Staying Safe in the Sun with Kids:
The summer months are an exciting time for children and their families. From sporting events to beach outings, camping trips to backyard parties – many kids will spend plenty of their summer days outside and in the sun.
Before children head out the door, the following steps are worth considering.
Staying safe in the hot summer temperatures requires families and children to dress accordingly. The following tips are recommended when preparing for outdoor fun during warmer days:
- Dress babies and kids in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
- Consider using one layer of absorbent material to help sweat evaporate. (Also good to know: children have a lower capacity for sweating than adults.)
- Consider clothing and swim gear that may offer your child additional protection from the heat, such as rash guards or clothing with a built-in SPF.
- Wide-brim hats and sunglasses can be especially useful while swimming or at the beach since sun rays can reflect off water and sand.
Sunburn can happen within just 15 minutes of being outside, but signs of it may not show up for hours later. And time can quickly tick by while you’re having fun at the pool or the beach. That’s why it’s important to be proactive and protective when it comes to sending your kid outside for outside fun.
Sunscreen is recommended for children over 6 months of age. Children can prevent repeated sunburns by applying sunscreen before heading outside. Minimizing sun damage not only reduces immediate irritation and pain but also lessens the chances of long-term side effects such as an increased risk of skin cancer. And since most of a person’s sun damage typically happens during childhood, it’s smart to start using sunscreen early and often.
Some other tips to consider:
- Apply sunscreen as soon as you step outside. Fun in the sun can start quickly, so applying sunscreen on children before heading to your destination can help ensure this protection.
- Mineral sunscreens are the best option for children. Not only are they less irritating for the skin, but they also reduce the risk of exposure to potentially harmful chemicals found in many non-mineral formulas.
- Have several bottles of sunscreen on hand. Having a bottle in your car, in a beach bag, in a purse, and at home can help make sure sunscreen is always available. Having a variety of styles – specifically using sprays while on the go – can also be helpful.
Time it out:
When it comes to fun in the sun, timing can be everything. The sun’s rays are typically strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – being aware of this as well as the weather in your local area can help minimize the chances of sun damage or heat-related illnesses among children. Specific ideas to consider include:
- Try playing outside or going out for water play during cooler parts of the day, such as morning or evening hours.
- Keep intense outside play to a minimum during the hottest days. Medical professionals recommend that if it’s 90° or above and humid, children should not exercise or play outside for more than 30 minutes at a time.
- Keep an eye on the forecast so your family can plan ahead and pack accordingly for outdoor activities.
Water and fluids are key to preventing dehydration and heat-related illnesses among children and adults. But remembering to hydrate can be difficult, especially when families are having fun! The following tips can help keep hydration top of mind:
- Ask your child to consume water before heading outside.
- Avoid very cold drinks or drinks with lots of sugar and no electrolytes.
- When appropriate, provide children with drinks that replenish electrolytes (such as sports drinks) when playing outside for extended periods of time. Most experts recommend offering children sports drinks during sports or high-intensity activities only, and still incorporating plenty of water throughout the activity as well.
- Consider getting your child a fun water bottle of their own. This can be particularly useful for getting younger kids to keep sipping.
Summer months are meant for fun, but being smart about sun and heat exposure can help make sure that fun can continue each day. The following resources may help you find unique ways to incorporate summer safety into your family’s everyday life:
- The National Weather Services has this list of fun activities to help you beat the heat.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also offer this guide for spotting heat-related illnesses.
- Children’s Hospital Colorado offers a list of ways to get your child to drink more water.
- Track the sun’s intensity in your area and plan accordingly using the EPA’s UV Index Search