Summer in Florida means high temperatures, and a break from school that’s full of pool days, camps, and outside activities. While this is a coveted few months for most kids, parents should be prepared with ways to ensure everyone stays heart healthy in the heat.
The American Heart Association recommends that kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise a day! If your kids are staying active this summer, then it’s crucial that they are properly hydrated. The more they run around in the sun, the more healthy fluids they need to put in their bodies.
You’ve heard it before, but it’s something that can’t be said too much: Our bodies are mostly made of water, so it’s important that your kids drink plenty of water each day. The more they sweat in the sun, the more water they need. Encourage kids to drink water before, during and after activities. And who says water has to be boring? Give H2O a flavorful makeover by adding fresh fruit slices like cucumber or lemon.
When it comes to sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, diet soda and fruit drinks, the American Heart Association recommends saying “no.” Instead, opt for low-fat milk or limited amounts of 100 percent fruit juice (100 percent juice shouldn’t replace fruit and vegetable servings!).
While water will keep your kids hydrated, sometimes the Florida sun is just too much. Know how to recognize heat exhaustion and heat stroke and if you witness or experience any of the below symptoms, do not take them lightly.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion: headaches; heavy sweating; cold, moist skin; chills; dizziness or fainting; a weak and rapid pulse; muscle cramps; fast, shallow breathing; and nausea, vomiting or both.
If you experience these symptoms, put a halt to all activity and get to a cool place – preferably indoors. Keep hydration going and douse yourself or your child with cold water. You may need to seek medical attention.
Symptoms of heat stroke: warm, dry skin with no sweating; strong and rapid pulse; confusion and/or unconsciousness; high fever; throbbing headaches; and nausea, vomiting or both.
If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.
You can also prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke by playing outdoors in the morning and evening when temperatures are cooler, and dressing your kids in light, breathable clothing. Don’t forget sunglasses and sunhats, and apply water-resistant SPF every two hours.
To learn the difference between stroke vs. heat stroke, reference the infographic included in this article. I encourage everyone to share this information with loved ones. Stroke can happen to anyone at any time. As part of the American Stroke Association Together to End Stroke campaign, locally sponsored by Verizon, we are engaging as many people as possible with the warning signs of stroke through the acronym F.A.S.T., which stands for: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Slurred speech, Time to call 911. Knowing the warning signs of stroke and getting to the hospital immediately can save a life. Speaking of saving lives …
What are summer days without quality time by the pool or at the beach? All parents and supervisors should be equipped with CPR skills and ready to respond in the case of an emergency. For parents with babies, learn more about the American Heart Association’s Infant CPR Anytime® program here. And if you have a minute – that’s right, one minute – you can learn the two easy steps to Hands-Only CPR™: call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest. Performing bystander CPR can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival. Watch the 60-second demo video today.
Water? Check. Sunscreen? Check. F.A.S.T. knowledge? Check. CPR trained? Check. To learn more about heart health, visit www.heart.org.
Jeanmarie Milla is the Verizon Florida Region President, an American Heart Association Heart Walk cabinet member, and a stroke ambassador.