The weather is heating up and school is winding down for the semester. It’s clear: summer is here! As your family gears up for summertime fun, keep these handy tips in mind to stay safe while enjoying the season.
Say “hello” to hydration
If there were an Olympic Games for drinks, water would be the gold medal winner, without question. Everything on planet Earth needs water to survive (a fact juice, sports drinks and soda definitely don’t have going for them!). Water benefits every aspect of our bodies, even our mood and ability to concentrate. Plus, it’s much less expensive than its sugary competitors.
As you’re enjoying the outdoors with your kids this summer, keep an eye out for signs of dehydration:
- Muscle cramps
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Rapid heartbeat
- High body temperature
- Less urination or dark-colored urine
If you notice your child is showing signs of dehydration, get them immediately to a cool, shaded place and encourage them to drink water. Never hesitate to call your child’s pediatrician if you have questions or concerns about dehydration. If you feel your child is having a dehydration or heat-related medical emergency, go to the nearest emergency room or call 911.
As they say, the best medicine is an ounce of prevention, and that’s definitely the case with dehydration. Encourage your kids to drink water throughout the day, not just when they feel thirsty. Drinking plenty of fluids is especially important when being active or being out in the heat; kids should drink 10 gulps of water for every 20 minutes of play, and teens should drink 20 gulps.
Make water fun! Try infusing water with your favorite fruits – a few of my favorites are lemon, cucumber and mint. Another fun trick is to allow your child to pick their own reusable bottle or fun straw to drink water from.
Safety under the sun
In addition to staying hydrated, summertime safety includes the basics of staying safe under the California sun:
- Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Their sensitive skin can very easily get sunburned, which can cause serious health issues. If your baby does get a sunburn, call your pediatrician right away; they may need special care.
- Slather on the sunscreen! Apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with naturally occurring minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and with a minimum SPF 15 about 20 minutes before going out into the sun. Remember, the higher the SPF number, the more sun-blocking protection from the sun. Make sure to reapply every two hours, or each time your child gets out of the water. If your child is younger than 6 months, talk with your pediatrician about safe use of sunscreen.
- Dress your child in layers of lightweight, breathable clothing to protect their skin from the sun but also keep them cool and comfortable. Hats and sunglasses are not only fun accessories, they protect the eyes, face and neck from sun damage.
- Avoid being out between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The sun’s harmful UV rays are strongest during this timeframe, so it’s a good time to take activities indoors for a while.
Enjoy your family time in the sun this season, but make sure to follow these tips for healthy summertime fun!
About the Author
Mary Jo Quintero, RN, is a trauma nurse with Valley Children’s Hospital Emergency Department and is also the program coordinator for Valley Children's Water Safety Program.