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Specialists recommend ways to keep children safe in heat

According to the CDC, children need to exercise frequently and get outside to be healthy, but with the heat index climbing into the triple digits these days, that can be hard to do safely.

Debra Pervis is the director at the Child Learning and Development Center in Columbia. She said she uses a weather watch chart from the Missouri Department of Health to know when the heat is going to be dangerous for the children.

“Green is comfortable to play outside, yellow is caution so you can use your own judgement as to whether they’re capable of handling the heat,” she said. “Red is danger and they’re not allowed to go outside.”

Once the heat index reaches 90 degrees, the weather becomes part of the yellow caution area.

Pervis said when it reaches the yellow area, she will take extra precautions with the children. Sometimes they’ll let the older ones go outside and keep the younger ones in because they are more susceptible to the heat.

She said they’ll stay inside and still exercise, whether it’s with their giant parachute or doing something more active.

“They have dancing, they do a lot of exercise,” she said. “We even have baby yoga.”

If children are going to be outdoors, specialists like Dr. Timothy Fete at the MU Children’s Hospital recommend they go out early and late in the day. They should also be near shade in case they need to cool down.

“Make sure there’s activities in an area where there’s shade available so the kids can come into a shade or have the opportunity to get into an air-conditioned building or air-conditioned car if they’re getting hot,” he said.

Getting in the water is also a great way to keep your child cool.

“Swimming, playing in the hose, running in the sprinkler, particularly if there’s a bit of breeze,” he said. “Douse yourself with water and stand in front of a fan, that’ll help cool you down fairly quickly.”

Pervis has her kids do water activities often. She said the activites keep them cool but also calm.

“They can play in the sand but when they play in the water it’s just a more of a calm environment for them,” she said.

Fete said children should also stay hydrated, but recommending sports drinks over water.

Sports drinks and juices provide essential sugars and salt children lose when they sweat, but he said they’ll also drink more of something with flavor.

“If you offer a child an 8-ounce glass of water he or she may drink a couple ounces,” he said. “If you offer the same child 8 ounces of a sports drink, they’re likely to consume the whole drink.”

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