Summer’s hot and humid days have officially arrived. Summer is also a great time to keep children active. How do we safely combine active play with hot days? Susan Saliba, associate professor of kinesiology has some tips to keep kids safe and active this summer.
Get outside early and late.
There are several hours in the early mornings and late evenings that offer cooler and shadier opportunities to be outside. Definitely avoid the midday sun.
Take frequent breaks.
The cumulative amount of active play is what matters. There is no obligation to engage our kids in extended periods of active play. And taking breaks in the shade is even better.
Drink plenty of water. But also use water to cool off. Having water available to splash your face or even use as part of an activity can be fun and help cool kids off. There are drinks that have sugar and salt that are helpful when exercising at intense levels, but they often add calories.
Practice in the heat.
Kids who are preparing for sports need to play outside for acclimatization. It is easy to get used to the AC and that can be a hazard when it comes time to play in the heat. Acclimatization builds tolerance for the temperature by sweating earlier and being able to balance electrolytes better.
Recognize heat stress, heat cramps, and heat stroke.
Heat stroke can be fatal but all forms of heat injury can have lasting effects because it affects your ability to deal with heat stress in the future. Rapid cooling is best. Often organizers of events like running races have a baby pool filled with cold water to immerse a person who is overheated. Ice towels and cold towels can be used to help reduce body temperature. If you suspect anyone of heat stroke, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.