Keep Your Children Cool, Safe, and Hydrated this Summer!

Summer time is such an exciting time of year for most children. School is out, winter clothes are put away, and time can be spent exploring, having outdoor adventures, and building relationships with family and friends. If you want your children to learn to treasure the outdoors and gain all the benefits of nature-based play, it is important to plan for how to make these adventures as safe as possible for your kids. With the toasty temperatures outdoors, children, especially infants and toddlers under age 4, are at the highest risk for heat-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms of heat-related illness include dizziness, nausea, confusion, a fast pulse, fainting, headache, and either very hot or cold and clammy skin.

Tips for Preventing Heat-related Illness in Kids:

  • Dress children (especially infants) in loose, light clothing.
  • Keep children adequately hydrated. When your children are playing outdoors, always make sure that they have easy access to water to avoid dehydration.
  • Never leave a child in a parked car, even if the windows are open. Cars can heat up very quickly in the summer. Be careful of leaving sleeping children in the car who would otherwise get themselves out and might be overlooked.
  • Avoid being outside when the sun is highest during the day, especially if there are no clouds or trees for shade.

Prevent Sunburn and other burns

  • If you have activities outdoors, it is best to schedule them before 10 am or after 4 pm. 10am-4pm are the hours with the greatest amount of sun exposure and risk for burn.
  • Apply sunscreen (at least SPF 15) on your children 30 minutes before going outside and have them wear hats during outside activities. Keep sunscreen on hand and reapply at least every 2 hours.
  • Infants under 6 months old often have skin that is very sensitive to the chemicals in sunscreen and to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. It is wisest to protect young babies from exposure to the sun using shade protection.
  • Have your child wear sunglasses. UV rays from the sun can increase the risk of having cataracts later in life.
  • In hot places, be careful about playground equipment that rise in temperature to a dangerous level. Slides especially can reach dangerous temperatures so please make sure to place the back of your hand on slides and other playground equipment to test the temperature before allowing your children to play on them.

Drink Water

Water is important to regulating body temperature, digesting food, running the body’s digestive system, removing waste from the body, and protecting body joints and tissues.

  • Children and adolescents need to drink plenty of water every day. In the heat, our bodies tend to lose water faster than usual (especially through sweat) and so drinking extra water is needed.
  • The amount of water a child needs daily depends on their weight, age, the outside temperature, and their activity level. The following is an estimated total water intake recommendation from for kids. Note that the recommended amounts of water also include all water absorbed through foods, and that high levels of physical activity and heat require extra water.

Kids Total Daily Beverage and Drinking Water Requirements

Age Range      Gender       Total Water (Cups/Day)
4 to 8 years           Girls and Boys       5
9 to 13 years       Girls   7
    Boys   8
14 to 18 years   Girls       8
    Boys   11
  • Data are from Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) Tables. Recommended Daily Allowance and Adequate Intake Values: Total Water and Macronutrients.

Helping your Children to Drink More Water

  • Encourage your child to carry a water bottle with them throughout the day, especially if they will be outside or physically active. Consider letting your child pick out a freezer-safe water bottle that you can keep icy cold for them.
  • Serve water at every meal.
  • Limit sugary drinks and juices. If your child doesn’t like the taste of water, try adding a slice of lemon for flavor. 

With the warming temperatures and approaching end of the school year, there is no better time than the present to help your children learn to treasure the outdoors and gain all the benefits of nature-based play. As long as they are dressed appropriately and adequately hydrated, they will benefit from the fresh air, vitamin D, and physical activity. Teaching our children to go outside and play can set them up for a healthful lifestyle long into their adult years so encourage your kids to get outside and enjoy some fun in the sun. 

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