We all have wonderful memories of our summer vacations as children. The month-long break allows us to grow as individuals outside of the classroom, gain new skills, and pursue new interests. We can spend our time off from school exploring the outdoors, playing with our neighborhood friends, and making new friends. However, with the rise in temperature and the harsh weather brought on by climate change, going outside our house is no longer as delightful as it once was. The scorching heat takes a toll on our physical health. Long-term exposure to UV rays can cause serious illness. According to WHO, there are 9 serious health outcomes that can result from excess UV exposure including different types of cancers, skin photoaging, cortical cataracts, cold sores and so on. Extremely high temperatures, dry weather, and heat waves have grown increasingly common in recent years. It is especially concerning when it comes to our children.

Playing and exercising outside has a positive impact on our kid’s mental and physical health. It plays a crucial role during their development stage. Outdoor activities, being one with nature is highly stimulating and it keeps our children active. This type of living mould them as people and helps them progress in life. As parents we have to learn to navigate the extreme heat, find ways to keep our children active and carefully limit and monitor their time in the heat. High temperature can cause both physical and mental stress. Dehydration, heat stroke, heat cramps, heat exhaustion are all possible side effects of extreme heat.

Listed below are some of the signs and symptoms that you need to look out for in your child to detect if they are in some kind of distress triggered by the extreme heat :
1) Vomiting
2) Nausea
3) Extreme tiredness
4) intense thirst
5) Headache
6) Muscle ache and spasm

When one or more of these symptoms appear and persist in your child, it is strongly advised that you consult a child specialist or a pediatrician. It’s also a good idea to talk to your family doctor or your child’s doctor about what precautions you can take this summer to keep your child safe from the treacherous weather.

In this blog, let us look at some simple steps we can take to protect our kids from extreme heat.

1] Hydration is the key : One of the simplest ways to take care of oneself and our loved ones during extreme heat is by staying adequately hydrated. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids from water, electrolytes to fresh juice. Always carry a bottle of water with you when outdoors and ask your child to sip on it at regular intervals. In place of water, babies who are still breastfeeding or are receiving formula should be given an extra portion in order to keep them hydrated.

2]Take enough rest : A hot summer day can make one feel extremely tired. This exhaustion can make your child feel irritable. Hence, it is important that they cool off from time to time, drink water and take periodical naps to keep emotional stress at bay.

3]Wear light fabrics : Alongwith hydration and proper rest we also need to keep in mind that we dress our munchkins in light and comfortable fabrics. The simple logic being – light-colored clothing reflects light and dark-colored clothing absorbs light. Cotton and loose fitted clothes should be our go to while we dress our kids this summer. Synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, satin, lycra are non-absorbent fabrics and should be avoided during extreme heat.

4]Limit outdoor activities : Early mornings in the summer can be pleasant. The temperature rises and the weather becomes harsher as the day progresses, especially around noon. Limiting your child’s activities inside the house can lead to boredom and sluggishness. So how should we proceed? Simply, plan your activities according to the temperature at different parts of the day.
Take your kid for cycling early in the morning, when there is adequate shade for breaks or go for brisk walking in the nearby park before the sun reaches its peak. Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise that can also help you with cooling down. The indoor pools and the ones that are covered can be used at any time of the day.

5]No unattended children in cars : One thing to be absolutely careful of is to never leave your child unattended in a vehicle. This is extremely dangerous and is a risk not worth taking. The inside of the car can heat up very quickly. The brewing heat can create panic-like situations for your child and bring about significant dangers like heat stroke. There are laws prohibiting and penalizing parents who leave their children unattended in their vehicle in countries such as the United States of America.

6]Indulge in indoor activities : To keep your child active you can together indulge in indoor activities like painting, craftwork or play interesting board games and avoid going outside in the extreme heat altogether. This way you can keep your child engaged and can help them pick new skills in the comfort of their own house.

With the growing concerns about global warming and how it is going to impact the generations to come it is important that we pass on this knowledge and good practices onto our kids. However, alongwith the preventative measures we also need to introduce the concepts of climate change, eco-friendly living among our children. For their future and the future of our planet it is important that we make our kids ecologically conscious. Help them imbibe a lifestyle that can help us restore the sanctity of Mother Earth. We can adapt to the extreme heat and the rising sea levels, however that is not the long term solution. We need to recognise the root of these problems and act accordingly. Our kids can be our savior. They can help us reverse the damage done by humanity on this planet which has set the stage of such harsh climate.

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