Chatting to a girlfriend today (in the shade) while examining our latest freckles and speckles we laughed about how her mother used to park her in the garden in her pram in the midday sunshine so she would tan. For those not born in the 1960s or '70s this might seem like a quaint, if not downright dangerous practice but it was typical of that era of leathery skin and laissez-faire parenting.
Fortunately times change and there is much more awareness of the dangers of excessive sun exposure. Here are our top tips to keep children protected and safe in the summer sun:
- Shower or bathe briefly in cool water twice a day to help regulate body temperature.
- Stay out of the sun and play in the shade as much as possible and always during the hottest hours of the day (12-4pm).
- Dress children in loose, light coloured clothing in natural fibres.
- Sprinkle clothes and skin with water to stay cool.
- A wide brimmed hat will protect the neck and shoulders.
- Ensure they keep hydrated by drinking little and often. Water is best. Signs of dehydration are; dizziness and feeling lightheaded, dry mouth, lips and eyes, tiredness, peeing a small amount of dark urine, peeing 4 times or less a day.
- Keep a couple of wet flannels in the fridge to use as a cold compress on the neck and armpits.
- If they are going to be outdoors apply a good quality sunscreen to any exposed skin.
Enjoy the sunshine but don't underestimate the dangers and watch out for signs of heat exhaustion, children and babies are more vulnerable than adults.
Children suffering heat exhaustion can become sleepy or floppy. Other signs are a headache, dizziness and confusion, loss of appetite and feeling sick, excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin, cramps in the arms, legs and stomach, fast breathing or pulse, a high temperature of 38C or above and excessive thirst.
If your child has any of these symptoms lie them down in a shaded place and cool their skin with a water spray or damp sponge and fan them. If they don’t feel better after 30 minutes or symptoms include a temperature over 40C, not sweating, feeling confused or losing consciousness seek urgent medical help, they could be suffering from heatstroke.