America’s favorite summer outdoor activities include walking, hiking and going to the beach. And now that most Americans are comfortable returning to the parks this summer, we can expect these public spaces to be filled with kids and adults of all ages.
To ensure your child and their friends stay safe in the summer heat, here are six tips to follow.
1. Seek Shade
When you first arrive at the park, choose a spot that’s in the shade. Parks fill up fast, so you may have to be creative, such as by sitting on the ground under a large tree. To be on the safe side, you can also provide your own shade with an umbrella. However, the hope is that you can find a commercial playground with large shade structures to keep you and your children cooler and out of the sun for long periods of time. At least taking a break to cool down and get out of the harmful hot UV rays.
2. Drink Enough Water
Don’t rely on public water fountains to keep you hydrated. Pack along plenty of water and encourage your kids to take breaks to hydrate. On hot days, kids should be drinking 50% more water than usual to decrease the risk of dehydration. For added fun, skip the fruit juices and add fresh fruit to your child’s water.
3. Apply Sunscreen
No matter how well shaded a playground is, be sure to apply sunscreen to your children. It takes just 15 minutes for a sunburn to occur, but you may not notice symptoms until several hours later. Apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply every three hours (sooner if your child is in the water).
4. Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion
If you’re spending an extended day at the playground because it has water features or interactive elements, it’s important to know and recognize the signs of heat exhaustion. These cases increase significantly in June, July and August. In children, the symptoms usually start off with cramps and headaches but can quickly increase.
5. Keep Watch Near Water
Splash pads are a safe alternative to swimming pools. Because there is no standing water, there is little risk of drowning. However, this doesn’t mean you should be hands off. Many children are still injured each year at splash pads from slips and falls, particularly when the ground is concrete. It’s also recommended not to let kids drink from the water nozzles, as untreated water can lead to illness.
6. Practice Smart Transportation
Whether you’re riding bikes or scooters to the playground, make sure your child has a helmet that fits properly. Make sure to have your children remove their helmets before getting on the playground equipment. If you’ll be driving, check the car before getting out of the vehicle. Each year, nearly 40 kids die in hot cars. Going to the playground can be chaotic - a car full of kids, lunches to pack, sunscreen to apply, etc. - so this is an easy mistake to make.
The summer is finally here and families are more appreciative of being outdoors with friends, family and neighbors than ever before! Be sure to practice these six tips to keep your child safe on the playground during the summer months.