5 ways to avoid child injuries in the summer sun
Summertime can be a dangerous time for children, and one of the biggest dangers is the sun itself. Long summer days are every child’s dream – but the heat and the scorching UV rays lead to thousands of child injuries every year – in the UK alone. Overseas, especially in tropical climates, these risks can have deadly consequences.
Children often want to spend most of their summer holidays playing outside (weather permitting, of course!). Whether at home or on holiday abroad, being outside in beautiful summer weather is always a wonderful experience.
It is important to remember, however, that children are especially susceptible to sunburn and other sun related conditions. A child’s skin is thinner than an adult’s which is why it is far more sensitive: as little as 10 minutes in the sun without protection can cause a child to suffer from sunburn. Children who have fair skin or hair are particularly at risk of sunburn, which if serious enough can cause serious damage to the skin in later life. The sun’s UV rays are at their most damaging between June and September – even if it is a cloudy day, the UV rays can still cause sunburn and skin damage to your child.
During the summer months it is especially important to follow these tips to guarantee your child’s safety in the sun:
1) Sun cream: millions of people every year suffer from sunburn because they don’t wear the appropriate protection. There are many different kinds of sun cream available these days, with many brands offering sun cream specifically targeted for children. It is important to buy as high a factor sun cream as possible: for children, it should be at least SPF 50 or 60.
Sun cream should be applied 15-30 minutes before going outside, to give the skin a chance to absorb it. Remember to re-apply sun cream regularly throughout the day: approximately once every hour, and more if your child has been playing in a swimming pool or in the sea, as the sun cream will have washed off.
2) Aftersun: aftersun can be greatly soothing on burnt skin. It should also be used to hydrate any skin that’s been exposed to the heat for more than 20 minutes. On young skin this is even more important, as children’s skin burns easily and needs lots of help to rehydrate. Again, there are many child-friendly options available in shops and chemists.
3) Carry a bottle of water at all times: Many people remember sun cream, but forget to also keep their children hydrated from the ‘inside out’. Drinking water regularly (at least every hour) is the best way to achieve this. Ice lollies are also a great way to stay hydrated!
4) Cover Up: It is extremely important to make sure your children are well covered from the sun, wherever they are. This is particularly important between 11am and 3pm, when the sun’s heat is at its strongest. Playing in the sun is great fun, but remember to take regular breaks in the shade to cool down. With young children, make sure that they are wearing a sun hat that covers their face at all times, and also sunglasses. Wearing a big T-shirt over a swimming costume is also a great way to cover up, particularly in the swimming pool.
For babies and toddlers, it is even more important that they are covered up and kept in the shade as much as possible. Always place pushchairs in the shade and have a sun canopy to protect your baby’s head from the sun.
5)Emergency Hydration Salts: If you are going away for the summer or if you know that you will be in the sun for a long period of time, then it is vital to carry a re-hydration kit with you. Drinking re-hydration salts will help to restore your child to a safe level of hydration. You should also carry headache tablets, emergency supplies of water and have the number of a local pharmacy in case you need to seek advice.
When in doubt, remember the Australian saying: Slip, slop, slap! Slip on a T-shirt, slop on the sun cream and slap on a hat, for optimal protection from the sun.