(NC) Between camp, playgrounds and travel, your kids will be spending plenty of time outdoors this season. While now’s the perfect time to enjoy nature, summer also comes with some health risks. Use these tips from Health Canada to protect your kids.
Understand heat risks. Extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone, but especially for infants and young children. They can be vulnerable to heat illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, fainting, heat rash and muscle cramps. Stay alert for symptoms like dizziness, fainting, extreme thirst and headache.
Check the forecast. Stay informed about local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care. Also, check the local Air Quality Health Index conditions in your area if available. Note that children are more sensitive to air pollution, which tends to be at higher levels during extreme heat.
Use sunscreen. If sun exposure can’t be avoided, use sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Remember, sunscreen will protect against the sun’s ultraviolet rays but not from the heat. Have children wear a rimmed, breathable sun hat and sunglasses, and cover their skin with clothes or sunscreen. Keep babies under one year out of direct sunlight to prevent skin damage and dehydration; keep them in the shade, under a tree, an umbrella or a canopy. Do not put sunscreen on a baby less than 6 months old without asking your health care provider first.
Keep hydrated. Dehydration is dangerous. Give plenty of cool liquids to drink, especially water, before your child feels thirsty. Make it fun by leaving a colourful glass by the sink, and remind your child to drink after every hand washing. Ramp up the taste by flavouring water with natural fruit juice or encourage them to eat more fruits and veggies with high water content, like watermelon.
Take a break. Spend a few hours with your child in a cool place. It could be a tree-shaded area, swimming facility, spray pad or an air-conditioned spot such as a shopping mall, grocery store or public library. Give your child a supervised bath in cool water until they feel refreshed. If using a fan, keep it at a safe distance and aim the airflow in their direction.
Keep bugs away. If you are in an area where mosquitoes are active, protect uncovered skin with insect repellent and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Sunscreen and insect repellents can be used safely together — just apply the sunscreen first.