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How parents can help their kids avoid several health hazards caused by the heat

MILWAUKEE -- Stock up on sunscreen! Dr. Jennifer Thomas with Aurora Health Care joins Real Milwaukee to talk about all the hazards kids face in the heat of the sun -- and how we can help keep them healthy.

One of the biggest potential hazards of the summer for kids is sunburn.

  • Children under 6 months of age should not have sunscreen applied to them. They should stay in the shade or wear breathable fabric that covers their skin.
  • When applying sunscreen to your child, be sure to do so 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Then, the most important thing, reapply! Even if the bottle says it`s water-resistant, you still need to reapply after being in the water. Reapply every two hours your child is outside, even if they haven`t been in the water.
  • Sunscreen should be 'broad spectrum' which blocks both UVA and UVB sunlight
  • Don`'t forget the sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to protect the eyes, face and neck.
  • There is no such thing as a 'healthy' tan - even a tan is a sign of sun damage.

The heat can be dangerous for children because they are smaller than adults, so they have less body surface area per pound of weight and their bodies may not be able to regulate temperature as well as adults. Young athletes outside at sports practices like baseball and soccer are at particular risk of overheating and dehydration.

Signs of dehydration in children include:

  • Thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling very hot

If you think your child is dehydrated, get the child out of the sun and into a cool place if possible. Offer cool fluids like water or Gatorade. Put cool, wet cloths on the child`s skin. If these symptoms progress, it could become heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Warning signs of overheating or heatstroke in children include:
Heatstroke is a medical emergency for children, but there are signs before it gets to that point. At that time, the child likely has heat cramps or heat exhaustion. As a parent, you need to be able to spot these signs before it gets to heatstroke.

Signs of a child heading for heatstroke include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Cool, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased sweating
  • Fainting