The summer months are an opportunity for kids to engage in daily physical activity through camps, sport leagues, and outdoor play. However, long days in the sun can put kids at risk for dehydration and heat exhaustion.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe dehydration as a condition that causes unclear thinking, mood swings, overheating, constipation, and kidney stones. The CDC claims that adolescents who drink less water are also less physically active and tend to eat more fast food. Here are five tips to avoid dehydration and heat exhaustion.
1. Take frequent breaks
Ulbrich Boys and Girls Club Executive Director, Carlos Collazo, spoke about the Wallingford club’s summer camp policies designed to keep campers hydrated all day long. Camp counselors are trained how to identify symptoms of dehydration, including rapid breathing, sunken eyes, and sleepiness.
“Safety is number one” said Collazo.
Campers transition from physical activities to brain games and crafts throughout the day. Counselors are frequently reminding children to rest and recharge.
“The kids are constantly taking water breaks to ensure that when they perspire and let out all of those fluids that they’re able to replenish them” Collazo said.
2. Reusable water bottles
Parents are asked to provide children with reusable water bottles. Campers are encouraged to use the onsite water fountains to fill their canisters while in the gym. When playing outside, or on a field trip, campers have access to five-gallon water coolers.
“We have two big jugs of water that we bring with us” said Collazo.
3.Eat water dense fruits and vegetables
If children are eating a diet rich in whole, nutrient dense foods they will receive a fair amount of their daily water intake at mealtimes.
To keep kids satiated throughout the day, parents are encouraged to prepare their snacks and meals with water dense produce. Grapes, melon, and berries are delicious summer treats with high water content. Celery, cucumbers, and tomatoes are hydrating vegetables with nutrient rich mineral profiles.
4.Electrolytes and minerals
Important micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium can be found in fruits and vegetables as well as sports drinks. Vitamins and minerals play an essential role in keeping the body functioning optimally.
“We do encourage our campers to bring drinks that have electrolytes. But we also have an endless supply of water, you can never go wrong with water” Collazo said.
Make sure to read the nutrition labels on sports drinks as many of them have dyes, fillers, or added sugar.
5. Stay cool in the shade
“The portable tents we are using not only for shade but also for outdoor activities” said Collazo.
These tents allow campers to cool down and offer protection from inclement weather. After 30-45-minute stints of outdoor activities children are brought inside to continue their games in the air conditioning.
Monitoring children’s behavior to make sure they are not overexerting themselves to the point of exhaustion is key in preventing dehydration. Being proactive by limiting children’s sun exposure is also an effective measure to safeguard them against heat induced illnesses.
More information can be found at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html.
Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris– https://dearfitkris.com/