Kids and adults both look forward to the warmer weather during the summer. While summer brings plenty of fun activities, summer is also a time when the risk for heat-related illness is at its highest. With a little preparation, you can make sure that everyone enjoys the season without getting overheated.
Push Fluids Before They’re Thirsty
Children are often reluctant to stop playing, even to take care of their basic needs. In one study by the University of Connecticut, between 50 to 75 percent of youth at sports camps were dehydrated, even though they had plenty of breaks and liquids available. If you don't remind them to rehydrate, many kids will wait until they are thirsty to ask for a drink. At that point, they are already at risk of dehydration. Reminding kids to come inside and drink something — once every hour is ideal — can reduce their chances of overheating.
Hydration doesn’t have to be boring. If your kids are not big water drinkers, then you can offer them more creative ways of staying hydrated, such as ice pops or watermelon. Pediatricians recommend drinks with electrolytes, such as sports drinks or coconut water, for kids who are exercising. These liquids can replace electrolytes lost through sweat.
Keep Cool Indoors During Peak TemperaturesTemperatures are generally at their highest readings during the middle of the day, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. Avoid planning outdoor activities between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Instead, spend some time indoors cooling off and doing other activities during that time. Encourage kids to watch a movie, read a book, or play a board game while taking a break from the sun.
Make sure the environment inside is cool and comfortable as well. Be sure to service and maintain your HVAC system regularly to prevent any untimely breakdowns. If you don’t have air conditioning, leave your windows open only during the cooler part of the day. Use fans in windows to pull out hot air and bring in cool air during the night. Try putting ice in front of a fan — the ice will cool the air, and the fan can circulate the cool air.
Head for the PoolIf you will be spending time outdoors during the hottest part of the day, combat the heat by staying in the shade and taking part in water activities. Swimming is a great way to cool off outside, but pools aren’t always easily accessible. Many towns have splash pads or other water-themed parks that are free to the community.
Water tables, whether store-bought or homemade ones, can encourage kids to slow down and cool off, and they are great for engaging the little ones in sensory play. Other parents have had success with spray bottles full of water, water balloon pinatas, and sponge water bombs. Always remember to apply plenty of sunscreen to kids when they are outside.
Summer should be a time of relaxation and play for kids. With a little creativity, you and your family can keep cool, hydrated, and safe this summer and still have plenty of fun.