All Woman

Children and the summer heat

Nadine Wilson

Monday, July 16, 2012    

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THE summer can be downright sweltering, and therefore poses serious risks to especially younger children who might not consider their well-being while playing for hours in the sun.

As a parent or care-giver, you will have to monitor your child's activities, even though they are on school break and might feel that they can now get away with playing all day. Children are particularly susceptible to heat strokes and dehydration because they usually lack the judgement to limit exertion and rehydrate themselves at intervals.

"It is quite possible for these things to happen because the time is so hot," said general practitioner Dr Jacqueline Campbell.

Don't wait until your child starts showing symptoms of excessive heat exposure before you start taking precautions. You can start applying the following strategies from now to ensure that they are safeguarded even while enjoying their summer break:

1. Dress them in cotton clothes. Dress them for the season in shorts and T-shirts, sleeveless dresses or tank tops, instead of sweatpants and long sleeved clothes. Also, stay away from dark colours and clothes made from synthetic material. Strive to clothe them whenever possible in white cotton attire which will help to keep them cool. "If you are in a black T-shirt and you are out in the sun, then you are more likely to attract the heat," explained Dr Campbell.

2. Give them lots of fruits and salads. This is far healthier for them than cheesy snacks and sugary biscuits. "You can also have your children help you prepare a fruit salad and if they are going on the road, you can cut it up and put it in a Ziploc bag," said Dr Campbell. Apart from nutrients, fruits and vegetables also contain lots of water that can keep them more hydrated.

3. Give them frozen water bottles. It can be hard to get children to break when they are having fun, so they might find it a hassle to run inside to get water from the fridge while they are playing. Freezing a water bottle overnight which they can take with them outside while they play is a good way to keep them hydrated and your electricity bill stable. "Little children should be reminded to drink water and if you are leaving out in the day, pack an igloo so they can remain properly hydrated," Dr Campbell said.

4. Take them shopping early morning or in the evening. If you must take your children out shopping or on an excursion, it's best to do so outside the hours of 12 noon to four o'clock, when the sun is probably pelting. If you must take them out during the day, then at least have them wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses to offer some shade. Also remember to apply sunscreen if they are going to the beach.

5. Keep the AC and fan running. Turning on the AC in the car or at home will allow your child to feel cooler during this period. Ensure that they at least have access to a fan so that they can cool themselves at intervals while playing or during the nights when it becomes humid. If you haven't been doing so, leave your windows slightly cracked when you are in secure locations so they won't feel so hot when they get in the car.

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