Summer is a time for outdoor fun, and a few tips from Dr. Alicia Webb of the Children’s of Alabama Emergency Department can help kids stay safe in the heat and humidity.
Heat-related illness and dehydration are two primary concerns.
The UV rays from summer sun are strongest during the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “Try to avoid being out in the heat during those peak summer high heat hours if possible,” said Dr. Webb.
Staying hydrated is key. “Encourage your children to drink plenty of fluids both before during and after all outdoor activities.” Plain water is preferred.
During vigorous exercise, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children from 9-12 years of age generally need to drink about 3 to 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes to stay hydrated. Teens need to drink about 34 to 50 ounces per hour. If vigorous exercise extends beyond one hour in a day or your child is sweating a lot, electrolyte-supplemented beverages may be necessary.
And sun protection is important for all ages. The AAP provides the following guidance for protecting your family from sunburns:
- Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, an umbrella, or the stroller canopy.
- Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (up to SPF 50). An SPF of 15 or 30 should be fine for most people. More research studies are needed to test if sunscreen with more than SPF 50 offers any extra protection.
- For babies younger than 6 months: Use sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face, if protective clothing and shade are not available.
- For babies older than 6 months: Apply to all areas of the body, but be careful around the eyes. If your baby rubs sunscreen into their eyes, wipe their eyes and hands clean with a damp cloth. If the sunscreen irritates their skin, try a different brand or sunscreen with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. If a rash develops, talk with your child’s doctor.
- Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after swimming, sweating, or drying off with a towel. Because most people use too little sunscreen, make sure to apply a generous amount.
For more summer safety tips from Children’s of Alabama: