Joanna Cohen, MD, an attending in the emergency department (ED) at Children’s National, whose primary research interest includes bedside ultrasonography in the ED wrote for the Rise and Shine Blog that during the summer months, temperatures rise, and it can be more difficult to stay cool. Children and babies are more sensitive to heat, so it is important to keep them cool and comfortable. Here are some tips for keeping cool on a hot day:
- Limit time outdoors: Limit the amount of time spent outside between 10 am and 4 pm when the temperature is the hottest.
- Drink water: Make sure your child is drinking plenty of water, even if he or she is not thirsty. Stay away from sugary drinks or drinks with caffeine to avoid dehydration. Replenishing electrolytes such as salt, potassium, and calcium are necessary if your child has been exercising or exposed to heat for a long period of time. For younger children, Pedialyte® is recommended for rehydration with electrolyte replacement.
- Eat light foods: Prepare foods that don’t require cooking to avoid turning on the oven and creating more heat. Some great foods that don’t require cooking are salads, fruits, and vegetables, which are all great sources of nutrition. Popsicles and frozen fruit are also a delicious way to cool down.
- Clothing: Dress your child in light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Light clothing helps reflect sunlight and keep your child cooler. If you and your family plan to be in the sun for a long period of time, consider buying clothing designed to block UV rays. A hat with a big brim or sunglasses also will keep your child cool and help protect his or her eyes from the sun.
- Footwear that breathes: Wearing footwear that breathes is a great way to help your child cool down. Tennis shoes with cotton socks can be great for certain outdoor actives, while sandals with straps also can work well.
- Get in the water: Turn on the sprinklers or spend time at a local pool to cool off and have some fun. The water will help cool off kids; just be careful of the sun. Make sure to reapply an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen every two hours to avoid sunburn. Sunscreen is not recommended for children under 6 months of age. Babies have a higher surface area to body ratio, so may have a higher exposure to chemicals in sunscreen. Removable mesh screens for car windows, lightweight clothes that cover their arms and legs, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses are great ways to protect your infant from the sun.
- Watch the pavement: Pavement or blacktop heats up quickly and can burn your child’s skin. Avoid activities on or around pavement to prevent a hot surface-related injury and make sure your child is always wearing appropriate footwear.
- Use fans: If air conditioning is not available, use fans to help circulate the air. At night, make sure there is room for the air to circulate around your child and make sure the child can not touch the blades or electrocute themselves. If you do have air conditioning, make sure it doesn’t get too cold for babies. The best room temperature is between 65 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit.