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Michigan health official provides tips for keeping kids hydrated during summer camp

Tips on keeping kids safe during the summer heat
Tips on keeping kids safe during the summer heat 02:26

WASHTENAW COUNTY, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) — The summer camp season is heating up, and kids across Southeast Michigan are trading in crisp, air-conditioned classrooms for sun-soaked fields.

School's out, which also means the sun's out. As forecasts start to predict multiple days of temperatures in the 90's it's important to know how to keep your kids from overheating at their summer or sports camp.

Proper hydration is a well-known strategy for keeping kids cool in hot temperatures, and it can start before you send them to summer camp.

"Kids are not hydrated, just as a general rule. They're not drinking enough water during the day, so you really have to drink a lot of water before you go out to practice to make sure you're extra hydrated in that setting," said Dr. Melissa Heinen, Trinity Health Pediatrics Division head. 

In addition to packing cold water, parents should send their kids to camp with an electrolyte-rich sports drink to support hydration. Experts say that combination, along with bright, breathable clothes, is a great start. Packing a cooler for your kids can help them find instant heat relief even when you're not around.

"There's a lot of these towels you can get now to bring in an ice bucket in a cooler. It can just be a regular kitchen towel that you bring to keep soaking in that ice cooler to actually put on their necks when they have a water break because that will help to cool down their core body temperature," Heinen said.

Being proactive about ways to keep your kids cool is one thing, but it's just as important to know the signs of heat stroke or overexposure to the sun which can impact kids much faster than adults.

"If your kid starts to get confused, they start to have headaches, if they start to get dizzy, those are symptoms you really want to be aware of," she said.

Even if a child isn't showing signs of heat exhaustion, regular shade and water breaks are essential to regulating body temps, especially during peak heat times between mid-morning and late afternoon.

"They have a very fast metabolism, most of their body weight is water, and they can't sweat as well as adults. So, they need a lot more to keep them hydrated in extreme temperatures and heat," Heinen said.

Heinen says heat safety with kids comes down to one word for parents: B.E.A.T.  

  • B for being aware of the reality that heat exhaustion can cause serious illness in children. You should also communicate the dangers of blistering temperatures with your kids.
  • E for easily understanding the symptoms of heat exhaustion in children.
  • A for acting now. There's no reason to hesitate if you notice a child exhibiting symptoms of heat exhaustion. It's better to take action, even when it's not needed than risk their health by waiting to see how their symptoms develop.
  • T for 'taking for further care'. After quickly acting once you notice signs of heat exhaustion, make sure you take the child out of the sun, into a cool environment, and find medical care to help them recover.
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