Here’s How to Keep Your Kids Safe in the Heat
For Orange County families, summer usually means picnics, outdoor fun and quality vacation time with family, perhaps even a trip to the OC Fair. But in this part of the state, summer is also synonymous with sweltering temperatures. We received a small taste of the heat Mother Nature has in store for us this summer with Santa Ana and Newport Beach’s record setting heat in mid-March. More hot weather is on its way during the summer months, and unfortunately our state’s record drought isn’t making things any easier.
Last year was Orange County’s hottest year ever recorded. And last month, the American Lung Association released a report showing that the drought is taking its toll on California’s air quality. The drought and high temperatures aren’t separate issues. High heat exacerbates drought conditions, and since drought and heat work in-tandem to create health risks, doctors and parents need to tackle these two problems together.
As a parent, the first step you can take to protect your child from these twin problems is to make sure they understand the dangers of high temperatures and bad air quality. Even if your child is the star of their soccer team or the MVP of the recess basketball court, extreme heat can sap their energy and put them at risk of heat stroke. Keep your child safe by ensuring they know the importance of taking breaks, staying hydrated, and not spending all day in the hot sun.
Dealing with poor air quality might be a problem your child isn’t responsible enough to deal with on their own yet. No child wants to stay cooped up inside on a sunny summer day. But that may be the best option on red level air quality days. Bad air hampers even the most well-conditioned athlete’s ability to catch their breath, and prolonged exposure to it can slow children’s lung development. You should definitely let your kids play outside this summer. But it would be wise to plan a few fun indoor activities for those days when air quality is especially bad. It never hurts to check out the daily air quality reports, which can be found here.
The last step I suggest parents take is to be aware of your child’s physical condition. If your son or daughter was active and running around all spring, they will probably acclimate to the heat fairly well. But if your child spent more time playing PlayStation or jamming out to Taylor Swift in their room in recent months, you should encourage your child to take things slowly, and go at their own pace. They’ll be running around at full-speed in no time, but there’s no harm in encouraging them to respect their limits while they’re building up their endurance.
Summer should be a fun time for kids. No school means no homework, and hopefully some well-earned relaxation time. Keep your child stress free this break by shielding them from the worst effects of Orange County summers. And of course – don’t forget the sunscreen!