Summer is the time to turn off the television, get outside and have some great family fun. And with little ones in tow, you’ll want to make sure you’re enjoying the outdoors in the safest way possible. No matter what type of family experience you’re planning, make sure to remember a few important safety tips.

Beat the heat: Whether you’re spending a day at the beach, on a nature trail, or waiting in line at Disneyland, you’re going to be getting plenty of sunshine. Make sure your child is not overexposed to heat by the sun. If s/he does get overheated, two things may happen:

  1. Heat Exhaustion: Sweating is a gift; the body’s natural cooling system. When the body sweats, it releases water and salt through pores in the skin. This cools the body down, but if those salt and fluids are not replaced, heat exhaustion will occur.
  1.  Heatstroke- The body fails to sweat, which causes dangerous overheating.

How to Avoid Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke:

Drink, drink, and drink some more: Make sure the whole family gets plenty of water or fruit juice. Sports drinks help the body replace the salt it needs to prevent dehydration.

Shade: Make sure to keep your family shaded by wearing hats and lightweight clothing, and make sure the baby stroller’s shade or umbrella is fully opened. Try to keep the stroller in the shade as much as possible so that it doesn’t heat up.

Sunscreen: One of the major risk factors of Melanoma skin cancer is sunburn, so keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure to apply sunscreen to the whole family, ideally with 15% SPF or higher, and preferably one that is specially made for babies and children.
  • 15% SPF sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours. Make sure to put it on any area not covered by clothing; face, front and back of neck, arms, and legs.
  • Make sure you always have sunscreen handy; purchase an extra pocket -sized sunscreen and keep it with you in your purse all summer long. You might want to keep it in a Ziploc bag, just in case of leaks.

Never leave a child in the car: Caring parents who don’t want to disturb a sleeping child may think about leaving the baby for “just a couple of minutes” in the car. This is a very bad idea. Car windows create a greenhouse effect and heat up extremely quickly.  On a 90 degree day, in just ten minutes, a parked car can reach a heat that is deadly for the child waiting inside. On an 80-degree day, 15 minutes is fatal. A child’s body temperature heats up three times faster than an adult’s. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, PVH (pediatric vehicular heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia) becomes fatal when body temperature reaches 107 degrees, which can happen during just a few minutes on a hot day.

Although PVH is a danger all year long, now is a most important time to get into the habit of “look before you lock”. Parents have reported being tired and forgetting their child in the backseat. These incidents have been fatal.

It’s always important to be vigilant, and to remind your friends as well. Armed with these tips, you’re ready for a summer that is both fun and safe!

~Chaya Glatt, Special Instructor