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Handling the Heat

by Kids on Track (follow)
Ariella Lew; BSC Paediatric Nurse
Category (34)      Category (eg Sleeping, Eating, Play, Travel) (29)     
The weather in Melbourne has certainly heated up in the last couple of days and with it, parents have been asking about how to keep their kids cool and safe in the increasing heat. Other parents have asked about exotic holidays coming up in hot climates. Here is Kids on Track's quick reference guide

SUN EXPOSURE - The sun is a source of Vitamin D and therefore needed by everyone in order that their bodies can absorb calcium. Most of our lifetime exposure occurs before age 18 which is why we need to be so aware that our children need some sun but safely. Babies under the age of 6 months are an exception as they do not produce melanin, the pigment in our bodies that allows us to tan and therefore babies are susceptible to burn.

SUN PROTECTION - An effective sun hat, whilst not the prettiest always can be vital to prevent burning. Any hat should cover the whole skull and ideally have a wide brim to cover parts of the neck and shoulders as well. Light colours reflect heat and so not only are a good choice for sun hats but for clothes as well. These should be as cool as possible whilst covering up bodies from direct contact with the sun. Any trips in the car should be at the coolest time of the day and always with air conditiong or windows open. Sunshades on car windows are also a good idea to protect children of any age.

SUNSCREEN - In order for this to be effective, it needs to be applied approximately 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and reapplied every 2 hours in addition to after swimming even if it is water resistant. It is reccommended that a factor of 30 is used on anyone below the age of 18. It is vital that the sunscreen you are using contains UV protection which may not be found in the self tan sunscreen favoured by many teens / preteens - please ask your kids to check!!! SPF 30 lip balm is also recommended. Don't forget to ensure ALL areas of the body that may come into contact with the sun are covered including ears, fingers, toes, and back of necks.

STAYING HYDRATED: This can be a tremendous challenge but remains vitally important even if you are staying inside or in the shade. Recommendations for children's water intake generally ranges from 1 litre for a one year old; 1.5 litres for a 10 year old and as much as 2 litres for teenagers. In the heat this measurement rises and although water is the best hydrated, there are other things to help your kids meet their needs. Watermelon and cucumber are 2 examples of foods with high water content. If your children aren't keen on straight water you can also try making ice cubes out of fresh fruit to add to water; making icy poles which are 50 - 50 water and juice or allowing them to drink diluted juice or cordial.

Wishing you all a safe summer!

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