Keeping school-age students healthy on hot days

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. – Temperatures during the first few weeks of school may be high, yet, some schools don’t have air conditioning.

Keeping cool when temperatures are high isn’t just about comfort. The absence of a cooling system can create sweltering temperatures inside the classroom that can lead to the development of a heat-related illness, explained Suzanne Stluka, SDSU Extension Food & Families Program Director.

“Heat-related illness occurs when the human body is unable to stabilize the internal body temperature due to high humidity, increased weather temperatures, vigorous physical activity and other conditions,” Stluka said.

Before sending children to school on hot days, Stluka encourages parents to take an active role in preventing heat-related illness. “Preventative steps taken by parents may protect their child from the development of a heat-related illness. It is critical to be aware of the signs and to stay hydrated,” she said.

Preventing Heat-Related Illness

Prevention is the key to avoiding heat-related illnesses.

“Parents can help their child during the school day through preparation and teaching their child to recognize the symptoms and what to do,” Stluka said.

Tips for Parents:

• Send children to school with a water bottle. A great tip is to freeze it overnight so it stays cold throughout the day

• Stay Hydrated! Encourage child to drink their water even when they are not thirsty

• Send a hat with your child to wear when outdoors (Be sure to check school policy regarding hats)

• Make sure the child wears light-colored, loose-fitting clothing

• Encourage children to play in shaded areas and to rest often

• Teach children to go indoors whenever they fell overheated.

Consult the graphic below for quick answers to treating the symptoms of common heat-induced illness.