Friday, 31 July 2015

Keeping your children safe this summer

With the weather getting warmer, and another heat wave set to hit just next week, it is incredibly important to make sure your children stay safe and cool in the warmer months. The summer holidays are just weeks away, and weather permitting, your children are likely to want to spend a lot of time outside. It is therefore, your responsibility to remain vigilant to the heat, as well as being able to recognise early signs of heat or sunstroke. Of course, the easiest way to prevent this is to ensure that they are sensible and safe in the sun, whilst still allowing them to have fun. 

Whenever your children are outside, or on a hot and sunny day, ensure that they are drinking enough. Children will not drink, unless they are thirst, and because of that it is incredibly easy for them to become dehydrated quicker than you may realise. Try and get them into a bit of a routine that ensures they are drinking before and after they have been running around, and having another drink every time they stop. Or, alternatively, you could keep their favourite cup next to the sink, and tell them to fill it up and drink it all every time they come in. If they are getting bored with just drinking water, mix it up a little bit to make it more fun and interesting for them. Try giving them some watermelon pieces, or some other fruit or veg with a high water content, or flavour their water naturally with some fruit juice. Alternatively, you can make your own healthy homemade natural ice lollies – get your children involved when you are making them, as they will then be excited to eat them.
Make sure they are dressed appropriately in the morning for the weather that day. Avoid dressing your children in tight fitting, heavy fabrics, such as denim, as this will just make them hotter as the day goes on. If they are going to be outside, it is so important that they are comfortable in what they are wearing. Fabrics like cotton and linen are ideal, as they are very light and will not absorb the heat. Dress them in lighter colours, such as white that will reflect the light, and not absorb like black does. Layer them up in very light layers, for the cooler evenings, or for if the weather suddenly turns. 

As well as concentrating on their clothing, you also need to pay special attention to their skin, head and eyes. It cannot be said enough just how important it is to protect your child’s skin by applying a high SPF factor sun cream to them even if it does not appear overly sunny. Do not fall into the trap that many people do and assume because you have put it on once, you are protected for the whole day, as this is simply not the case. You need to reapply it regularly and every time they have been in water, whether that is in a paddling pool, outdoor swimming pool or the sea. On top of that, make sure that your children are completely kitted out for the weather that they are playing in. Ensure that they are wearing an appropriate cap or sun hat, and that they are protecting their eyes with sunglasses. 

The hottest time of the day falls between 11am and 3pm. During these hours, your child is more at risk from both the sun and the heat that comes with it. If your children are outside in these hours, extra precaution must be taken. Find a shaded area for them to play in, and ensure that they are eating and drinking enough. Ideally, try and keep your children inside during this time, and find an alternative activity if it is an incredibly hot day. Babies should be kept in the shade at all times, regardless of the time, as their skin is much more sensitive. 

There are many ways in which you can make the hot weather safe and fun. Plan ahead, by looking at the weather forecast. Although, it can change at short notice, having a plan for if the weather is hot will keep you prepared. This way, you can plan activities, outfits and suitable hot weather snacks (such as, ensuring you have a supply of watermelons, and pre-making your homemade ice lollies.). If the weather does catch you off guard, and a cooler day turns into an incredibly hot day, there are preparations you can make in advance for these eventualities. If your garden is large enough, have a paddling pool ready that you can quickly fill up with cool water. This will help to keep your children cool, as well as creating a fun activity for them. Just remember to make sure that they keep hydrated, and that you re-apply their sun cream every time they leave the water.
It is important to know how to keep your house cool as well, so that there is a place that your children can come to and relax should they get too hot outside. There is nothing nicer that walking into your house and it being cool on a hot day, but likewise, there is nothing worse than walking into your home and feeling like you have entered a green house. There are many simple tricks that can help to cool your house down. If it is really hot outside, opening the windows will just bring your house temperature to that of the outside. Instead, shut the windows and turn on fans or an air conditioning unit if you are lucky enough to have one. Use blinds or curtains to block out the sun, and to make the room feel much cooler. 

When you are getting your child ready for bed, after they have been playing outside on a hot day, put them in a cool bath to refresh them. Know the signs to look out for if you are concerned that your child is suffering from heat stroke, and remember that it does not take long for heat exhaustion to develop. Symptoms can include, tired and weakness; intense thirst; being sick; heavy sweating and a fast pulse. It is important to treat your child before it gets any worse, and cool them down. However, prevention is better than cure, and it is important to monitor your child and ensure that they are staying safe and enjoying the sun.

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