Hot summer days: How much water is enough for kids?

WASHINGTON — It’s easy for anyone to get dehydrated on hot, sweaty summer days, but a local pediatrician warns that heat stroke and hydration can be serious issues for children and adolescents over the summer.

Children playing outside should drink at least eight to 10 ounces of water every couple of hours, according to pediatrician Lee Savio Beers, Children’s National Health System’s medical director for municipal and regional Affairs.

“If they’re outside and they’re really exercising and there’s a lot of heat — drinking every 20 minutes is probably best and wise,” Beers said.

She recommends children even continue drinking fluids into the evening.

“The night before, really make sure you build up your body’s fluid stores so that the next morning you’re not starting out with a deficit,” Beers advised.

In most situations, Beers said drinking water is fine. Sports drinks, she said, can be helpful when exercising in hot conditions and sweating a lot for an hour or more. But she said to be mindful of how much sugar sports drinks contain.

“If you drink several bottles of sports drinks during a day, you’ve taken in a fair amount of sugar,” Beers warned.

Symptoms of becoming dehydrated include feeling tired or having a dry mouth.  Feeling nauseous is a more serious cause for concern.

“If you start to feel dizzy — a little bit extra sweaty — if you start to feel nauseous or you’re going to throw up, then you should definitely, definitely take a pause,” Beers said, warning that’s the time to drink something, find shade and cool off.

On the general topic of staying hydrated, Beers warned adults that consuming alcohol in hot weather can cause them to respond more severely.

“You may not be able to drink as much as you normally do,” Beers said. “It’s really important to make sure that you’re drinking a lot of water to counteract the alcohol that you’re drinking.”

And, she added: “Of course, never drink and drive.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Lee Savio Beers is a pediatrician. 

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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