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Summer Safety…Drink Water

Summer Safety …Drink Water     by Susan C. Garkalns

School is out, summer is here, and children should be playing outdoors, enjoying their summer freedom. When the temperatures soar as they often do during the months of May through August in the South, children like adults, can find themselves at risk for heat related illness. When children are busy and having fun they forget to drink fluids and may dehydrate.

Dehydration is the result of loss of water in the cells, water in other fluids of the body such as gastrointestinal fluids, and in the bloodstream. Symptoms of dehydration are varied and can include, but are not limited to: dry mouth, dizziness, weakness, muscle cramps, weak or rapid pulse, confusion, fainting and nausea. Relying solely on thirst is often a poor indicator of hydration. By the time a child is thirsty, he is already dehydrated.

The human body is comprised of 60-75% water so replenishing your body's water supply is critical for proper body function. The functions of water in the body are many: transports nutrients, carries away waste, hydrates the skin, moistens eyes, mouth and nose, ensures adequate blood volume, helps maintain normal body temperature and acts as a lubricant around joints to name a few.
In hot weather, a child's response to physical activity is different from adults for several reasons:

*     Children use more energy than adults while doing the same thing.
*     Children have a low sweating capacity.
*     Children‘s body core temperature rises at a higher rate during dehydration.

For these reasons it is extremely important to monitor the amount of fluids your child consumes. Encourage children to start the day with fluids, i.e. milk and juice and continue drinking throughout the day. Watery fruits and vegetables, such as watermelon, grapes, oranges, tomatoes and corn also count. There is no substitute for water, as it is the best fluid to hydrate the system.
Keep in mind that children must be reminded to drink even when they are not thirsty. Until they get in the habit, it may take constant reminding and encouragement. Listed below are a few tips to get children drinking more:

*     Serve diluted fruit juice. (If it tastes better, they are more likely to drink it).
*     Put fluids in individual squeeze bottles to make drinking easier.
*     Serve fluids cold as they are absorbed more quickly from the stomach into the system.
*     Serve frozen juice drinks or ice pops
*     Avoid caffeine drinks which act as a diuretic and can cause fluid loss.

Adequate fluid replacement helps maintain hydration and therefore, promotes health, safety and well-being. In addition, on those hot humid days children should wear loose-fitting, light colored clothing to help promote heat loss. Enjoy the warm days ahead and have a safe, fun, and healthy summer.

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