More than half of American children and teens are not properly hydrated, according to a new study released by Harvard. With the Fourth of July fast approaching and summer temperatures soaring, health officials said dehydration and heat related illnesses could strike.
“Summer time brings a lot of great things, great weather, great activities but the potential is there for disaster,” said William Carter, Program Manager for the Wichita Falls-Wichita County Health District.
Disaster could come in the form of heat exhaustion, heat stress and even heat stroke.
“Really anyone that is very young or very old are going to be the ones that are the most susceptible to heat stress or any other heat related illnesses at this time,” said Carter.
Prevention is the major key to keeping hydrated. It’s essential to drink at least six ounces of water every hour, and to stay away from sugary and caffeinated drinks, according to health officials.
They recommend that men drink 13 cups of water a day, while women need at least nine cups. As the summer weather heats up water intake should also increase.
“It’s best not to drink a whole lot of water at one time, but throughout the day continuously is the best way to go,” said Williams.
Summer fruits can also help. Watermelon, cantaloupe and oranges help keep you hydrated, according to health officials. Other steps to take include applying sunscreen and taking frequent breaks.
“If you can, at the very least, make sure you are going indoors,” said Williams. “Air condition is our friends. So as much as you can, stay in a cooler environment or a shaded area.”
Although preventative measures are helpful, you still need to keep an eye for dehydration signs. Thirst is the first major sign of dehydration. Once thirst strikes dehydration has already started.
Other signs you can look for include: excessive sweating, hot skin, strong pulse, weakness, vomiting or fainting. Of course those are also symptoms you could experience without a heat related illness, but health officials said regardless take any of these symptoms seriously.
Many of those symptoms are very common, that’s why health officials said the most important way to test your hydration levels is by checking your urine. Properly hydrated urine is a clearer color. If you are not hydrated you'll see various darker colors when you use the restroom.
One local organization is doing its best to keep kids hydrated and safe for summer time activities. The Boys and Girls Club of Wichita Falls works to keep the air condition high and dehydration low.
“We try to keep the kids inside when it’s hot outside, we go outside in the morning time and we also have water fountains,” said Tori Smith, Branch Director At the Southwest Unit of The Boys and Girls Club.
With kids running, jumping and playing, keeping children safe is the number one goal. Taking breaks, staying away from heat and allowing frequent water trips are extremely beneficial.
“We try to do the best that we can by reminding them to drink if they look like they need to drink water or having them come and sit down or move out of an area like the gym,” said Smith.
Brittany Costello, Newschannel 6