Between camp, vacations, and backyard adventures, kids spend a lot of time outside during the summer! Although active play is critical for a child’s development, it’s easy for them to get overheated under the sun. Hot, sunny weather combined with physical activity can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and in extreme cases, heatstroke.
But you don’t have to let the heat keep your kids from playing outside. Kids can still keep their cool while being active this summer! Follow these tips to protect kids from summer heat.
Summer Heat Fast Facts
Kids and babies need extra care when it comes to protecting them from summer heat and sun exposure. In hot weather, the body’s natural cooling system can start to fail and allow heat in the body to rise to dangerous levels. Here’s what you need to know about summer heat safety for kids:
- A child’s body heats up three to five time faster than an adult.
- Keep kids out of the heat from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.
- A core body temperature of 104˚ F can lead to hyperthermia and heatstroke in minutes.
- When the heat index or “feels like” temperature is above 95˚ F, encourage kids to play indoors during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
Warning Signs of Dehydration
Protect kids from summer heat by keeping them well hydrated. Common symptoms of dehydration include:
- Dry lips & tongue
- Increased thirst
Warning Signs of Heat Exhaustion
It’s normal for kids to be worn out after playing outside, but how can you tell whether they’re tuckered out or it’s heat exhaustion? Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Lack of sweat
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Spiked temperature
- Increased thirst
- Cool, clammy skin
What to Do If Your Child Has Heat Exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is a form of heat illness that can occur as a result of dehydration and exposure to extreme heat. While it is not usually a life-threatening condition, there are several measures you should take if you suspect your child has heat exhaustion:
- Bring your child to a cool place: indoors, an air-conditioned car, or a shady area.
- Remove excess clothing.
- Give them cool water, or if possible, sports drinks that contain salt and sugar.
- Put a cool, wet washcloth on their skin.
- Call your doctor for advice. If symptoms are severe, seek emergency assistance immediately.
How to Protect Kids From Summer Heat
Kids have a lot of energy to burn, and keeping them inside and out of the heat is often easier said than done. Follow these tips to keep kids safe when you’re outside this summer:
1. Wear Sunscreen
Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of at least 30. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapply at least every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
2. Keep Babies Out of the Sun
Babies under 6 months old can get hot very quickly and should be kept out of the sun. Keep babies inside or in the shade and dress them in lightweight, breathable fabrics and long sleeves that provide more sun protection. If adequate shade and clothing aren’t available, apply a small amount of sunscreen with at least SPF 15 exposed skin, such as the face and backs of hands.
3. Sport a Hat
Hats can prevent the scalp, face, and ears from getting sunburnt. A wide-brimmed hat provides much more sun protection than a baseball hat.
4. Wear Sun-Safe Clothing
Light-colored clothing in lightweight, breathable fabrics like linen and cotton allow sweat to evaporate and keep kids comfortable. Sun protective clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of at least 50 is also a great choice.
5. Stock up on Shades
A child’s eyes aren’t yet mature enough to filter UV rays, so be sure to get them a pair of sunglasses that provide UV protection.
6. Limit Sun Exposure
Try to keep kids out of the heat between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is at its most intense. Take a break indoors in the A/C or find a shady spot to play.
7. Never Leave Kids in the Car
It doesn’t take long for the indoor temperature of your car to rise to dangerous levels, which can lead to deadly consequences. Never leave kids unattended in the car, even if it’s just for a few minutes, and always check the backseat before you exit.
8. Stay Hydrated
Soda, tea, juice, and sports drinks can have a diuretic effect, so stick with water to keep kids hydrated. Coconut water, milk and water-rich foods like celery and cantaloupe are also good options.
9. Swim Safely
Trips to the beach, lake, or pool offer a break from the heat. Just be sure to swim safely. Teach kids to swim and supervise them when they’re near bodies of water. Life jackets, floaties, and snug-fitting inner tubes can provide an added layer of protection.
Stay Safe this Summer
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