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A heat wave is coming to a city near you. Here's how to keep your child safe

Posted June 22

For the first week of the summer, there will be record temperatures throughout much of the West and southwestern United States, affecting more than 30 million Americans with temperatures that could reach close to 121 degrees.

These temperatures have already started to creep into Arizona and California. Four lives have already been lost, and forest fires have already ignited throughout these areas, CBS reported.

You don’t have to live in these areas to be affected, though. According to CBS, United Flight 6186 out of Houston, which was on its way to Phoenix, where temperatures were close to 118 degrees, was sent back to Texas because of “heat-related concerns.”

In fact, according to CNN, the National Weather Service has issued heat warnings and watches to Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

These warnings not only tell people that warmer temperatures are coming, but “also serve as a reminder that pets and young children should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances,” CNN reported.

Keeping your child safe from the sun can be difficult, especially when they’re more than excited about playing outside in the summer heat during their school breaks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, extreme heat can make children sick because of dehydration, heat exhaustion and cramps. Heat stroke isn’t out of the question, either.

Children have also been known to faint, face extreme tiredness and suffer from headaches because of too much sun. It’s possible your child could pick up a fever, too.

And too much heat can create psychological issues. If children are kept indoors for too long because of the extreme weather, they “may become anxious or restless from being kept indoors,” the AAP explained.

Of course, it’s not just young ones who are at risk from the sun. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults and the elderly are also at risk for heat stress, since they don’t usually adjust well to quick changes in temperature. Older adults are also more likely to have long-term medical conditions or specific medications that affect their responses to the heat.

Elderly and older adults can keep themselves safe by drinking cool beverages, resting, and taking cold showers as much as possible. It’s also important that they seek indoor environments with air conditioning to avoid hot temperatures.

Some of these tips also work for children who are in danger from the sun. Here are 10 expert-recommended tips for how to keep your child safe in the sun when temperatures get too warm to weather.

1. Plan ahead

If you’re going to do something as simple as keeping your child inside, plan ahead with some fun activities that will keep the child engaged.

"Plan ahead for entertainment with indoor activities and games, and limit the amount of time spent watching television,” according to the CDC.

2. Keep your child hydrated

The AAP recommends that parents constantly keep their child hydrated with cool drinks, especially water. Parents should have these drinks readily available, even when a child doesn’t ask for it.

3. Cool baths and mists are necessary

You’ll want to make sure your child gets a little mist of cool water now and again, according to the AAP. This can be done with something as simple as spraying the hose on them when they’re outside.

4. Don’t leave them alone in the car

As we all know, cars can get dangerously hot during the summer when the temperatures have skyrocketed and if the air conditioning is off. The AAP suggests keeping your child out of the car.

“Never leave children in a car or other closed motor vehicle,” according to the AAP. “The temperature inside the car can become much higher than the outside temperature, and can rise to temperatures that cause death.”

5. Don’t let the sun shine on a youngster when they’re in a car

This is especially important for babies. According to the Women’s and Children's Health Network, babies can overheat if they’re riding in a car and the sun slants down on them. Keep them covered with the car seat so they can avoid the sun.

6. Avoid the strongest rays

Your child might still want to go outside in the summer, even when you tell them not to. That’s why, according to Kids Health, parents should only let them play outside when the sun’s rays aren’t as strong. If they are outside during the strongest points of the day — like from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — parents should seek areas that have shade coverings so that the child doesn’t spend too much time under the sun’s glow.

7. Sunscreen. Always sunscreen.

Kids Health also recommends that parents use sunscreen on their children to keep them from overheating.

“If kids are in the sun during this time, be sure to apply and reapply protective sunscreen — even if they're just playing in the backyard. Most sun damage occurs as a result of incidental exposure during day-to-day activities, not from being at the beach,” according to KidsHealth.

8. Look out for the medications

As I mentioned earlier about the elderly and medication, parents should also keep an eye on their youngsters' medications, since some can “increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun, so make sure to ask your doctor whether your children may be at risk,” according to Parents magazine. Whenever in doubt, parents should talk to their children’s pediatrician about medications.

9. Cover up

Sunscreen works on some levels, but clothing can also keep your child from getting too much sun. Parents magazine suggests putting your child into light, long-sleeve clothes, and for you to embrace sunglasses to avoid any issues with the eyes.

“And don't forget the accessories: sunglasses with UV protection to guard against burned corneas, and hats to prevent sunburned scalps and faces,” according to Parents magazine. “Protective clothing, hats with brims, and sunglasses are just as important for babies. At the beach, bring along a large umbrella.”

10. Be a good role model

All of these tips can also apply to how an adult stays safe from the sun, too. If parents follow these guidelines, they’ll also be showing their child what it looks like to stay safe from extreme heat.

“If your child sees you following sun-safety rules, he'll take them for granted and follow suit,” according to Parents magazine. “Skin protection is important for every member of the family, so team up with your children to stay protected when venturing out in the sun.”

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

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