While the summer sun brings plenty of outdoor fun for your child, the intense heat can be harmful with prolonged exposure. Extreme temperatures can be dangerous for anyone, but young children need much more attention, as they may not communicate their discomfort and can overheat faster than adults.
Follow these five steps to keep your kids safe in the summer heat:
- Hydrate properly
The summertime heat and humidity can quickly lead to dehydration. Be sure to have fresh, cool fluids readily available. Avoid sugary drinks, which can actually cause their bodies to lose more fluids. Remember, your children (especially if very young) may not tell you they are thirsty. Monitor their fluid intake to ensure appropriate hydration.
- Avoid the hottest times of day
When playing outside, avoid the extreme heat during the middle of the day. Temperatures are usually the hottest between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Consider limiting your outdoor activities to the mornings and evenings.
- Protect against the sun
Sunscreen is essential for protecting young, sensitive skin from sunburns. Wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses and lightweight, light-colored clothing can help protect against harmful UV rays while keeping your children cool.
- Take frequent breaks
Have your children take regular breaks from outdoor activities in the heat. This enables them to cool down, hydrate and get a break from the sun.
- Double check your backseat
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, temperatures inside a closed vehicle can climb more than 20 degrees above the outside air temperature in minutes, even with the windows cracked. If a child is left inside, their body temperature can quickly rise to dangerous levels. Never leave a child alone in a car, and always double check your backseat before leaving your vehicle.
Your state's Department of Education and athletic associations have set standards for maximum temperatures for which daycares, schools and athletic programs can allow children to be outside. The policy may range from maximum temperatures of 85-105 degrees while factoring in humidity. If you are unsure of the local standards, be sure to research your state's heat policies before allowing children to play outside in extreme heat and humidity.
If you think your child may be suffering from heat stress (including heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat cramps and heat rash) or extreme sunburn, get your child out of the heat, hydrate them and consult a physician if the condition does not improve quickly.