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Staying Safe in the Heat

Kids are far more susceptible to heat exhaustion than adults are. "Their thermoregulatory system isn't as well developed -- which means their bodies aren't able to adapt to temperature changes the way ours do," says Russell Migita, M.D., clinical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital. So is your sweaty, red-faced child running into danger? Dr. Migita sorts out the hot-weather warning signs:

Heavy sweating
Beet-red face
Rapid heartbeat
Being very thirsty
Feeling hot to the touch
Stitches or muscle cramps
Breathing hard

What to know... These signs aren't usually worrisome on their own. But keep an eye out, especially if your child's exerting herself on a super-humid day (when sweat doesn't cool the body down the way it does in drier weather) or during a heat wave.

Extreme fatigue that forces her to sit down
Nausea or vomiting
A bad headache
Lack of sweat 
Looking totally miserable ("It seems obvious, but it's a really good indicator that parents don't tend to consider," says Dr. Migita. "And the reverse is also true: Even if your child is dripping with sweat and bright red, as long as she looks happy, odds are she's fine.")

What to do... Get your child out of the heat immediately and give her plenty of water or a drink with electrolytes, such as Gatorade. If her symptoms don't improve in the next hour, seek medical help.