With the first day of summer here, everyone seems to be rushing out to enjoy those long-awaited rays of sunshine. But experts say that too much of a good thing could cause serious health problems, especially for children and seniors.

Whether it is heading down to the local beach, or participating in summer sports, heat and humidity can easily sneak up fast and it is important to be aware of the signs and know how to beat the heat.

“Either they'll get really flushed -- you'll see them get really red or really sweaty -- or they'll go the other extreme, where they go really white and stop sweating,” says Kyla Holas, a softball coach at the University of Houston, which sees its fair share of high temperatures.

"Either one of those are the things that are red flags for us and we send those kids in right away,"

Holas -- who also coaches at a camp full of young energetic athletes during the summer -- says keeping her athletes informed about the dangers of heat-related illness is a must.

“We have buckets of ice and towels available for any kid who's getting hot,” Holas explains. “Both of our locker rooms are open with air conditioning, so they can come in if we see they’re getting hot and take a break.”

According to Health Canada, other signs of heat-related illness include muscle cramping, headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

Texas Children's Hospital Emergency Center's Dr. Kay Leaming-VanZandt says that parents can prep their kids before sending them out into the sun.

“Not only getting them to take in a great healthy breakfast, but also by starting the hydration process with water or a sports drink,” she explains. “Also dressing them in light colored loose fitting clothing would also be helpful.”

While children need special treatment, so do the elderly, who can be particularly at risk, especially with existing medical conditions such as breathing difficulties, heart or kidney problems, hypertension, or Parkinson’s disease.

Experts recommend that elderly watch local weather forecasts and alerts, arrange for regular visits by family members or neighbours, and make sure that if there is an air condition, that it works properly.

Health problems related to heat include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, heat rash, heat cramps, and swelling of hands, feet, or ankles.

Health Canada recommends these five tips to protect you and your family in very hot weather:

  • Prepare for the heat
  • Pay close attention to how you – and those around you – feel
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay cool
  • Avoid exposure to extreme heat when outdoors

Officials also caution that heat stroke is a medical emergency, which means you should dial 911 or contact your local emergency immediately if you feel symptoms.