The heat is on, and that can mean heat exhaustion and sunburns for children if parents are not careful. Because children heat up a lot more quickly than adults do and their bodies are extra-sensitive to the heat, taking the proper precautions is vital. Keep your kids cool, safe and happy during the summer by steering clear of the risk factors for sunburns and heat exhaustion.
1. Don’t leave children in a parked car.
Even if you are only running into the store for a few minutes, it is incredibly dangerous to leave a child in a car. On bright, sunny days, the inside of a car can reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit within 15 minutes. This extreme heat can lead to dehydration, heat stroke, or even death. When you get to your destination, check to make sure each child gets out of the car before closing and locking the car.
Cracking open the car windows doesn’t allow enough air to flow in and will not keep your child safe. The car will become considerably hotter than the air outside very quickly.
2. Apply sunscreen early and often.
Slather sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on your children at least 20 minutes before they go outside each day. Make sunscreen application a daily habit, just as brushing your kid’s teeth and hair are. If your children will be outside throughout the day, make sure to re-apply the sunscreen every three hours. On days when your kids go swimming at the local beach or pool, re-apply sunscreen every hour or so.
3. Give your children water frequently.
Before your kids start running around outside on a hot day, have them drink an 8-ounce glass of water. Ensure that they take breaks every 15 to 30 minutes to rest and drink another few sips of water. At the end of an activity, have them drink another glass of water. Drinking water is important during all summer activities, even if your children are swimming in a lake, ocean or pool.
Make sure your child drinks 16 ounces of water every four hours, even on days when he is not playing outside in the heat.
4. Take care around playground equipment.
Metal playground equipment heats up rapidly in the sun. In some cases, a metal bar, such as the handles on the monkey bars, can reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit. The same is true for metal slides. Before you let your child play on a playground on a hot summer’s day, do a heat check. Gently touch the equipment yourself. If it’s too hot, look for another place to play. Other areas that can become very hot under the summer sun include children’s car seats and railings near swimming pools.
5. Plan time outside wisely.
The sun is at its hottest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. If possible, save outdoor playtime until the early evening hours, at around 5 or 6 p.m. If your children do go outside during the warmest parts of the day, limit the time outside. Let them play for 30 minutes then have them take a break and rest in a shaded area.
Be alert for any signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If your child complains of dizziness or pain in the muscles, bring them into a cooler area. The same is true if you notice your child sweating profusely or acting sluggish or irritable. Call your doctor or a local hospital if the symptoms persist for more than an hour, even after you have provided water and shade.
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