How to prevent heat stroke

Babies, children, the elderly and the chronically ill are the most vulnerable populations when thermometers rise in the summer. Babies’ bodies, for example, do not regulate temperature in the same way as adults, and in the elderly the sensation of thirst is less than in other ages, if they do not drink the water they need, they have easier to dehydrate. So that none of them suffer heat stroke due to high temperatures, it is essential to follow some basic precautions:

Babies and children

“In babies and children, the most important thing is that they are always hydrated and not too warm,” explains Dr. Jordi Pou, coordinator of the Committee for Safety and Prevention of Child Accidents of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (Aeped). And never neglect your vigilance.Unfortunately, Dr. Pou explains that every year there are cases of parents or caregivers who forget the child in the car in full sun or leave him a few minutes while doing some work. “This should never be done,” he insists. To avoid this, the pediatrician advises «always leave an important object, such as a bag or house keys, in the rear seats of the vehicle. They are always objects that are needed and must be taken. That way no one will forget the child ». This pediatrician offers the following recommendations to avoid heat stroke in the smallest of the family:

—Maintain good hydration. Breast milk or formula provides infants with the necessary nutrients. However, Dr Pou says that in very hot situations, drinking water can be offered to babies, “it is not prohibited.” Older children should be offered liquids: water, juices … They should drink small amounts frequently. And never force them to do it.

—Avoid closed places, which are very hot and without ventilation.

—Air conditioning (between 20 and 21ºC) can be used to cool the environment, but babies and children should never be near the focus where the jet of air comes out.

—Not go out in the hours of greatest solar intensity: between 12 and 17 hours.

“Don’t wrap the baby.” It can even be alone with the diaper, or with a T-shirt.

—In the heat you can cool the baby with water cooler than room temperature, but not cold.

—Be alert and see a doctor immediately before: if the child feels uncomfortable, restless or has a fever (37.5 or 38ºC). You also have to watch the skin and mucous membranes: the first symptoms of dehydration are seen on the skin, mouth or tongue that are beginning to be dry. Older children may complain of a headache.

Seniors (and all ages)

Most of the Autonomous Communities have already presented during these days their awareness campaigns so that adults and children, and the entire population in general, are protected against high temperatures, offering a whole battery of recommendations to prevent heat stroke. that follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Health. The “Heat wave” campaign of the Community of Madrid gives these tips and calls for attention to older people:

“Lower the blinds and awnings on the facades exposed to the sun.”

“The refrigerator must be in perfect working order.”

“At home, stay in the coolest room.”

—If you don’t have air conditioning or a cool room, go to the closest places that are refrigerated: hypermarkets, department stores, public centers … And stay there for two or three hours.

—Older people who live alone must be accompanied on the hottest days or in continuous contact with neighbors or relatives.

—Not go outside in the hottest hours of the day, let alone do sports or tasks such as DIY, gardening … Don’t try too hard when it’s so hot.

—If you have to go out, opt for early morning or late afternoon. Cover your head with an hat and dress in light, light-colored clothing. It goes without saying that you must walk in the shade.

—Show frequently during the day or cool off with damp cloths.

—Drink plenty of water and often (at least two liters a day) even if you don’t feel thirsty. You can also use sports isotonic drinks.

– Do not consume alcohol, as it favors dehydration and alters the ability to respond to heat. Avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, colas, teas …) or very sugary because they increase the elimination of liquids. Avoid excessively cold liquids.

—Increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables in summer (light gazpacho, cold salads …) to load the body with mineral salts.


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