School is out and summer is here! That means long, unstructured days along with pounding sun and stifling heat. Corralling the kids in an air-conditioned house all day is the last thing a parent wants to do, but how can you keep kids physically active over the long vacation and still keep them safe in the summer heat?
Lather Sunscreen, Repeat
Even the shade of a beach umbrella isn’t perfect protection from the rays of the sun, because light hitting water is reflected and scattered everywhere. Use sunscreen of a high SPF (at least 15) whenever your kids are outside. Make sure to reapply according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, twice as much if they’re swimming.
Be Active In The Early Morning And Late Afternoon
One way to keep the kids safe from the summer heat is to plan the day wisely. Set out on that bike ride in the early morning, before the sun reaches its zenith. Plan the picnic in the later part of the afternoon, when the sun’s fierce rays are weakening. Pick up some wise advice from the Spanish and spend the brutal hours from ten to two o’clock enjoying a siesta inside.
Keep An Eye On The Weather
Overcast days can provide some relief from the heat and the pounding of the sun. The UV index tends to be low in cloudy weather, so take advantage by scheduling outdoor activities. Hike through the woods, take a break at a nearby park, or an excursion to the nearest watering hole. Keep in mind that cloud cover doesn’t preclude sunburn, so be sure to slather your kids with sunscreen.
Lightweight, cotton clothes that cover a child’s shoulders and legs can help avoid sunburn, as can a hat and sunglasses, if you can convince your child to wear them. Swim shirts are a great way for your kid to avoid unintentional burning while splashing in the waves.
Drink Lots Of Water
Keep your children well hydrated during the summer months, especially when they’re active. Always carry sufficient amounts of water around so that you’re not caught unprepared.
Know The Signs
Heatstroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion can come on fast in both children and adults. Be aware of the symptoms so you can treat them quickly.
- Heat Cramps manifest as spasms in the legs, stomach, and sometimes in the hands. If your child experiences these symptoms, bring him someplace cool and make sure he drinks lots of water. The symptoms should ease within an hour or two.
- Heat Exhaustion is more serious and manifests in a variety of ways, including paleness, weakness, dizziness, nausea, and sometimes mild fever. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.
- Heatstroke is life-threatening. It manifests as a high fever, with confusion, flushing, and sometimes with sweating and sometimes not. It must be treated as an emergency.
Helping your children stay active in the summer is a healthy behavior, but don’t hesitate to keep them inside during the peak hours of a heat wave. Take out board games, make an indoor obstacle course, or teach your kids how to make homemade ice pops to keep them occupied. Eventually the heat wave will break, and you’ll all be back outside, enjoying the fine weather.