For parents, it is important to understand that the kids may be more affected by the heat than any adult feels.
Children are more susceptible to illnesses brought on by the heat because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than those of adults.
To learn why that happens and how parents may support their children's health, we consulted with medical experts.
Children are at a greater risk of heat-related illnesses
Because they don't sweat as much as adults do, babies and children have a lower ability to regulate their body temperature in hot weather. Unintentionally, parents can do things that raise their children's and babies' body temperatures, such as taking them outside on hot days, wearing them in multiple layers, shutting off the air conditioner and not bathing them every day.
Children are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses because of their increased surface area to body mass ratio, which is one of the primary reasons why children's bodies warm up more quickly than adults'.
The higher ratio affects the water loss from the body and perspiration, which are both higher. Additionally, kids do not have the maturity to know when to stop exerting themselves in hot weather and prefer to play outside more. Also, they are unable to care for themselves in the heat, particularly when it comes to rehydrating.
How can I tell whether the heat is having an impact on my baby?
Even infants can be affected by heat; they may express this by caressing their hands and feet, appearing uneasy and uncomfortable, wailing nonstop, or showing signs of extreme thirst.
The most obvious symptoms in babies are when they appear sick and pale and have fewer wet diapers. For older children, you should be on the lookout for indicators of dehydration such as extreme fatigue and lack of energy.
Tips for parents to apply during extreme heat conditions
1. Stay indoors with children during the hottest part of the day.
2. Give them a bath/shower every day.
3. Set the air conditioner’s temperature to what makes them feel comfortable, while wearing a single piece of clothing.
4. When outdoors, stay under covered or shaded areas.
5. Use a sun block cream, preferably above 50 SPF (avoid regular use on children below the age of six months).
6. Use light coloured clothes without overdressing.
7. If your child shows any signs of dehydration, immediately hydrate him or her by frequent breastmilk or plenty of cool water, remove their clothes, bathe them with cool water and turn on the air conditioner at an appropriate temperature. If the child still looks the same, immediately seek medical attention.
8. Drink plenty of fluids during vigorous or outdoor activities, preferably water or sports drinks.
9. Practice sports and vigorous activity during the cooler times of the day.
10. Increase time spent outdoors slowly and gradually to get your child's body get used to the heat.
11. Teach your child to warm up and cool down before and after exercising.
12. Move to a cool place, rest and remove excess clothing when heat-related illness is suspected.
Things you should not do
1. Never leave your baby in a car – unattended, even for a short time. The temperature in a parked car can quickly climb to dangerous levels.
2. Do not hydrate children with soda or drinks that contain caffeine.
3. Do not cover babies in strollers to avoid sun exposure, as it can expose them to extreme heat.
4. If the temperature is higher than 35 degrees celcius, do not rely on a fan alone to keep them cool.
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