Children are less likely to recognize the early signs of sickness caused by warmer weather and so it’s important for parents/caregivers to pay attention and ensure children do not reach the point of illness caused by heat.
When children play outside in the sun they will likely sweat, which causes loss of electrolytes and puts them at a higher risk of dehydration. Children need to drink plenty of water, and avoid sugary, carbonated and caffeinated drinks to reduce risk of dehydration.
- Fill water bottles half-way then add ice cubes to ensure water stays cool for the hours ahead.
- Bring extra water and encourage littles ones to frequently sip.
- Make homemade popsicles: make lemon water and freeze into popsicles. This is a great way to avoid unnecessary sugar/sweets and still help kids keep cool.
- Eat raw fruits and vegetables. These foods help cool the body and keep kids hydrated.
- If you’re packing a meal and/or snacks for the day include foods that don’t need cooking – there are lots of recipes for cold soup that are healthy and cooling.
- Make a smoothie and consider freezing into popsicles (recipe below):
- one large ripe banana
- one kg of partially thawed strawberries
- two cups water/milk (cow’s milk, almond or soy beverage, depending on family’s preference)
- Blend and serve, or freeze for later
- Keep your food in a safe temperature zone – use ice packs to keep picnic foods cool, particularly foods that may spoil easily such as dairy, meat or prepared dips.
Did you know temperatures reach their highest point at approximately 3:00 p.m.? Parents/caregivers should plan activities inside or in shady areas to ensure children are not under the sun during the hottest time of the day.
- Pack sunscreen, sun hats and sunglasses for the whole family.
- Dress for the weather – dress children in light weight breathable materials. If children are outdoors, ensure they wear long sleeves to protect themselves from the sun. Spend as much time in the shade as possible.
- Keep long hair tied up or in braids to allow as much air as possible to evaporate sweat.
- Keep room temperatures down – if you have air conditioning, set it to maintain a comfortable temperature. No air conditioning? Use fans to circulate air and keep blinds or curtains closed to reflect out sunshine and keep rooms cool.
- Head to an air-conditioned library or community centre for play time.
- Look for splash-pads suitable for young children.
Keeping children hydrated, cool and protected from the sun will ensure the long, hot days ahead are enjoyed by all. Do you have any creative ideas or ways you keep children cool and safe in the heat? We’d love to hear from you – share your ideas on twitter and include @BCChildrensHosp