6 Tips to Keep Kids Safe in the Sun

By: Mollie Shauger | Tuesday, June 11, 2019 | Child Care

A young girl puts on sunglasses.

From the playground to the beach, summer provides countless opportunities to be outdoors. However, some of the most enjoyable aspects of summer can quickly become dangerous.

More than 600 people die every year from extreme heat in the U.S., and children are one of the groups most at risk for heat-related illnesses like dehydration and heatstroke.

The Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges offers these tips for keeping kids safe in the heat.

1. Never leave a child alone in a vehicle.

The temperature inside a car can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit in just 10 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Heatstroke is triggered when a child’s core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees, and their thermoregulatory system is overwhelmed. Just three degrees more - 107- is fatal. If you’re transporting kids, check out these important tips on how to avoid heatstroke.

2. Lather on the sunscreen.

Your sunscreen should say “broad-spectrum” on the label, which means it will screen out both UVB and UVA rays, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Many sunscreens offer a SPF of 50 and beyond, though the AAP says research is still needed to determine if those lotions actually offer more protection. Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors and reapplied every two hours after swimming, sweating or towel drying.

3. Hydrate.

Be sure kids are drinking plenty of fluids, especially on hot days. Water is best, as too many sugary drinks can hurt a child’s stomach, especially if they’re dehydrated. Fruits are a good snack for summer days because they contain high amounts of water as well. Learn the warning signs of dehydration in kids.

4. Dress accordingly.

On hot days, it’s more important that your child is cool and comfortable than fashionable. Clothing should be lightweight, light-colored and limited to one layer so sweat can more easily evaporate. Children, especially infants, should wear hats to protect their head from sunburn when possible.

5. Keep temperatures in mind when planning activities.

The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but mornings can still start out warm and evenings can still be hot. If there are outdoor activities happening during peak sun, make sure kids are getting breaks to hydrate, rest and cool off.

6. Spend time in cool places.

On very hot days, many communities offer “cooling centers,” or locations where people can get relief from the heat for a few minutes or a few hours. The pool is a good place for the whole family to cool off. Check your local YMCA branch to see if they offer family swim times.


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