Keep your Child Safe in the Heat

By: Rebecca Michelsen, M.Ed., MCHES, Manager of Community Outreach & Family Programs, Kohl’s Building Blocks Program

Summer has finally arrived! Time to enjoy the great outdoors and all the goodness our warm months give us.  As temperatures heat up, it’s important to protect your little one from heat and the sun’s harmful rays. Below are some helpful tips to keep your child safe this summer.

  • Sun safety – It can take just 15 minutes for unprotected skin to burn in the sun. It is also important to remember that you can get a sunburn on an overcast day.
    • Limit sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is strongest.
    • Look for shade when spending time outdoors.
    • Use a chemical-free sunscreen of SPF 30 or above. Sunscreens that are mineral based are the best options for kids to use. Sunscreen should be reapplied at least every 80 minutes or sooner if you are sweating a lot or swimming. UPV clothing is also helpful in protecting little ones.
    • Consider having your child wear a brimmed hat; this can be especially helpful if your child has little or no hair.
    • Check your child’s medications. Some medications can make skin more sensitive to the sun’s rays.
  • Treat a sunburn:
    • Have your child take a cool, but not cold, bath.
    • Gently apply aloe vera gel to burned areas.
    • Call a pediatrician if blisters develop.
    • Keep your child out of the sun (or cover up) until the sunburn heals.
  • Preventing heat-related illness:
    • Make sure your child is well hydrated by having him drink plenty of fluids before and during activity in hot, sunny weather — even if he’s not thirsty.
    • Avoid overdressing your child. Dress your child in light-colored, loose fitting clothing.
    • Avoid participating in heavy outdoor activity between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. on hot, humid days.
    • Encourage children to take breaks and come indoors to rest and hydrate whenever they are feeling overheated.
  • Warning signs that your child is dehydrated:
    • Lack of energy and/or playfulness.
    • A mouth that appears dry.
    • Fewer wet diapers than normal.
  • Warning signs that your child is overheating
    • Warm to the touch (more than usual).
    • Lack of energy – acting tired or weak.
    • Thirst.
    • Sweating profusely.
  • Never leave a child in a car, no matter how short of a time it may seem. In moderate sun, a car can become like an oven, rising 20 degrees or more in just 10 minutes — extremely dangerous for children, whose body temperatures rise up to five times faster than adults’. In just 60 degree weather, a car can heat up to over 110 degrees. Over 30 percent of deaths from overheating in a car since 1998 have involved children younger than 1 year old; in 2013 alone, 44 American children died of heatstroke after being left in cars.

And most importantly, follow your instincts. If you are too hot or uncomfortable in the heat, so is your child.

How do you keep your child safe in the sun?


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