Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke

Your child's body can react when he is exposed to hot temperatures without drinking lots of fluids and resting.

  • Heat cramps are actually muscle spasms. Have your child rest in shade, drink lots of water slowly and stretch his muscles.
  • Heat exhaustion causes an upset stomach, weak muscles, dizziness and cool or pale skin. Have your child rest in the shade and drink lots of water slowly.
  • Heat stroke is an emergency. This occurs if heat exhaustion is ignored. Heat stroke causes hot and dry skin (no sweating), shallow breathing and a weak pulse. Get your child to a hospital right away. The hotter the temperatures and the higher the humidity, your child is at a higher risk for heat stroke.

How to prevent heat-related illness

During the summer, make sure your child:

  • dresses in loose-fitting, cool clothing
  • stays out of direct sunlight as much as possible
  • drinks plenty of water
  • takes breaks often when playing outside
  • stops playing outside when he gets tired

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. For inclusivity, this guide uses "them" and "their."
Reviewed By: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 01/01/2016