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While essentials like sunscreen, hats, and shade are important, one of the most crucial steps is keeping children hydrated.
Let’s dive into hydration and other ways to help families stay safe this summer!
1. Drink Water
The Institute of Medicine recommends that children ages 4 to 8 drink about 2 quarts of water a day, with the amount going up as they get older.
Teenage boys should drink 3.5 quarts of water a day, and teenage girls 2.4 quarts a day.
How much more water should children drink amid the summer heat?
“There is no exact calculation for figuring out how much water is enough as kids run around faster and the temperature climbs higher. The good news, according to Dr. Kelsey Logan, director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, is that in most cases kids will drink when they need to if water is available,” according to NPR.
2. Avoid Sugary Drinks
It’s no secret that water is the best option for hydration.
What about drinks with sugar, like fruit juices?
These drinks are very high in sugar, and although many fruit juices contain vitamins and antioxidants, this benefit needs to be weighed against the extra sugar calories that are present in these drinks,” said Dr. Patrick Mularoni of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. “Many juices that are marketed to children are really sugar water with added juice. So, parents should think twice before they reach for a pouch or a box with a straw when their child is thirsty.”
Sports drinks are also a misleading option for summertime hydration.
“Sports drinks contain calories and drinking too much can take away from balanced eating. Don’t let sports drinks replace other nutritious drinks throughout the day,” according to the Children’s Hospital Colorado. “Water is the best choice if your athlete is thirsty between meals. Milk is a great drink choice at meals to provide much needed protein, vitamins, and minerals.”
Sodas and other sugary drinks aren’t the answer, either.
Unfortunately, 57.1% of children drink a sugary drink at least once a day.
Also, experts believe that too much sugar may make dehydration and other symptoms worse, according to Medical News Today. Symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, less frequent urination, dark-colored urine, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion.
“There are absolutely zero health benefits to drinking soda. Whether regular or diet, caffeinated or caffeine-free, all sodas have negative health effects,” according to Everyday Health.
3. Limit Outdoor Activates
As temperatures rise during these hot summer months, plenty of children spend their free time outdoors through summer camps, sports, and other summer activities.
While this season seems like the perfect time for kids to go outdoors, it’s important to consider when and how long children should be outside.
“On hot days, try to avoid scheduling outdoor activities from late morning to midafternoon, when the sun is the strongest,” according to the CDC.
Limiting outdoor time during peak hot temperatures can help avoid dehydration and sunburn, among several other health risks.
“Preventing heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke and heat exhaustion, is important for people of all ages, but extreme heat poses the greatest risk for people under age 4 and over 65, and anyone who has a pre-existing medical condition or who lives in a home without air conditioning,” the CDC said.
Keep track of upcoming or expected weather through local television news and weather stations, radio, and apps.
4. Protection from the Sun
While having fun in the sun, it’s crucial that children and adults protect themselves.
A step as small as applying sunscreen can help prevent heat-related health problems.
“Unprotected skin can be burned by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes, but can take up to 12 hours for the skin to show the damage, according to the CDC.
Reapplication of sunscreen is also recommended every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.
Other sun protection like hats and sunglasses can help keep everyone cool.
Wearing light or airy clothes that cover your arms and legs and wide brim hat to shade your face, head, ears, and neck can also be great protection against the sun’s strong UV radiation.
“Overexposure to UV radiation can lead to serious health issues, including cancer,” the CDC reports.
Too much exposure to UV radiation can lead to serious health issues, including cancer.
“The two most common types of skin cancer are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Typically, they usually form on the head, face, neck, hands, and arms because these body parts are the most exposed to UV radiation,” according to the CDC.
5. Protection Against Bug Bites
As younger ones participate in summer activities, it’s also important to protect them against insects, like mosquitoes, which are more rampant in the heat.
“Apply repellents only to exposed skin or clothing, as directed on the product label and always follow instructions when applying insect repellent to children,” the CDC recommends.
Other bugs such as ticks, fleas, and flies are common during the summer season and can contribute to health risks including:
- Yellow Fever
- Zika Virus
- Lyme Disease
While some of these illnesses can be prevented by vaccines and medication, others cannot.
It’s important to consider vacation spots and summer activity destinations to protect yourself and your family from bug bites.
Families should also consider the activities they plan to participate in. For instance, the chances of bug bites increase with activities like hiking and camping.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided a list of EPA-registered insect repellents that are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Insect repellent should be applied after sunscreen.
For children, dressing them d in clothing that covers arms and legs and covering strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting can be helpful.
The CDC recommends a few tips when using insect repellent on your child including:
- Always follow label instructions.
- Do not use products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or para-menthane-diol (PMD) on children under 3 years old.
- Do not apply insect repellent to a child’s hands, eyes, mouth, cuts, or irritated skin.
Safety in Your Community
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