South Florida summers positively sizzle, and with children spending more time outdoors during the lazy, hazy days of the season, it’s important to remember to keep them protected from the heat. So, before they head out, make sure to:
Time it right. Curb midday playtime if you can and limit outdoor activities to the cooler hours of the day, in the early morning or evening.
Dress the part. Keep them in clothing that’s lightweight, loose fitting and light colored, and cap things off with a wide-brimmed hat or visor.
Block the sun. Protect them with a “broad spectrum” sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15 that shields both UVA and UVB rays, and make sure it’s applied 30 minutes before kids go outside.
Improve the view. Make wearing sunglasses with 100% UV protection a priority, as sun damage sustained in childhood can lead to later, long-term eye health issues.
Stay in the shade. Have kids play in the shade if they can, and make sure they take regular breaks in shaded areas away from the sun if they can’t.
Keep ’em hydrated. About 5 ounces of water every 20 minutes for a child weighing 90 pounds; increase that by an ounce for every 10 pounds above that. Avoid sugary, carbonated and/or icy cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramps.
Cool off. Encourage kids to spend time indoors in air-conditioned environments, too, either at home or in public spaces like the Miami-Dade Public Library – many branches offer free kid- and family-friendly activities throughout the summer.
Know the danger signs. Children are especially vulnerable to heat stroke and exhaustion; keep a watchful eye over them and if you see any of the signs – which include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, intense thirst, rapid breathing, infrequent urination, intense sleepiness or exhaustion, skin numbness/tingling, and muscle aches and spasms – immediately contact your pediatrician or health care provider.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and Harvard Health Publishing.