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On Parenting
Posted at 01:18 PM ET, 06/01/2011

Dangerous heat today and a long summer ahead

Ugh. Summer has arrived.

We didn’t need the National Weather Service to tell us that we’ve got yet another Heat Advisor and Code Orange Air Quality afternoon.

In our third day, it’s more than just uncomfortable; it’s potentially
Nicole Sedaka reads poolside at the Outdoor Aquatic Center at the University of Maryland in College Park on a recent day when temperatures reached 90 degrees. (Bonnie Jo Mount - The Washington Post)
dangerous, especially for children. Officials are asking parents of infants to keep them indoors and, if that’s not possible or the air-conditioning in on the fritz, monitor them constantly.

Frances Phillips, Maryland’s Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services, said that each successive day of severe heat increases everyone’s vulnerability to heat exhaustion and dehydration. His office is advising us to watch our children for complaints of cramps, which can be a sign of heat exhaustion. Forget fans, which don’t help heat sickness. Better a cold shower and air conditioning.

And water, water, water. In case you missed yesterday’s post from The Post’s The Checkup blog on sports drinks, today’s a good day to check out the latest expert guidance that cautions parents from giving children either sports or energy drinks.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness report concluded that sports drinks are too full of empty calories for kids. After particularly strenuous exercise or in humid conditions — like today — a few extra calories are less of an issue than hydration, though. So if a Ga­tor­ade is close at hand, I say let the sweaty kid at it.

More of a concern are energy drinks. The report found they each contained different levels of caffeine and other stimulants. I don’t know about you, but the old, exhausted adults are the only people in my house who need caffeine. Best for kids to avoid altogether.

Take it easy today, and if you have good ideas on how to cope, do share them here. We have a long summer ahead.

By  |  01:18 PM ET, 06/01/2011

 
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