Don’t Get Burned By the Sun
Summer is approaching, and the days can get extremely hot. As the season nears, it’s important to make sure that you’re prepared to protect your kids against the risks that come from both the summer sun and heat. While parents often protect against sunburn, it’s also important to be aware of the risks of dehydration and heat-related illnesses. Here are some tips to keep your family safe and having fun all summer long.
Regularly Apply Sunscreen or Sunblock
Just a few serious sunburns can significantly increase your child’s risk of having skin cancer later in life. Also, they’re painful and can force kids to miss out on activities and playtime. As a result, you want to ensure that you’re always protecting kids from the sun and harmful UV rays.
Whenever your child is going to be outdoors, apply sunblock or sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and UVA and UVB protection. You’ll want to apply generously about 30 minutes before exposure. When applying sunblock, don’t forget about ears, noses, lips and the often-forgotten tops of the feet. Even after a thorough first application, it’s important to reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially if your child is swimming or exercising. (Note: for children under 6 months of age, following specific sunscreen instructions or talk to your pediatrician).
Many people have questions about whether to apply sunblock or sunscreen. You can read more about the differences here, but it’s important to keep in mind that neither actually block you from the sun. One primary difference between the two is that sunscreen contains chemicals whereas sunblock does not. If your child is going to be swimming in an ocean, lake or river you might want to apply a biodegradable sunblock.
No matter what type of protection you choose, it’s important to remember that sunscreen isn’t meant to allow for too much time in the sun. So the best way to keep your child protected this summer is by using sunscreen in combination with some other protective measures like staying out of direct sun during the middle of the day, wearing a hat and sunglasses and wearing a long-sleeve shirt.
Protecting Your Child From Dehydration This Summer
Even on the hottest summer days, many kids want to spend the whole day outside playing. While all this play and outdoors time is good for them and one of the best parts of summer, you want to make sure they stay healthy.
Dehydration can occur whenever kids lose more fluids than they take in. The excessive sweating that can come from active summer play puts kids at a heightened risk of dehydration. While sweating is healthy and a good cooling system, it could lead to your child losing too much water and becoming dehydrated.
The best way to protect against dehydration is to, first, send your child out to play fully hydrated. Make sure they have had plenty of water before they head out and have them drink a cool glass of water or two immediately before going outside. Once they’re outside, children should take regular breaks to sip cool water. During active play, these breaks should be every 15-20 minutes. Always send your child out to play with a bottle of cool water and ensure that they’re consistently drinking.
The first signs of dehydration are irritability, fatigue and thirst. It’s important to note that by the time kids feel thirsty, they’re already dehydrated so you don’t want to simply wait until they ask for something to drink. You can read more about dehydration symptoms and treatment here.
Recognizing and Treating Heat Stroke
Untreated dehydration can lead to heat-related illnesses such as cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat cramps results in painful cramps throughout a child’s arms, legs and muscles. Heat exhaustion can cause dizziness, vomiting, headaches, muscle pain and weakness. The most extreme heat-related illness is heat stroke. If a child has heat stroke, their body temperature will be 104 degrees or higher with extreme symptoms including nausea and vomiting, seizures, unconsciousness or coma.
For any heat-related illness, you want to immediately take the child out of the sun. Both heat exhaustion and heat stroke need immediate medical care, but heat stroke is a medical emergency and can be deadly if not treated. If your child is showing signs of a heat stroke, they should be rushed to the nearest hospital.
Summer is a wonderful time for kids to be outside enjoying the warm weather and the extra time to play. While all of this time outdoors comes with some risks, a few protective measures can ensure that your children are protected from the sun and heat this summer.