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A summer time prescription - cool, clear water

Are your children ever cranky or do they complain of headaches or nausea, especially after playing outside on a hot, humid Nebraska afternoon? If this sounds familiar, they may be showing symptoms of dehydration. Children's bodies are not as efficient in thermal regulation as are adults. They produce more body heat yet they perspire less which may result in dehydration. Prevention or treatment of dehydration is simple, easy to acquire, and very economical: drink plenty of water!

Water is the most important, yet most often forgotten, nutrient needed to maintain healthy bodies. Not only does it transport nutrients through the body and helps remove wastes, it replaces the body water used to remove the heat from the body through sweating and evaporation. If this water is not replaced, the sweating mechanism can shut down, resulting in heat stroke or even death.

Here are some tips to remember this summer:

  • Provide a glass of water with meals and snacks. A common misconception of caregivers is that milk or juice must be served at snacks. Serve water along with the two snack components if a beverage is needed. This is not only more economical, but it provides a great opportunity to create a healthy eating habit.

  • Encourage children to drink water often, especially before, during and after playing outside. Have water and glasses easily accessible to the children outside so they can help themselves.

  • Allow children to acclimate gradually. Don't expect them to play outside for two straight hours on the first day the temperature reaches 100 degrees. Children may need up to two weeks to get used to high temperatures and humidity.

  • Dress children in light, loose fitting clothes exposing as much skin as possible (but make sure they are protected with waterproof sunscreen) to allow for body cooling to take place through perspiration and evaporation.

  • Set a good example - make sure you drink plenty of water.


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