HOT WEATHER TIPS
As the heat of summer settles around us, it is important to avoid
overexposure to the sun and heat. Because of their less mature bodies,
children are especially sensitive to the effects of the heat. Here are
some tips for keeping cool this summer.
- Use fans or air conditioning to keep
indoor air moving.
- Arrange outdoor play for before 10:00
a.m. and after 2:00 p.m. to avoid the worst sun of the day.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight,
light-colored clothing. Encourage children to wear lightweight hats
when they are in the sun. This practice is especially important for
children with fair hair and very light skin.
- Always apply sunscreen before going out.
Check the label to be sure the sunscreen provides adequate protection
and will not wear off quickly in water. There is no such thing as a
"healthy tan." Using sunscreen to avoid a tan will lessen
the risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
- Provide a lot of water. It is easy to
lose fluids in the heat. Offer the children something to drink
frequently throughout the day. A few ounces every 20 minutes is better
than large amounts taken at infrequent intervals.
- Provide shaded areas for outdoor play
during hot sunny days. When temperatures exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit,
children should not be involved in strenuous outdoor play for long
periods of time.
With reasonable precautions, you and the
children will probably withstand the heat fairly well. But it is also
important to be alert for the warning signs of heatstroke and heat
Heatstroke, which can be fatal, comes on rather suddenly. Warning signs
include headache, weakness, and sudden loss of consciousness. Victims of
heatstroke usually don't sweat much. Their pulses are very rapid and their
skin is hot and dry. They also have extremely high body temperatures.
Heatstroke victims should be cooled off as quickly as possible by wrapping
or immersing them in ice or cold water. After taking these emergency
measures, take victims to the hospital immediately.
Heat exhaustion is a less serious but much more common condition. Warning
signs include excessive urination, gradual weakness, nausea, anxiety or
agitation, and excessive sweating. Unlike heatstroke, heat exhaustion
causes pale, clammy skin, and a weak, slow pulse. Victims of heat
exhaustion often feel faint or disoriented.
The best thing to do for victims of heat exhaustion is to have them take
it easy for a while. Find them a shady spot or an air-conditioned building
to sit or lie down in. Give them a few ounces of cool water every few
Heat cramps may also accompany heat exhaustion. They occur because the
body has lost salt through heavy sweating. Typically, heat cramps occur
first in the hands and feet. Water or foods that contain salt will usually
relieve heat cramps quickly.
High humidity, overexertion, poor ventilation, and heavy clothing can all
contribute to heat-related illness. Dehydration, diarrhea, age, and
chronic illness can also make individuals more susceptible to these
conditions. As you approach a summer of "fun in the sun," be
sure to protect the children and yourself from the effects of the heat.
Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC.
Pankau, J.W. (1993). Hot weather tips. In Todd, C.M. (Ed.), *Day care
center connections*, 2(6), pp. 5-6. Urbana-Champaign, IL: University
of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.