Heatwave Advice - Children

Heatwave advice – keep your child cool


Many of us in Ireland love the warm weather, but you can have too much of a good thing!  When it’s hot for long periods of time, your child’s health could be at risk.  That’s why it is so important to keep your child cool.

Did you know?

Children don’t sweat as much as adults do – so they find it harder to stay cool.  Your child needs your help to keep cool.  Being too hot for too long can cause heat exhaustion or heatstroke.  Heatstroke is particularly dangerous for children and can even be fatal.

To stay healthy in the heat, your child needs to:

1.      Drink plenty of fluids - If your baby is under 6 months old you will need to offer them their usual breast or formula milk feeds more often so they don’t become dehydrated. Give your older child plenty of cold drinks, especially if they are playing or exercising outside.  Make sure to drink plenty yourself if you are breastfeeding, it is thirsty work and you need to stay hydrated to help your body produce milk.

2.      Wear light-coloured and loose clothing – sprinkling water over your child’s skin or clothes can help

3.      Stay cool at home – close the curtains or blinds in your child’s room during the day to block out the sun.  Leave the windows open at night if it is safe to do so.  It is advisable to use a room thermometer to check that the room your baby sleeps in is at 16 degrees C to 20 degrees C. Your baby should not sleep in direct sunlight.

4.      Cool down at times – a lukewarm bath or shower before bed can help your child stay cool.  Take a break from the heat at times and chill out with your child in a cool place such as inside, or an area outside that is in the shade.

5.      Stay in the shade and slap on sunscreen  - make sure your child stays in the shade, especially  between 11am – 3pm.  You can shade your baby’s pram to protect them, but never cover it completely.  Air needs to circulate.  For older children, keep them in the shade and protect their skin with broad spectrum sunscreen that is SPF 50 or higher.  But remember, sunscreen will protect your child’s skin from the sun, but it won’t protect them from the heat.

6.      Never be alone in the car – Never leave your children alone in the car for any length of time, no matter how short, even if your car is in the shade. 

7.      Stay connected – if your child has any health problems, or additional needs, chat to your GP or your pharmacist to find out if they are more at risk from the heat.  Check out the HSE website mychild.ie to find out more about the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.