Summers were made for days at the beach, baseball games, and long days spent outdoors, but even the most perfect of days can quickly head downhill if you aren’t ready for the sun and heat. Truth be told, heat kills more than 650 people in the United States every year. Children and infants are particularly susceptible – and while we want them to remain active this summer, we also want them to stay healthy and safe. Prevent summer fitness and fun from going flat by making sure your kids are prepared for the day ahead:
Stay hydrated. We’re typically told to drink eight glasses of water a day, but if you’re going to be out in the sun, make sure to compensate for the heat and sweat with extra fluids. Note that sugar-laden drinks and alcohol has the opposite effect, dehydrating us, so adults – watch out for those margaritas and kids – steer clear of the sugary drinks. Fun summer food, such as melons or other fresh fruits and veggies are healthy snacks that also help to hydrate, thanks to natural water content – so enjoy them often.
Watch out for the sun. Sun is great for getting that daily dose of vitamin D, but in excess, it damages our skin. Make sure to put on sunscreen first thing in the morning every day – and then reapply it throughout the day before going back out into the sun and as prescribed on the bottle. Each sunscreen has different reapplication requirements, so make sure you know what yours are.
Stay safe. Safety is about more than hydration and sunscreen – it’s also about knowing limits. While we of course encourage outdoor activity, try to keep your kids indoors or at least in a shaded, cool area during peak hours (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.). Also, make sure that as your kids play outside, you remain aware of their location and surroundings. Dangers can exist even in the safest of neighborhoods, so keeping your eyes on your children is your best path forward.
Stay aware. Kids are kids and have a tendency to go, go, go — so make sure to pay attention to their activity levels and know the symptoms of heat-related illness. NOAA has a quick-fact chart at http://www.noaa.gov/features/earthobs_0508/heat.html that gives the symptoms, likely condition, and recommended treatment – consider keeping a copy on hand for quick reference.