Teachers, Counselors, Coaches: How To Keep Your Kids Hydrated

Welcome to Fire Academy! It is now 7am and the PT or Physical Training is about to begin. The instructor for the class has many things on his/her mind but none more important than two things we preach most, Safety and Hydration. Before any work is done it is the job of the instructor to make sure that the class has hydrated and is prepared for what is about to take place. The importance of being safe no matter what you do can never be understated, hydration has a role in your safety as well.

While you may not be a Fire Academy Instructor, if you are caring for kids this summer you have the same job and should be thinking in the same way. How can I keep these children safe and have we hydrated for what we are about to do, what we are doing, and what we have done?

Teachers, it does not matter if you are at a large school or a small daycare. You have had these children placed in your care and it is your job to incorporate regular hydration into your schedule. Hydration should be done before going out to play or recess, the children should have access to water while playing by a water fountain or bottle of some kind, and the children should be given an opportunity to hydrate when outside time is through. This will ensure that the kids are properly hydrated at all times and ready for whatever activity you have planned next.

Parents, if you are in charge of mommy or daddy daycare then you too have the job of making sure your kids are properly hydrated. It will be easy to let the kids play and drink whatever they can grab out of the fridge but having a supply of water on hand rather than super sugary drinks will pay dividends for your family by not only keeping them hydrated, but also not loading them up with a ton of sugar as well. Parents please remember that kid’s bodies burn at a much higher rate than ours so even if the kids are not as active as they should be and they are lounging around the house, they still need to have plenty of water.

Counselors, if you are in charge of children then you need to be the one looking after the hydration of the group. I know that camps during the summer plan constant activities and go many places, so not only do you have the responsibility of watching the kids in multiple situations, but you also need to be monitoring their hydration as well. Make sure everyone has water on or near them during activities. You know the kids have some sort of juice in the lunch they brought with them, so please do your part to make sure they are getting plenty of water before, during, and after activities.

Coaches, You, out of all the other categories, are the closest to Fire department instructor. Your job is to make safety and hydration a priority. Have you thought about the safety involved in what your team is about to do? And has your team hydrated properly so that they can not only perform, but avoid risking dehydration? It is your added responsibility to monitor the hydration status of your team. Some sports may have helmets and uniforms that make it difficult to see faces and other signs of dehydration, so the job of hydration becomes that much more important. Before, during, after, and even on the days off as well.

Parents, Teachers, and Counselors can get creative with younger children and have them color their own water bottles or something along those lines to make it fun while making sure they are drinking enough water.

The goal of hydration is to avoid Heat Related Emergencies.

There are varying levels of Heat Related Emergencies and signs that can let you know if a Heat Emergency is near or already happening.

When looking for heat related emergencies be on the lookout for the following:

  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Skin is red in color but dry to the touch
  • Loss of consciousness / Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Altered mental status ( not acting how they normally do )
  • Low Energy / Weakness

While these are all signs of dehydration, please be aware that these are the signs seen most during activities such as playtime or sports.

All of these require bringing the child out of the sun, into a cool place, and re-hydrating the child slowly. If the child faints, has any other medical issue, or has an altered mental status please take them to a cool place, hydrate them slowly and call 911. There are many causes for altered mental status and severe dehydration is one of them so having an emergency unit there will only help the situation.

  • To slowly re-hydrate a child let them drink slowly, a little bit at a time. Having them drink too much, too fast may cause them to vomit.
  • To slowly cool a child down you can place a cool wet towel over the back of their neck and/or ice-packs in the under arm area, as well as between the thighs. I know we have all seen the NFL players jump into huge garbage cans of ice, Please do not attempt this with any children as this is a last resort option and one that should be done only by trained professionals under medical supervision.

As, always I will tell you that when in doubt call 911. These are children and while they may not be your children, you have a responsibility to them to keep them safe and act in their best interest. Mom and Dad will thank you later.

Good luck, Have a great summer and be safe!

About the Author

Greg Atwood is a Firefighter /Paramedic in Coral Gables Florida and works for the Coral Gables Fire Rescue. He is an American Heart Association certified instructor in BLS ( Basic Life Support ), ACLS ( Advanced Cardiopulmonary Life Support ), and PALS ( Pediatric Advanced Life Support ). Greg currently lives in Miami Florida with his beautiful wife Alexa and their 2 sons, Connor and Jake. Greg is a former member of the PedSafe Expert team


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