Oh, sweet summertime – pools, vacations, barbecues and stifling heat. Okay, one of those things isn’t so sweet. The summer is a great time for family fun, but the heat can wrinkle your plans, especially for kids. Children are particularly vulnerable to high temperatures and extended exposure to extreme heat can cause dehydration, fainting, sunburns and other serious medical conditions.
In recent years, extreme heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events. Save the Children has created some simple steps families can take to keep children safe in extreme heat:
- Do NOT leave children unsupervised in parked cars. Even in less-threatening weather, vehicles can rapidly heat up to dangerous temperatures. A child left inside a car is at risk for severe heat-related illnesses and/or death, even if the windows are cracked open.
- Seek shelter in cool areas. Air-conditioning is the best form of protection against heat-related illness, so be sure to spend as much time in air-conditioned spaces as possible during extreme heat waves. If you know you and your little one will be outside most of the day, plan on taking some indoor breaks to cool down between activities.
- Stay informed. Listen to local news and weather channels for health, safety and weather-related updates, including heat warnings, watches and advisories. Follow the guidance of local officials.
- Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Choose lightweight, light-colored and breathable fabrics (like cotton), as well as broad-spectrum sunscreen (with protection from both UVA and UVB sun rays) to protect you and your child from the heat and potential sun-related skin damage. Hats and umbrellas can also be used to limit exposure to harmful sun rays.
- Drink water. Remember to drink plenty of liquids, regardless of your activity level. Check your baby’s diaper for concentrated urine (dark in color), which can indicate dehydration. Fluids should be drunk before, during and after exposure to extreme heat.
- Learn how to identify heat-related illnesses. Learn the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps and severe sunburn. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek medical assistance.
- Rest up. Make sure that children get plenty of rest if they are being active all day. Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day.
- Plan ahead for indoor fun. Children may become anxious or restless from being kept indoors. Prepare some indoor activities and games so you can limit screen-time on televisions, phones and tablets.
- Learn your caregivers’ disaster plans. If your child’s school or child care center is located in an area that experiences extreme heat during the summer, talk to the caregiver to make sure you know the plan if there is a heat wave or severe weather warning.