Heat Health

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We are experiencing more periods of higher temperatures and drier weather than ever, and although this can often make a welcome addition to the summer months for many, experiencing extreme heat can also pose as a risk, particularly to those who are most vulnerable. Heat awareness goes beyond sun-safety and is about understanding the risks of high temperatures and what can be done to keep us as well as possible when experienced. Younger children in particular are more susceptible to the effects of heat as they are less able to regulate their body temperature, and do not sweat as much as adults and older children. Heat related illness can range from mild heat stress to heatstroke, which can be very serious. One of the main risks posed by heat is the risk of dehydration, as well as sun exposure and sunburn.  

Protecting children from heat

There are several things that can be done in school to minimise the risk of heat related illness in school: 

What to look out for

Heat stress: children may seem out of character or show signs of discomfort and irritability. These signs will worsen with physical activity and left untreated can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  

Heat exhaustion: symptoms include tiredness, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating, pale and clammy skin, and confusion.  

Heatstroke: symptoms include high body temperature (≥40°C), red and hot skin, sweating that suddenly stops, fast heartbeat, fast shallow breathing, confusion or lack of co-ordination, fits, loss of consciousness.

Staying hydrated

Making sure that children and young people are able to stay hydrated is a key factor in preventing heat stress and heat stroke. Ensure that all children and young people can readily access drinking water and are encouraged to drink throughout the school day, particularly during periods of hot weather. 

 

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