With the summer months approaching, children and their parents are looking forward to long warm days playing in the sun. There are a myriad of outdoor activities that can keep kids busy such as sports in the backyard, summer camps, the pool, and long bike rides.
A recent article by the American Academy of Pediatrics addresses concerns that we should have about outside activities for children during the warmest time of the year. It is very important for children to play outside and be physically active throughout the summer, and you can do this by planning your child’s day to keep them safe from the sun and heat.
Here are five easy steps for safe and fun play in the sun:
- Prevent sunburn: The best form of protection against sunburn is to cover up as much as possible, wear a hat to shade your face and sunglasses that provide UVA and UVB protection. Stay in the shade when possible especially between 10 am to 4 pm when the sun is at its brightest. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen even on cloudy days. Sun screen must be SPF 15 or greater and reapplied every two hour.
- Dress for the sun: Wear light weight clothes that are light colors. This will help your child stay cool. Your child should only be dressed in one layer, so if they sweat the sweat can evaporate. Moisture wicking clothes are a great choice.
- Prevent dehydration: Let your child drink as much water as they want before you go outside. They should not go outside thirsty or begin any physical activity in the heat when they are thirsty. Make sure they take a water bottle with them when they go outside.
- Take breaks: Tell your child to take a break every 20 minutes. It does not have to be a long break, but a few minutes to get a drink and catch their breath. If it is really hot out or they are really sweating, take a break every 15-20 minutes.
- Watch for signs of overheating or dehydration: If your child complains of stomach or head pains, it could be a sign that your child is too hot or dehydrated. You should take your child to a cool place indoors with air conditioning if possible. Find some shade if that is not possible. Then give your child water to drink, and take some time to cool down.
If your child is planning to play in a sports game that will make them run for an hour, they may need a sports drink. If children get their head and shirt wet with sweat, they will need to replace electrolytes they lost in their sweat. Lower calorie sports drinks such as G2 are a good choice. Water is the best choice for exercising that will take less than hour.