Simple steps to protect yourself and children from the dangers of the sun and heat
Some simple safety guidelines to follow and you will have a very fun filled, enjoyable summer.
The worst time to be in the sun is between the hours of 10-4pm. The sun is at its peak and the ultraviolet (UV) rays are strongest during this time frame. However, keep in mind you can still get sunburned on cloudy days as well. Apply your sunscreens at least 30 minutes before going into the sun, this will provide the needed time for it to soak into the skin which is what it is required. For sensitive areas of the body, such as nose, cheeks and tops of ears or shoulders, choose a sunscreen or a sunblock that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These are usually the products that stay a visible color on the skin after rubbing them on; they come in some pretty neat colors that kids enjoy too.
If you must be in the sun during these hours use sunscreen, reapply every 2 hours, especially if you will be swimming or sweating a lot. Sun screen that is water resistant still needs reapplied. Also don’t forget those certain spots we all do, ears, feet, behind the legs, those are all spots we tend to forget but they are exposure to the sun as well.
Make sure you have UVA and UVB protection in your sunscreen. THIS IS A BIGGIE!!! If the label contains the words “broad spectrum” it has A and B protection. UVA accelerate the aging effect. UVB rays are primarily causes of sunburns. But UVA and UVB both contribute to sun cancers from over exposure. Be sure to check that label and ensure you and your children are protected from both types.
The SPF factor (sun protection factor), the general rule of thumb here is the higher the number, the better coverage and protection. But again, please make sure you are covered from UVA and UVB. An SPF factor of 50 is great but not so great if it is only protecting against UVA rays.
Waterproof and resistant sunscreens are essential when going swimming or you will be sweating a lot. The difference is water resistant only provides approximately 40 minutes of protection when you are swimming. Waterproof will give you approximately 80 minutes of protection. Re-apply when you get out of the pool.
Check the sun screen for allergic reactions before it is too late. Take a small portion on your skin a day or two prior to going in the sun. You don’t want allergic reactions, itching and burning to run your fun.
Wear a hat or cap with a wide brim to protect your face and ears.
Sun glasses with at least 99% UV protection look for sunglasses for your child with the UV protection disclaimer on the package.
Wear light colored clothing (the darker the color the more sun or UV rays you will draw onto yourself). Lightweight cotton pants light weight long sleeves tops. Select clothes with a tight weave. If you aren’t sure how to do this, hold the article of clothing to the light and see how much light shines through. Lesser light means better coverage.
Find any shade you can possibly can, and remain there as long as possible, even a large umbrella will help filter out the dangerous rays.
However with the heat comes a precaution as well. There are risks of sunburn of course, but even more so, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or even heat strokes.
Encourage kids and adults alike to drink plenty of fluids before going outside, the best choice is water. Kids usually wait until they are thirty to drink, this can be dangerous because by then they have already started to dehydrate. Get them into the habit of drinking one to two glasses of water before going outside. Make them carry a bottle of water with them and sip on it frequently.
Heat cramps are severe brief cramps in the muscles of the legs, arms, or abdomen that may occur after exercise in the extreme heat. How these occur are when a child does not drink enough fluids, the body sweats naturally and through sweating loses salts and fluids. The low levels of salt in the system cause the muscles to cramps. Kids are particularly susceptible when they haven’t been drinking enough fluids. Although they are painful they usually aren’t serious and don’t require special treatment a cool place to rest and fluids so help also gentle massage while rehydrating.
Heat exhaustion is a more severe heat illness again it can occur from not drinking enough fluids and sweating.
Signs of heat exhaustion include but are not limited to:
· Nausea and/or vomiting
· Hyperventilation (rapid breathing)
What to do in the event you feel someone has heat exhaustion.
· Bring them indoors to a cooler area, or even in the shade.
· Loosen and/or remove as much clothing as possible
· Encourage to eat and drink.
· Give a child a bath or shower in cool (not cold) water
· Call your doctor for advice; if the child is too ill to eat or drink they may need intravenous (IV) fluids.
If left untreated heat exhaustion can turn into a heatstroke, which can be fatal.
The most severe form of heat illness, this is a life-threatening medical emergency. The body loses its ability to regulate it owns temperature. The body temperature can soar to 106 degrees or even higher. Thus leading to possible brain damage or even death if not quickly brought under control and back to a near normal body temperature. Prompt medical attention is required.
Factors that increase the risk of a heatstroke include but not limited to: overdressing, extreme physical exertion, inadequate fluid intake.
A Heatstroke is very dangerous and serious. They can happen when a child is left in or accidently becomes trapped in a car on a hot day. One scenario to look at is, when the temperature outside is 93 degrees, the temperature on the inside of a car can reach 125 degrees in just about 20 minutes, quickly raising the body temperature to dangerous levels.
What to do:
Call for emergency help if your child has been outside in the sun for an extensive period of time and shows one or more of these symptoms of a heatstroke.
· Flushed hot, dry skin with no sweating
· Temperature above 103 or 104 degrees or higher
· Severe throbbing headache
· Weakness, dizziness, or confusion
· Decreased responsiveness
· Loss of consciousness
While you are waiting for help:
· Get your child in the shade or indoors where it is cooler
· Undress them and sponge bath them with cool (not cold) water
· Do NOT give fluids.
An Ounce of prevention
To help protection your children from heat illnesses:
Teach them to always drink plenty of water before and after play, do not use caffeinated beverages. Encourage them to do so even if they claim they aren’t thirsty, if they wait until they are thirsty it is usually too late.
Make sure they are wearing light colored to deter the suns rays and loose fitting clothing so the skin can breathe.
Make sure you only participate in heavy activity outdoors before noon and after 6 PM.
Teach kids to come indoors immediately whenever they feel overheated.