Taking Care of Kids During Heatwave Days
Though summer can mean lots of fun outdoor activities for the family, it also can mean record temperatures that produce intense heat. These heatwave days can be problematic for parents whose kids don’t want to be cooped up and feeling bored inside while the sun is shining, even though there are definite health risks when children are exposed to excessive heat. Thankfully, there are many ways to still have fun and stay safe when taking care of kids during heatwave days!
Physical Heatwave Risks
Though high temperatures pose risks for everyone, they can affect the health of children in many ways. In fact, experts warn that heat indexes over ninety degrees Fahrenheit can cause significant sickness in children, resulting in dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke. These conditions can come on quickly and often require immediate treatment. Some symptoms to look for in your child are:
- Extreme thirst
- Intense fatigue
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Rapid breathing
- Feeling faint
- Lack of urine
- Muscle aches and/or spasms
If your child exhibits any of these symptoms or seems even slightly ill due to high temperatures, it’s essential to get them to their pediatrician as soon as possible. There are ways to reduce the risk of these health complications during heatwave days, such as staying well-hydrated, finding air-conditioned areas, dressing lightly, getting extra rest, and cooling off with water mist or swimming. Proper use of sunscreen and protective covering can also limit the effects of sun exposure.
Psychological Heatwave Risks
Of course, playing outdoors is healthy for children’s physical and psychological well-being when the weather conditions are safe. Therefore, it’s important for parents to keep in mind their child’s mental health as well as physical wellness during heatwave days. Children can become anxious and/or restless when kept indoors during the summer, especially if their expectations are to enjoy outdoor activities.
Parents can protect their children’s mental and emotional health by preparing for heatwave days with fun and engaging activities and games. This will help to keep boredom at bay and limit the amount of screen time. It’s understandable that parents would turn to screen time and digital media as part of taking care of their children during heatwave days. Kids often remain engaged with technology and digital screens for hours at a stretch, which can help pass the time peacefully and quietly if summer outdoor activities are limited. However, according to most experts, this screen time may come at a high price in terms of a child’s brain development, sleep habits, learning capabilities, and language acquisition.
Limited screen time and digital media can be healthy and fun for children. However, it’s clear that excessive time spent engaging with computers, smartphones, tablets, etc., can inhibit a child’s natural desire to explore and learn by limiting their focus. Heavy participation in electronic activities can interfere with the brain’s ability to reason and think critically, whereas non-electronic activities such as playing with toys and exploring outdoors can enhance imagination, creativity, and developing appropriate linguistic and social skills.
So, if intense temperatures make it unsafe for children to play outside and indoor screen time is not in their best interest, how can parents effectively take care of their kids during heatwave days without putting their own sanity at risk?
Fun and Engaging Heatwave Activities
With a little creative thinking and a bit of planning, parents can offer their children fun and engaging activities to keep away the boredom and blues of heatwave days without having to turn to digital screens. Here are four fantastic ideas for taking care of kids when the temperatures are too high:
- Games: playing traditional (non-digital) games enhances healthy development in children as they learn physical, social, and cognitive skills. During heatwave days, games can be an excellent outlet for fun and learning. In addition, many traditional games are inclusive so that kids of all ages, including parents, can play. This fosters cooperation, critical thinking, and empathy, in addition to providing engagement and enjoyment. Even if you don’t have a selection of traditional board games at home, there are many games that don’t require gameboards and pieces such as “freeze dance,” “scavenger hunt,” and “hangman.”
- Puzzles: puzzles are an excellent activity for young children on days that are too hot to be out. Kids can solve puzzles for independent play or cooperate with family members. Puzzles are inherently fun, and they teach patience, strategy, and complex thinking. Completing a puzzle also provides children with a sense of mastery and reward.
- Books: for children who are old enough to read, books can be a great activity for exploring the world without going out into the summer heat. Reading is perhaps the best method for children to develop their imagination, focus, language acquisition, and understanding of the world. Even non-reading children can enjoy books by looking at the pictures and “making up” stories to match. If you don’t have many books to offer in your home, taking a weekly trip to the library during the summer is an excellent outing—even during a heatwave.
- Activity kits: being prepared for heatwave days by having activity kits on hand is a terrific way to keep kids engaged and entertained during severe heat. These kits often contain mazes, word searches, dot-to-dot puzzles, and art projects to keep children occupied and allow them to explore their imagination and artistic expression.
Ultimately, it takes very little planning and creativity to come up with activities for heatwave days to keep children feeling stimulated and valued. These indoor activities will not only provide fun when it’s too hot to play outside, but they will also encourage learning and imagination—without any screen time at all.
Once the temperatures become bearable again, your children should resume their outdoor activities that allow them to explore nature, interact with others, and build summertime memories. In the meantime, explore Cognisprings for thoughtfully crafted games, puzzles, books, and activity kits to help your kids navigate heatwave days with fun and learning!
Disclaimer: The information contained on this blog should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.