By Teresa Schaeffer
Summer is finally here which means it is time to get outside, explore the great outdoors and recharge our solar batteries. Sunlight is vital to healthy growth in children. It helps the body produce vitamin D which is necessary to absorb minerals essential to growth, development, and a healthy immune system. It helps the body take in calcium from the foods we eat and reduces the risk of infectious disease by turning on key peptides in your immune system that trigger a stronger immune response.
Being outdoors and spending time in the sun is an important part of a healthy childhood. But before you hit the local playground or send the kids outside to play, take a few minutes to consider summer’s unique safety challenges. The days are longer, hotter, more humid and infants and children are not able to regulate their body temperature as well as adults do. Before you send the kids out to play in the sun, learn how to protect your child against the dangers of heat and dehydration.
Kids are at higher risk of heat related illnesses because they have a larger surface area in comparison to their total weight. They also tend to be less aware of the risks the heat brings when they are playing and having fun. Our bodies create a lot of heat and as the temperature rises, our body produces sweat to stay cool. When your body can not cool itself, your temperature rises, and you can become seriously ill. In very hot and humid weather, children can quickly lose fluids through sweating which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration and hot temperatures can cause their natural cooling system to break down and allow the heat in the body to build to dangerous levels. This can cause heat related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Prevention of dehydration and heat related illnesses is very important when temperatures rise. When spending time outdoors: