protective clothing, wide brimmed hats and use of high factor sun creams is vital to protect their delicate skin. Buy garments with a minimal UPF of at least 30 to ensure you’re getting effective sun protection.
Use UV filtering sunglasses and sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 30 and apply frequently as directed.
Look out for warning signs - if your child's urine is dark in colour rather than clear or light yellow this indicates they may be becoming dehydrated.
4. What should I do if my child develops heat related illness?
- Ensure the child is taken out of the sun to a cool place and encourage them to drink plenty of cool fluids
- Take off excess layers of clothing
- Place cool, wet clothes on overheated skin
- Do not allow them to continue participating/playing unless they recover quickly
- If the child does not improve or can’t take fluids seek medical help
- Remember that heat stroke is always an emergency and requires immediate medical attention