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The summer months are fast approaching and with school out of session, youth sports leagues are a great way to keep your child active during the break. Playing sports in the summer sunshine can be tons of fun, but it can also be dangerous. High temperatures and sunny skies can lead to dehydration, sunburns and heat exhaustion. Follow these tips to make sure that you and your child have a safe and stress-free game day:
With the temperatures rising, it is crucial that you ensure your child hydrates properly before, during and after their games and practices. It takes approximately 20 minutes for the water that you drink to properly hydrate your body, so make sure that your child has a glass of water prior to heading out to the field. An easy way to ensure your child drinks the right amount of water before playing outside is to give them one of the miniature 8 ounce water bottles sold at most major grocery stores. Your child should also regularly hydrate the entire time they are playing, consuming roughly 5 ounces of water for every 15 to 20 minutes they’re outside. Fruits like apples, watermelon and oranges are a great source of hydration in addition to being a tasty treat. After the game your child should continue to hydrate, drinking water for up to two hours after playing sports.
Your child is going to be spending at least 60 minutes outside playing team sports, which means you need to make sure their skin is well protected. Choosing the right kind of sunscreen and applying it at appropriate intervals will help to prevent your child from getting a painful sunburn and protect their skin from the sun’s harmful rays. When selecting sunscreen, be sure to choose a water-resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15. To allow the skin to fully absorb the sunscreen, you should apply the product 30 minutes before your child goes outside. Your sunscreen’s label should indicate how frequently you need to reapply your child’s sunscreen; if your child is working up a sweat on the field then they will need the sunscreen to be reapplied more frequently. Adding a pair of sunglasses that offer UVA and UVB protection can help to add an extra layer of protection for the delicate skin around your child’s eyes, which can be more difficult to apply sunscreen to.
Being well educated about the signs and symptoms of dehydration and heat exhaustion can help your child know when they need to take a break or get an adult. Teach your child what to look out for, and make sure they know it’s okay to stop playing if they aren’t feeling well. If your child has nausea, leg cramps, a red face or pale clammy skin they may be suffering from heat stress. If your child appears to be suffering from heat stress, immediately apply a cool towel to the skin and have them begin hydrating. If symptoms are severe, you may want to consult your pediatrician.
Having a plan in place to make sure your child is well hydrated, well protected and well informed will help you stay cool when it’s hot. Taking a few moments to drink water, apply sunscreen and talk to your child about the signs and symptoms of heat stress can make a big difference in your child’s summer sports experience.