Ask Dr. Dina: How do I know if my baby is overheating?

Summer is a great time for fun, but with the heat comes some risk. Here's how to protect your little one from overheating.

Photo: iStockphoto

I love spending time outside in the summer, but I’m concerned about my baby overheating. What are some signs she might be getting too hot?

My kids and I love the heat, and living in Canada, we only get these warm temperatures for a few short weeks a year. So when we can, we take advantage. But too much sun and heat can prove dangerous, even deadly, as in the case of heat stroke.

Prevention is key. Ensure your child gets frequent cool-down breaks in the shade or indoors, depending on the temperature. Babies overheat quickly, and bigger kids often run around, so they’re likely to work up a sweat and need to rehydrate. Have cold water available for kids to sip throughout the day. Dress your child in a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses, and ensure she is wearing breathable, light, non-restrictive clothes.

Keep an eye out for symptoms of heat-related illness, such as heat cramps—severe cramps that begin suddenly in the hands, calves and feet, and cause hard, tense muscles—which are caused by electrolyte imbalances from sweating and water loss. And be wary of nausea, fatigue, headaches, thirst, confusion, dizziness, fainting, irritability, agitation or sweating followed by clammy, cold skin. These can be signs of heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion can quickly escalate to heat stroke, which produces those same symptoms, accompanied by hot, flush, dry skin; a rapid heart rate; decreased sweating; difficulty breathing; decreased urination; fever; confusion; loss of consciousness or seizures. Heat stroke can occur very suddenly, especially in young children. If your child experiences any symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke, call 911 immediately. Delaying treatment can be fatal.

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