As much of the country gets ready to be hit by this weekend’s heatwave, parents should be especially concerned about keeping their little ones cool and safe. While triple-digit temps are uncomfortable for all of us, children are particularly susceptible to heat stroke, Dr. Claire McCarthy, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital told The New York Times, as their bodies heat up quicker than adults. Here are five easy ways to keep your kids safe when the temps are soaring.
Make sure they take breaks
Your heatwave plans probably include hitting up the local pool or sprinkler park, but even though there’s water to cool things down, watch your child for signs he or she is overheating. Kids are unlikely to tell you when they’re heating up too quickly, so it’s up to you to enforce those indoor or in-the-shade breaks.
Keep them hydrated
Make sure your kids are drinking plenty of water in a heatwave, and also bring along a spray bottle to mist them down from time to time. You and your child need water to replace the fluids lost from sweating, according to a study published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal. Don’t risk dehydration — keep those reusable bottles filled (and add ice to keep drinks cooler longer).
Dress to protect
While it’s normal to let them run around in a bathing suit or shorts and tank top, it’s important to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays, according to board-certified dermatologist Elizabeth S. Martin, MD, FAAD of the American Academy of Dermatology. Dressing your children in lightweight, breathable clothing will help prevent sunburn. Consider rash guards for kids of any gender, and slather on a broad-spectrum SPF (remember to reapply every time kiddo gets out of the water).
Limit outdoor play
Of course your kids to want to be outside, especially running through the sprinkler. But make sure to limit that time to 30 minutes, Seattle Children’s Hospital urges on its website, and find indoor activities like going to the mall or the movies on these super-hot days. If you don’t have air conditioning at home, hit up cooler places like the local library.
Watch for signs of heat stroke
If your child’s skin gets hot and dry and they become dizzy, sleepy or confused, move them to a cooler place and apply cool wet cloths to the skin. When core temperature spikes, it can cause serious damage to the body’s organs, so don’t be afraid to call for help if you need it. But don’t feel that you must keep your child inside all day, says David Pollack, MD at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Instead, he suggests simply observing some common sense guidelines to keep kids safe.
With a little precaution (and plenty of ice pops!) you and your kiddos will get through the heatwave just fine — and even have some sweaty summer fun while you’re at it.