As most of the nation head back to school facing triple digit heat, schools face the challenges associated with outdoor recess and overheated classrooms. Principals and physical educators will face daily decisions regarding children’s heat health on the playground.
Of particular concern to schools is that “kids absorb more heat than adults while sweating less. The result is kids have a greater propensity for heat cramps, exhaustion or heat stroke”, according to Dr. Melinda Bossenmeyer, also known as the Recess Doctor.
Upon a return to the classroom, the symptoms of heat injuries often surface. Symptoms include:
- Heat Cramps- the Early warning sign of heat exhaustion or stroke.
- Heat Exhaustion- Extreme sweating, dry mouth, fatigue, headache, nausea and/or
- Heat Stroke- Considered a medical emergency. Body Temp above 104 degrees,
confusion, deep breathing, stop sweating, and loss of consciousness.
Prevention Strategies include:
- Hydrate before and after physical activity.
- Avoid sweet or caffeinated drinks which dehydrate.
- Rest often at least each 20 minutes on hot days.
- Allow hats for outside use.
- Consider allowing water bottles in classrooms and playgrounds on hot days.
- Shorten Recess and outdoor exposure.
Parents, with summer around the corner, temperatures are on the rise. Here are a few tips to prepare students attending summer programs for the hot summer days.
- Encourage your student to drink water frequently at home and at school. Drink enough water that you never become thirsty.
- Send a water bottle to school with your student if possible.
- Dress students in lightweight/light-colored, loose-fitting, cotton clothing.
- Talk to your student about the dangers of heat related illnesses. Inform your student to report to an adult immediately if they experience:
Weakness or fatigue
Cramping in arms, legs or abdomen
Source: Peaceful Playgrounds: http://peacefulplaygrounds.com/keeping-kids-cool-at-school
Additional Resource: “CDC Frequently Asked Questions about Extreme Heat”: http://peacefulplaygrounds.com/pdf/cdc-faq-heat.pdf
— Samantha Lewis, LCPS Public Relations Coordinator, 575-527-5946, firstname.lastname@example.org