Keep your child safe from the Texas heat with these tips

As students prepare for school in Tarrant County, 100+ degrees per day persist and the National Weather Service continues to issue heat advisories each week.

This year, MedStar responded to a total of 667 heat-related patients between May 1 and August 3, an increase of 346 cases from the same period last year.

Texas Health continues to see hundreds of heat-related patients this summer, with 169 cases in June and 277 cases in July.

June, July and August are typically when emergency departments see the most heat-related illnesses in Texas.

From soccer practice to band to recess, here are some tips to keep your student safe from heat-related illness when school starts this August.

How long can my student be outside in the heat?

Texas Health officials said heat illnesses can occur within 20 to 30 minutes, depending on conditions and activity level. Heat stroke, the most serious heat-related illness, occurs when body temperature rises to 106 degrees or higher in 10 to 15 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Andrew Morris, associate medical director of emergency medicine at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano, said being dehydrated, not well conditioned for an activity or having an infection can make healthy people prone to heat-related illnesses. .

When students start to feel sick from the heat, they need to tell someone and move to a shaded or air-conditioned space. Younger students need adult supervision while in the heat and be encouraged to drink more fluids even when they are not thirsty.

Because high temperatures, humidity and excessive sweating can be dangerous, athletes should hydrate before their activities, Morris said.

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Registered nurse Anita Rigues helps cyclist Evonne Luddeka cool down after overheating during the Peach Pedal bike ride in Weatherford, Texas, on Saturday, July 9, 2022. Madeleine Cook mcook@star-telegram.com

Know the Difference: Heat Exhaustion vs. Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion is when the body loses large amounts of water and salt through excessive sweating, particularly through intense physical work or exercise. Symptoms include muscle cramps, paleness, sweating, nausea, and vomiting. According to MedStar, children and the elderly are especially susceptible.

If you or someone you know is experiencing heat exhaustion, the National Weather Service recommends moving to a cooler area, loosening your clothing, and drinking cool water. If symptoms do not improve, seek medical attention.

Heat stroke is when the body undergoes prolonged and intense exposure to heat and loses its ability to cool itself. This is a life-threatening problem. According to MedStar, common signs of heat stroke include confusion, vomiting, sweating changes, hot and flushed skin, rapid heart rate, decreased sweating, shortness of breath, decreased urination, increased body temperature, or even seizures.

Heat stroke is a medical emergency: If you or someone you know begins to experience symptoms of heat stroke, immediately call 911.

What are ways to keep my student safe during outdoor activities?

Whether it’s sports or recreation, here are some safety tips from Texas Health officials.

  • Never participate in activities in the heat alone.
  • Hydrate with 10-16 ounces of water about 30 minutes before starting outdoor activities.
  • Wear light-colored, breathable clothing.
  • If you start to feel sick when you’re out in the heat, find a cool place and stay hydrated.
  • Protect skin with a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses.
  • During outdoor practices, students should drink at least 4-8 ounces of water every 20 minutes. During activities longer than an hour or with excessive sweating, add a sports drink to help replenish electrolytes. Rehydrate after practice.

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Megan Cardona is a service reporter at Star-Telegram covering politics, government programs, community resources and more to help residents navigate daily life in Tarrant County and North Texas. She graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2020, where she worked on the campus newspaper, The Shorthorn, for two years.

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