Childish Fun in the Sun

The lazy days of summer are quickly approaching. Before long, carpools and homework will be a distant memory and we will fill our days with all sorts of outdoor adventures. What we all have a tendency to forget, though, is as soon as the sun feels warn on our skin is the time to pull out the sunblock.  For most of us, that means early spring!

Think about it. How many times have you had the experience of heading out on a spring day only to return with a burn on the back of your neck…arms…legs? What about your kids? They ever return from a nice spring school day a bit toasted? This has happened with all of our families and is 100% avoidable with a bit of planning and having on hand everything we need to avoid the issues the sun can cause on our bodies.

The way to avoid issues on a sunny day is to think about the many ways exposure to the sun can interfere with our fun. At the same time, we have to recognize that the younger our kids are, the more vulnerable they are to all the issues sun exposure can cause.

The big issues we have to ward off when spending time in the sun are:

1. Sun burns

2. Heat illness: dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke

3. Damage to our eyes

So, in a nut shell, we all need:

1. Sunblock SPF 15 and higher applied as often as possible for everyone in our family 6months and older.

2. Hats and Sunglasses for everyone.

3. Keeping infants younger than 6 months out of the direct sun (covering the stroller, hats).

4. Lots and lots and lots of water and fluids.

5. Avoiding the high heat index times if possible. So, when there’s a heat advisory, get inside.

When teaching your kids to apply sunblock, don’t forget to lube up every exposed part of their bodies including For older kids, sunscreen  feet, hands, noses, ears, back of the ears, lips. And, don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours when playing sports or swimming. It’s also important to have your children rest and have some sun-free time complete with lots of fluids. Keep popsicles on hand as well as sports drinks and encourage your child to carry a water bottle filled with either ice water or a sports drink. Most schools and day camps will encourage this during the warm weather.

Sunburns are true burns of the skin and can be serious if large and blistered. The discomfort of simple sunburns can be relieved with cool baths, moisturizers with aloe, and hydrocortisone. Large blistering areas many require more elaborate medical management and you should consult your doctor if large areas of blistering occur.

Bodies can get overheated when exposed to very dangerous temperatures. Any sunburn with headache, chills, fever is a medical emergency and it’s important to call your doctor or take your child to the nearest emergency room. Other warning signs to seek help for include lethargy, not tearing, vomiting and not urinating. Also remember not to leave a child in a car on a summer’s day even for a few minutes – a car can quickly heat up like an oven to temperatures that can and do take lives each summer.

So, as you prepare for the sunny days ahead, stock up your home with these items for everyone in your family:

1. rehydration solutions and/or sports drinks
2. sunblock SPF 15 or higher
3. hats
4. sunglasses
5. stroller coverings or umbrella
6. fans for your house or an air conditioning unit if possible
7. portable water bottles

Here’s to many sun-safe days ahead.

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