Whether at the beach, summer school or just out and about, it is important to keep your children safe this summer.
Always apply a good sunscreen when outdoors, not just at the beach. Choose a brand suitable for children with an SPF of 50+. Two of my favourite brands for kids are Child's Farm and Uriage (not and AD). Apply it 20-30 minutes before going in the sun and reapply at least every 3 hours and after swimming. Besides the face, arms and legs don’t forget the back of the neck, top of the ears and top of the foot.
Avoid being out in the sun in the peak hours of 11:00-15:00 and if you can’t avoid it, seek the shade under a tree, umbrella or tent. Consider using protective clothing like UV-protective swimsuits, sunglasses and hats especially for your children. Using these yourself gives your children a good example.
Avoid the heat even if it is not peak hours. Heatstroke and heat exhaustion can occur faster than you think. This includes hot cars. Never leave your child alone in a car even for a minute. When out in the heat, look out for signs of heat exhaustion in children such as cramps or fatigue. Make sure they wear light clothes and drink plenty of water throughout the day to remain hydrated.
Bacteria multiply more rapidly in warmer weather so its important to follow some food safety guidelines to avoid foodborne illness:
Always wash your hands before handling and serving food, and make sure children wash their hands (or at least use sanitizer) before eating. This is not only applicable at home but also at the beach or barbecues.
Do not allow raw meat and poultry to mix with cooked meat or come in contact with plates and cutlery. Make sure meat is properly cooked to kill harmful bacteria, especially in barbecues where it might be harder to tell.
You can pack lunches and prepare food the night before as long as they remain in the fridge overnight and are brought out before leaving home. You can also freeze sandwiches but add condiments, lettuce or tomatoes later to avoid them going soggy.
Use an insulated lunch bag throughout the hot months and include frozen gel packs and/or frozen bottle of water to keep the food fresh.
All perishable foods should be kept in the fridge and any leftovers should not be kept out of the fridge for more than 1-2 hours.
Children are more prone to dehydration than adults. Many parents struggle with keeping their kids hydrated either because the child doesn’t enjoy water or because they will be distracted with summer activities and forget to stop and drink. I find filling up bottles of water in advance and using insulated bottles and ice cubes to keep the water fresh, really helps, even if we are staying at home. Keep in mind that water can also come from foods with high water content. For more tips and info on this topic, you may want to read my recent article Keeping your Kids Hydrated.
Protect against bugs
Bugs like mosquitos are not just a nuisance, but can also carry disease. It is best to use insect repellents to guard against ticks and mosquitos which can carry viruses or other diseases. Strong repellents may contain DEET, which is very toxic even for humans, so avoid applying on a child’s face and hands to avoid ingestion. There are several natural and child friendly insect repellents on the market to choose from these days. In the evenings, wearing long sleeved tops and trousers can also help
Avoid strong scented soaps or perfumes on your child and do not let your child walk around with ice creams or sweet drinks. These sweet strong scents tent to attract bees and wasps.
Drowning - Make sure children are not left unsupervised when close to or in the water especially if they are not confident swimmers. Drowning can occur in a few seconds so make sure the adult on watch is not distracted. Adults and children should always wear the right size of life jackets when on a boat.
Recreational water illness - Keep germs out of the pool by taking children frequent bathroom breaks / changing their nappy frequently. Give them a shower rinse before and after using the pool. These will avoid illnesses which come from germs and chemicals found in the water we swim in.
Feasts in Malta
Be extra attentive to prevent your child getting lost in the crowds. Make sure they have a name tag with your number or something to be able to track them. Keep them away from fireworks for safety reasons: never let them touch or light fireworks. If they are eating/ drinking more sugar from the stalls, make sure you supplement extra water.
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