WITH temperatures set to soar this weekend, Brits will be eager to get some sunshine.
While everyone enjoys being under the rays, it’s important to keep an eye on babies and children.
Babies are particularly at risk of heat stroke, as well as the elderly.
Heat-related illnesses can be a result of hot weather, being sat in a hot car, or not getting enough fluids.
And sunburn, from sitting in the sun too long, can be agonising for little ones.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of Patientaccess.com, said: "Because of babies’ tiny size, and because their natural heat-regulating mechanisms aren’t fully developed, they can overheat much more easily than adults.
"So it’s essential to keep your baby cool and know the signs that your baby is overheating."
Hannah Signy, First Aid Education Manager at the British Red Cross said: "Children and babies sweat less than adults, which can make it more difficult to cool down, and children also generate more heat during exercise.
"It can take as little as 15 to 30 minutes for babies and young children to get sunburnt in hot weather, without protection.
"How quickly they overheat can depend on factors like humidity, whether there’s good ventilation and how active they’re being. If your child is unwell, this can also put them at greater risk of overheating.
"On hot weekends like this one, it’s important to keep a close eye on your kids to make sure they are enjoying the sun safely."
A “Bermuda blowtorch” heatwave will see the mercury soaring to a sizzling 32C this weekend.
So make sure you know the signs your baby is struggling:
Signs of heat stroke
Heat stroke is a very serious condition and the most concerning of all heat-related illness.
It occurs when the body's temperature becomes dangerously high and is no longer able to cool down.
Left untreated, heat stroke can lead to complications, such as brain damage and organ failure.
It's also possible to die from heat stroke; because the body is hotter, it needs to circulate blood faster to keep it cool, which puts strain on the heart and lungs.
The signs of heat stroke include dry skin, vertigo, confusion, headache, thirst, nausea, rapid shallow breathing (hyperventilation) and muscle cramps.
But a baby can’t tell you if it has muscle cramps or feels sick.
Usually a parent can tell if their baby or young child has heat stroke by watching for unusual behaviour.
Look out for the following:
- Apparent dizziness or confusion
- Lethargy or unresponsiveness (children can also be floppy or sleepy)
- Feeling very warm to the touch particularly around the neck and ears
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Rapid, strong heart rate
- Change in sweat: the skin can feel dry
- Not wanting to eat or drink
If your baby or child is suspectd to have heat stroke you should:
- Immediately move them to a cool area
- Increase ventilation by opening windows or using a fan
- Don't give them medication such as aspirin or paracetamol
- Bathe the skin with cool, but not cold, water (15-18°C) or cover the body with cool, damp towels or sheets
- If your child is younger than six months give them plenty of breast milk or formula and for older children give sips of water
Hannah said: "If you’re still worried about your child’s symptoms, call 111 for advice or 999 in an emergency."
How can you prevent your baby overheating?
Phil Day, Pharmacy2U’s Superintendent Pharmacist, urged to protect babies in the hot weather with three important things.
He told the Sun: “Keep babies cool and out of direct sunlight as much as possible; give them plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration; and keep them cool.”
He added: “Keep to the shade, particularly for babies under six months, and if there is exposure to sunlight, use a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, and re-apply regularly.
“Use a sunhat with a wide brim. Apply a sponge with cool water if your baby seems too warm.
“You can run a cool bath before bedtime, and keep your baby’s bedroom curtains closed during the day.
“Avoid excessive bedclothes, and consider having a fan in the room, and a thermometer with the aim of keeping the room in the region of 16-20 degrees.
“Ask your pharmacist, health visitor, or doctor for more advice if needed.”
Hannah Signy, First Aid Education Manager at the British Red Cross said: "On very hot days, try to keep your children out of the sun as much as possible, especially between 11am and 3pm when the sun is at its hottest.
"Babies who are less than 6 months old should be kept out of direct sunlight at all times.
"Remember not to leave blankets, clothes or any other covering over prams and buggies – this can stop air from circulating and cause overheating."
The British Red Cross has an app – Baby and Child First Aid App – which has lots of tips and advice about keeping your child safe in hot weather.
Signs of heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is not as serious as heat stroke.
It can develop over several days of exposure to high temperatures and a lack of fluids.
Typically heat exhaustion is seen in the elderly, people with high blood pressure or those working or exercising in hot places.
It can lead to heat stroke if not treated.
The signs to look for are very similar to heat stroke but with some slight differences in the feeling of the skin and heart rate.
Look out for these signs in your baby:
- General weakness
- Heavy sweating
- A weak and fast heart rate
- Pale, cold, clammy skin
- A high temperature
Adults will also notice a headache, dizziness and confusion, loss of appetite, cramps in the arms, legs or stomach, feeling very thirsty.
Signs of sunburn
Babies can also get suburnt, which is less serious and short-lived.
The most obvious sign of sunburn in babies is red skin.
But the skin will also be hot to the touch, even if you try to cool your baby down.
If the sunburn is severe, your baby’s skin may blister and become swollen and they may develop a fever.
Get NHS 111 advice if:
- The sunburn is over a large area
- There is blistering or swelling of the skin
- The baby has chills or a high temperature of 37.5C or above (children under five)
- There are symptoms of dizziness, headaches and feeling sick (possible heat exhaustion).
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