Keeping children safe in the summer sun
Last month, Britain experienced a heatwave which saw temperatures soar to 34.5 °C in some parts of the country. The Met Office said that we experienced the hottest day in June for 40 years, and it was the first time the mercury hit 30°C or over on five consecutive days in June since 1995!
With school holidays just around the corner and (hopefully) more beautiful summer weather in store, we thought we’d go through the safety and wellness issues that need to be considered when temperatures start climbing.
- Limiting sun exposure
The sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm, so it’s best to avoid going out for extended periods of time during these peak hours. If children are playing outdoors when it’s hot, there should be plenty of shaded areas where they can rest and cool down.
- Gearing up to go in the sun
Clothing is an effective line of defence against the sun’s harmful rays, and it can protect our skin by absorbing or blocking radiation. The more surface area clothing covers, the more effectively it can do this.
The head and neck area can be particularly vulnerable to sun exposure, so a wide-brimmed hat (3 inches or greater, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation) or one with a long flap at the back is ideal for protecting children’s skin.
- Lathering up with lotion
Applying sunscreen is another important measure to avoid the risk of sunburn. The product should protect against the sun’s UVA (short wave) and UVB (long wave) rays. Most brands of children’s sun cream are hypoallergenic but it’s worth checking that the brand you use is, as it can help reduce skin irritation.
If children are moving in and out of paddling pools or running around and sweating, it’s also important to reapply the lotion on a regular basis.
- Safe water play
Young children can drown in less than 2 inches (6 centimetres) of water and the Fire Brigade website states that most drownings occur between the months of May and August. So, whilst engaging in water play is a great way to cool children down, it’s important to remain vigilant and supervise them at all times.
Last month, our guest blogger Tamsin Grimmer gave us lots of fantastic ideas for fun water play.
- Tackling allergies
Allergic rhinitis, more commonly known as hay fever, tends to be most prevalent in spring, but it can persist well into summer. Hay fever occurs when the body reacts to allergens in the atmosphere, such as pollen spores. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include runny noses, watery or itchy eyes and sneezing. There should be an agreement with parents as to what course of action will be taken to manage their child’s allergies.
Another possible danger to look out for is that presented by stinging insects. Most times, stings are painful but harmless but in some cases children can have a severe reaction which leads to anaphylactic shock. It’s worth updating your records with parents over the summer so staff know which children are at risk.
- Staying hydrated
When the temperature starts rising, it’s more important than ever for everyone to stay hydrated. Rather than just drinking water, there are plenty of fruit and vegetables with high water content which can be added to mealtimes to keep children hydrated in the hotter weather. These foods can be kept in the fridge or freezer to keep them cool before being consumed:
- Water melon
- Grapes (cut lengthwise)
With sun-filled days approaching, there is clearly lots to consider when keeping children happy, healthy and safe at your setting. Taking some of the steps highlighted above will help lessen some of the risks associated with summer, and help everyone have a much more enjoyable time whilst making the most of the sunshine.
What do you do to keep children at your setting cool during hot days? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions.