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Keeping Kids - And Adults - Hydrated in the Hot Summer

It's going to be hot out there!

Temperatures are rising and kids will be outside playing at the beach, the playground and the ball fields. With hotter temperatures and more physical activity, one’s fluid needs increase. Dehydration is a preventable problem. Signs of dehydration include: dry lips and tongue, sunken eyes, dark colored urine, infrequent urination, apathy and lethargy.

There are steps that parents, teachers, coaches and camp counselors can take to prevent dehydration.

  1. Encourage kids to drink before, during and after any physical activity.
  2. Schedule fluid breaks every 15-20 minutes during an activity. Don’t wait for a kid to say they are thirsty. They may already be dehydrated.
  3. Sports drinks can be beneficial to replace fluids and electrolytes, particularly during prolonged periods of activity in a warmer environment. Studies have indicated that kids can be more receptive to drinking fluids when the beverage is flavored.
  4. Offer water and low calorie/no calorie sports drinks or a ½ water/1/2 100% fruit juice combination.
  5. Avoid offering sweetened beverages such as soda and fruit drinks.
  6. Whole fruit/no sugar added popsicles are another option.
  7. Encourage intake of fruits and vegetables. These foods contain a higher percentage of water and can be a way to help meet fluid needs.
  8. Teach older kids to check the color of their urine and parents will need to do it for the younger ones. It should be a light lemon color.

So, for all kids out there who are planning on having a great time this summer running, jumping, biking, hiking, swimming, climbing and just plain playing, remember that drinking enough fluid is extremely important during the hot days. Dehydration is preventable! Have kids drink before, during and after play. Don’t wait until the child says they are thirsty. Offer fluids frequently that are water or a low calorie/no calorie sports beverage or a combination of half water and half 100% fruit juice.

And, don't forget about yourself either. If you start to feel light-headed, make sure to drink some water and find some shade!

Kim Westcott, MS, RD, LDN, CSO, has been a Registered Dietitian at Beebe Healthcare since September 1993, working in a variety of positions supporting the nutritional needs of the customers in the school-based wellness centers, outpatient facilities, in-patients and those attending community events.