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Summer is in full swing. Whether this means hikes in the woods, days on the beach, or backyard barbecues, it’s important to remember sun safety while having fun. Just like most worthwhile things, we can take a page out of the book of camp for some vital tips and tricks on keeping kids safe outside.
While we'd all prefer chocolate sauce, we're talking sunscreen: the basis of sun safety. It sounds simple, but we know from camp that convincing an 8-year-old of the harmful effects of UV rays isn't always so easy! Try using colored, scented, or spray sunscreen – or for an added twist, make it into a game where sunscreen is an invincible shield.
For sensitive skin, know there are several brands that are hypo-allergenic or include natural ingredients. Dermatologists recommend applying SPF 30 or higher about 20 minutes before going in the sun, with reapplication every two hours. Don’t forget that the active ingredients in sunscreen deteriorate over time so it's wise to replace your bottle every year or so.
Accessorize Like a Star
There are some parts of the body that sunscreen can't protect, but that doesn't mean they don't need protection from the sun! Keep hats, sunglasses, and lip balm handy to protect the top of the head, eyes, and lips. Rather than make it a chore, turn hats and sunglasses into a real fashion statement by giving your kids the pride of picking out their own. Plus, it will make for great photos down the road! Search around for some fun lip balms as well. Nothing is more fun than bubble gum flavored, key-chain balm with your kids' favorite character plastered on the label.
Hydration for Days
A bit of proper hydration goes a long way. At camp, reusable or personalized water bottles are a must, and they might just be the trick to get your little ones more excited about drinking their share of H20. Everyone in the family can have their very own (insert favorite colors or characters again). Try filling them partially with ice to keep water colder for longer when out in the sun for multiple hours. The best hydration is plain H20, but you can have fun with this if you're facing resistance! Consider adding fruit, or offering a treat like sugar-free ice pops. Just remember to avoid sugary juices as these will only worsen dehydration.
Know the Signs
Despite best intentions, sometimes we are not hydrated enough. If you learn to spot the signs of dehydration early, you can mitigate a potentially dangerous situation before it gets out of control. Children won't necessarily be able to recognize these signs on their own so be on the lookout for irritability, drowsiness, dizziness, cool and dry skin, complaints of a dry mouth, and less frequent bathroom breaks. The important thing here is to be proactive!
Once you're thirsty, you may already be dehydrated. If you're out for the day or have lots of time in the sun up ahead, try assigning check-in buddies. It makes for fun bonding, keeps everyone communicating, and could have a big safety benefit.
Do as I Do
When it comes to safety, be a role model for your youngsters. At camp, we stress the importance of modeling positive behavior in all that we do because children are constantly learning (mostly how to be good grown-ups!). So, if your little ones see you slathering on the SPF; rocking a cool hat, sunglasses, and lip balm; and chugging down the water, they are more apt to think all those things are the fast track to being the coolest kid on the playground. Even if these actions don’t lead to The Fonz-level coolness, children are great mimics and will pick up on your behavior.
Keep in mind that a little preparation before heading outside will keep you and the kids safe this spring and beyond. Just think . . . what would my camp counselor do? Then translate that into a fun day in the sun!
The Super Spring content series was made possible through a grant from Niagara Cares, the philanthropic initiative of Niagara Bottling. Funding from Niagara Cares also supports a variety of camp programs within SeriousFun Children’s Network. SeriousFun associates are responsible for the content within this article.