Summer is rapidly approaching! We’ve even caught a glimpse of it with a few teasing summer-weather days. While we may not be ready to permanently put away the winter coats, now would be a good time to start planning for that wonderful season of fun in the sun!
Outdoor play has obvious benefits, such as increased levels of activity and heart rate, exposure to necessary vitamin D and an overall boost in mood. Being with other children in a less structured environment, without the stresses of school and the intensity of a rigid schedule, engenders strong relationships and can provide great opportunity for personal growth and development. Children are often afforded many opportunities during the summer that introduce new experiences and foster creativity.
The many benefits of summer, and the nice weather that accompanies the season, also come with some potential disadvantages. At Camp 613, we try to prepare and plan for the adventures, as well as the misadventures. As parents, preparing for these possible mishaps will allow us to breathe easier as we send our children out to play. The warmer weather and sunnier days mean hydration is crucial. Research has shown that children should drink between five and eight glasses a day, with variations and allowances for different levels of activity and fluctuations in temperature. Make sure to send your kids out with plenty of water, the optimal beverage, and ensure they can obtain more water as needed in order to avoid dehydration. Early signs and symptoms of dehydration can include increased thirst, lethargy or increased sleepiness, decreased urination or darker urine, headache and dizziness. Being aware of the signs can be helpful in avoiding this complication.
Water is crucial to protect against the heat, and sunscreen is essential in protecting against the sun’s harmful rays. While some sunshine is healthy, too much can be damaging. The CDC reports that UV rays from the sun can cause damage in as little as 15 minutes. Sunscreen, with an SPF of at least 30 according to the American Academy of Dermatology, should be applied in generous amounts and should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or periods of copious sweating.
Children tend to be more active when the weather gets nicer, which can also lend itself to increased injury. It’s important to discuss safety with children, such as wearing helmets and other protective gear when appropriate. Band-aids and antibiotic ointments and sprays can be our greatest allies in this endeavor to keep our children safe and healthy. Kids fall and sometimes they bleed. The ability to clean them up, patch them up and get them back up and out is a parent’s superpower, if we plan well enough. (And let’s be honest, sometimes kids fall, don’t bleed and still need that bandage to help them get back up and out.)
Ice packs are also a great item to have on hand when children are more active. Acute injuries often cause swelling and pain. Applying ice to the area can help decrease the pain and minimize the swelling. If the injured area involves the head, be on the lookout for signs of dizziness, confusion, lethargy or nausea/vomiting as it may indicate a more serious injury and would warrant a visit to the doctor.
While summer is generally a more relaxed season, when children and their parents can unwind and slow down a little, a little planning can go a long way in creating the right atmosphere that is safe and fun. A summer safety survival kit, which would include essential items for a safe and healthy outing, can be created and taken with you wherever you go. Creating a kit with water, sunscreen, band-aids, ice packs and any other things specific to your own family’s needs, is a great way to be prepared, to set your mind at ease and to enjoy summer with all it has to offer.
By Ayelet Mermelstein, RN and Yael Rosman, RN
Ayelet Mermelstein and Yael Rosman are the dynamic duo who make up Camp 613’s medical team. Individually and as a team, they help make sure that all the campers and staff are healthy and get an extra dose of TLC when needed.