Technology has given new meaning to the word “playtime” and we find ourselves reminiscing our childhood far too often – a childhood once filled with outdoor games and fun under the sun. There are many advantages to our kids experiencing the same things we used to enjoy and because of these, we must remain supportive to their extra-curricular activities and most importantly, proactive in ensuring their safety.
We’ve gathered a group of health experts and correlated their most recommended tips and practices on how to keep your child hydrated, prevent heatstroke, and avoid sunburn.
Hydration is Key
- Water. The best way to prevent dehydration from happening is to always have water available. Keep your kids’ water jugs filled and space out their drinking throughout the day – they don’t necessarily have to chug it all down in one sitting. It’s evident to feel hot when outside but be sure they take regular breaks. It is also important for kids to already be hydrated before going outside.
- Cool Temperature. If you noticed their temperature is higher than usual, a cool moist towel on their neck and/or forehead can help bring their temperature down. It is also helpful to train them to speak up to an adult when they start to feel light headed.
- Replace Electrolytes. Dr. Anastasia Benson, physician and owner of Paradigm Family Health, advises that aside from water, Pedialyte or Gatorade (for older kids) is essential in replacing electrolytes in active children. However, Gatorade contains too much sugar so it’s best to water it down to 1/3 part Gatorade and 2/3 parts water. Speaking of sugar, these sweet treats can cause our bodies to get hydrated faster – much like salty food does. Because of this, it’s best to limit your kid’s junk food, sweets, and salt intake.
- Nutrients. Our group of medical experts agrees that mixing in fruits to your child’s regular diet can also help promote hydration. Since they are made up of water, fiber, protein, and a bit of sugar for that much needed energy boost, they are a healthy and nutritious addition to your child’s meal. Milk is also a great addition to promote hydration.
- Cover Up. Craig Titsworth, coach and health teacher at Richardson Independent School District, sites that covering up as much skin as possible with thin clothing also keeps them from losing moisture through sunburn.
- Avoid Sugar and Salt. Kari Kloepper, Director of Kid Connections at Lake Highlands Baptist Church, says they “take a huge igloo cooler with water outside with us and encourage the kids to drink. Real fruit juice popsicles can also be good. No soft drinks and sugary fruit drinks!”
- Prevent a Heatstroke. Dr. Majorie Milici, a pediatrician at Baylor Pediatric Center, warns “once having a heat stroke, your child is at a greater risk for the next one. Spray them with water, play in the pool, or fan them. Keep areas where there is blood flow cool such as their neck.”
Treating and Preventing Sunburn
- Treat ASAP. Craig advises to treat sunburn with ibuprofen as soon as possible and as regularly as allowed. He continues to say “Also, using Aveeno body wash in the shower, and then using a good body cream or lotion over the burned areas for the next couple of days. This will minimize and sometimes prevent the peeling and blistering, depending on the severity of the burn.”
- Natural Remedies. Dr. J. Patrick Hieber, a pediatrician at Clinical Pediatrics, advises “Tylenol or something similar for discomfort. Delay popping the blister by a day or two so the skin won’t be too sensitive.” Aloe vera or a product with aloe vera as its main ingredient is the best natural way. Dr. Milici adds that vinegar is a good natural remedy as well.
- Sunscreen. Prevent sunburn by applying sunscreen with at least SPF30, and reapplying regularly, Dr. Milici advises every hour or so. Especially when you’re at the beach, swimming causes the protection to wash off so making sure you have a constant layer on your skin is the best way to go. Because of this, Kari points out that waterproof sunscreen or sunblock would be most helpful.
- Take Extra Precaution. Craig further discusses that he uses PABA Free sunscreens on his kids because “the chemical can sometimes cause a burning sensation, but that is about as far as I look. I look for 50 to 100 SPF. But the bottom line is this: Don’t depend on sunscreens. Wear bucket hats, thin Dri-Fit hoodies and long sleeved shirts. I have my children wear rash guards and board shorts while swimming and at waterparks. When I coach football outside in the afternoons.. I just cover up and find myself staying cooler than everyone else.”
- Limit Sun Time. Craig explains, “It depends on how much sun their skin is exposed to, how much shade can be utilized, what they are wearing, and how much water is available. You would be surprised at how long you can stay outside if you do it right.” However, Dr. Milici advises that 15-30 minutes a day directly under the sun is healthy enough but shade should always be available.
Hope this helps you and your loved ones stay safe out there! Be sure to check back often for more helpful tips and advice!