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How to keep your children safe during a heatwave

Temperatures are set to climb this week to highs of 35C in some parts of the UK

Emily Atkinson
Thursday 11 August 2022 13:04 BST
Red weather warning: How to cope with extreme heatwave temperatures

Another heatwave is set to sweep the UK and experts have warned it has the potential to be more “lethal” than last month’s record-breaking temperatures.

With the hot, dry weather unlikely to let up any time soon, it has becoming increasingly vital we take steps to keep children safe from the heat.

The Met Office has issued an amber extreme heat warning which will remain in force from Thursday (11 August) to Sunday (14 August), prompting charity Save the Children to publish a list of tips to keep children safe and entertained on hot days.

But there are so many creative ways you can help your children stay safe and cool that should not be overlooked, including regular application of suncream and making DIY ice lollies from fridge essentials.

With temperatures set to climb this week to highs of 35C in some parts of the UK, we have put together a list of all the best tips and tricks to ensure kids can escape the sweltering weather too.

Keeping cool at home

Staying in the house with the curtains drawn and the fans on is a great way to ward off the heat, but being stuck at home all day could make children become anxious or restless.

Save the Children recommends finding ways to have fun and encourage play indoors, such as dressing up, making dens in the living room or painting and drawing.

Playing in a paddling pool is also a good way to keep children cool in the garden, but the charity suggests ensuring the pool is kept under the shade when the weather is hot.

Tiktoker @thesciencebooth shared the idea of creating reusable “water bombs” from sponges. For their full tutorial, see the video below.

Another at-home activity is baking or cooking with your children. One idea, dreamt up by user @imjessiara, is to make frozen yoghurt pops.

Taking just 15 minutes – and requiring just a mould, yoghurts, a syringe and freezer – it would be a fun way to make cooling treats for your kids that they can also get involved with.

In order to ward off any stress your child may be feeling from the hot weather, Save the Children is also urging parents and caregivers to keep calm and answer kids’ questions openly and honestly.

One way to maintain a sense of order and structure is to stick to regular bath and sleep times for your child.

Keeping cool on the move

It is paramount that children are never left unsupervised in parked cars.

Even in a less threatening climate, vehicles can rapidly heat up to dangerous temperatures, and leaving your child inside puts them at risk of severe heat-related illness or death, even if the windows are cracked open, the charity warns.

When driving with your child in a car, Tiktok user @wetrashtalk recommends going one step further by putting a large ice pack in your toddler’s car seat 15 minutes before setting off to ensure they have a comfortable ride.

Another vital tip is to ensure you choose your child’s clothing appropriately. Lightweight, light-coloured, and breathable fabrics such as cotton are your best options.

Boyband Sea Girls conjured up an ingenious trick of popping your socks in the freezer for a short while before you wear them out – a great way for the whole family to beat the heat.

It is also vital to ensure your child is covered top-to-toe in broad-spectrum sunscreen with protection from both UVA and UVB sun rays. This will ensure your child from both the heat and potential sun-related skin damage.

Hats and umbrellas can also be used to limit exposure to harmful rays.

Also make sure to tune in to local news and weather channels for health, safety and weather-related updates, including heat warnings, watches and advisories before setting off.

Drink lots of fluids and get lots of rest

Regardless of your activity level - be it a water fight in the garden or a puzzle in the living room remember to drink plenty of liquids. Fluids should be drunk before, during and after being exposed to extreme heat.

Save the Children also recommends checking your baby’s nappy for concentrated or dark in colour urine, which can indicate dehydration.

Hot meals are also best avoided when the temperatures are especially high.

Strenuous activities should be reduced, eliminated or rescheduled to the coolest time of the day.

Pay special attention to the needs of babies

Save the Children suggests giving your baby a cool bath before bedtime, keep nightwear to a minimum and if your baby kicks and pushes off covers during the night consider putting them in just a nappy with a single well-secured sheet, that will not work loose, cover their face or get entangled during the night.

Your baby will sleep most comfortably at room temperature between 16C and 20C, a nursery thermometer will help you monitor the temperature of the baby’s room.

Learn symptoms and signs of heat-related illnesses

If children show signs of heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps, or severe sunburn, seek medical assistance immediately. Refer to your local health department for a complete list of health conditions caused by extreme heat exposure, and how to remedy them.

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