We all know that hydration is key to our survival. During the summer months the heat sucks the moisture right out of us, especially living in such a hot and dry environment such as Moab.
Water constitutes approximately 70% of body weight in infants, 65% in children, and 60% in adults. We lose water through tears, sweating and urination. Children are more prone to dehydration than adults. When the temperatures are hot, dehydration can occur more rapidly.
“Parents, however, should know that active children do not adjust to hot temperatures, greater than 95 degrees, as well as adults. A child’s body surface, as a proportion of their overall weight, is much greater than an adult’s. So they produce more heat during physical activity and they sweat less than adults. This reduces their ability to get rid of body heat and could lead to dehydration,” according to WebMD.
In addition, kids often don’t drink enough to replenish the fluids they lose during prolonged activity since they’re too busy having fun. This can lead to severe dehydration and potentially life-threatening heat illnesses. That’s why they need adult supervision and plenty of fluids readily available.”
Other factors besides heat that can cause dehydration in children are:
• Wearing clothing or gear that contributes to excessive heat retention
• Is sick or had a recent illness
• Is taking certain supplements or medications, such as cold medicine
• Has had a previous heat-related illness
• Has a chronic condition, such as diabetes
• Isn’t well rested
• Is overweight
• Rarely exercises
So how do you monitor your child’s hydration when doing outdoor summer activities, such as hiking, biking or just merely playing outside? Definitely don’t wait for your child to tell you they are thirsty. Thirst is a sign of dehydration so prevention is key.
Here are a few ways to monitor your child’s hydration:
Make sure your child is drinking every 15 – 20 minutes. If they are in extreme heat or a prolonged activity they may need to drink more often.
Provide them with a hydration bladder or water bottle so you can measure how much water they are drinking.
In addition to water, give them fruits and vegetables or popsicles, which will provide some fluids, as well.
Your child needs to continue drinking fluids after their activities to make sure all fluid lost is replenished.
Do children need more than just water (sports drinks, energy drinks…etc) if the activities are for an extended period of time?
The main source of hydration should be water. Sports drinks are fancied up with colors and flavors but they also have additional calories and sugars. Water will rehydrate and balance out electrolyte levels properly and in a healthier way.
If your child resists the taste of water add a slice of lemon or orange or a strawberry or raspberry to add some natural flavor. Energy drinks should never be consumed by children. The stimulants they contain, such as caffeine, can pose potential health risks on their developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.
Preventing dehydration is just as important for Moab locals as it is for visitors. Whether you are hiking with your tykes to Delicate Arch, biking around town, or climbing with them at Wall Street – make sure you bring plenty of water. Most outdoor activities around Moab have very little shade or a reprieve from the heat increasing you and your tykes’ chances of dehydration.