Children love to play outside on beautiful, sunny days – whether they’re riding bikes, playing on the swing set, or throwing around a ball. Even in the dog days of summer – where stepping outside seems like running into a wall of heat – your children beg you to play outside with their friends. Except for the occasional bouts of dehydration, there’s no reason why you should discourage them from exhausting their energy outside, right?
Well, actually, there are many reasons. Chief among them being prolonged sun exposure, which could lead to sunburns,heat exhaustion and even skin cancer. Thankfully, there are ways to prevent these illnesses.
Remind your child to:
- Wear SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Especially if your child is fair-haired with blue, green, or hazel eyes, they should wear sunscreen even if they will only be outside for a few hours. There are several factors to consider when choosing sunscreen, including whether it was made for children, has UVA and/or UVB protection, and is water resistant.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours. We know your child hates that greasy, slimy feeling, but you should reapply their sunscreen at least every two hours. Apply it more frequently if they have been swimming or running through the sprinklers – or if they actually like it!
- Go indoors from 10 to 4. (It even rhymes!) The sun is strongest from 10AM to 4PM, but if your child doesn’t want to come in yet, at least tell them to seek a shady spot. This applies to every day, even when there are clouds overhead.
- Wear a hat. We all know that some heads were just not designed for hats, but wearing a hat is the best protection for your child’s face. You should also have them wear sunglasses and loose-fitting clothing to protect their skin.
- Drink plenty of water. Have your child take frequent water breaks – especially if they’re playing sports or participating in other rigorous physical activities. Don’t let them wait until they are thirsty; they should be drinking something (preferably water – not soda or fruit juice, and especially not alcohol) every 15 to 20 minutes.