How to Keep Kids Safe at Outdoor Sporting Events Summer hydration and sun safety tips every parent needs to know
article submitted by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
If your family has just settled in Atlanta, congratulations! You chose a great time of year to enjoy all the outdoor sporting fun our sunny city has to offer. From a Braves ballgame at the new Suntrust Park to the city’s new soccer franchise Atlanta United, which will play at Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium until the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens later this year, there are plenty of ways to experience the thrill of sports in the city.
But for families from colder and drier climates, minding the heat and humidity is an all new factor to take into account when making sure your family stays safe outdoors. “Atlanta is known for its hot summer and, depending on the activity, parents should be vigilant with monitoring their kids,” says Dr. Scott Batchelor, an Atlanta pediatric emergency medicine doctor who is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Erlanger Medical Center.
With average highs of 92.5 degrees, last summer was one of the hottest on record. Atlanta is land-locked and doesn’t get cool breezes like coastal cities, and humidity is high in summer months, which can make daily temperatures feel even warmer. But as long as parents prepare, the family doesn’t have to to miss out on an afternoon of fun activities.
Stay Safe in the Sun
Batchelor advises parents and guardians to make sunblock a priority during any extended time period spent outdoors. To prevent sunburn, sunscreen must be a minimum of SPF 30, should offer broad-spectrum coverage (preventing against both UVA and UVB rays), be applied 30 minutes prior to exposure and reapplied every 90 minutes.
He also emphasizes that adults must remember their children’s skin is far more sensitive than their own, and a childhood sunburn can lead to health concerns down the road. “[S]uffering one or more serious sunburns in childhood or adolescence can more than double one’s risk of developing potentially deadly melanoma later in life. A child’s skin is thinner and more sensitive to even a short time outdoors.”
How to Hydrate
When it comes to keeping your child hydrated, never rely on thirst. “When young athletes or spectators feel thirsty, they may already be dehydrated,” Batchelor says. He recommends water for any activity that is usually less than one hour. But if your child is going to be actively playing for one or more hours, a sports drink with some carbohydrates and electrolytes is an ideal way to rehydrate
Plan ahead and pack plenty of hydrating beverages for your child. If you are going to a major sporting event, check the website for rules about bringing in outside food and beverage before you go. For example, at SunTrust Park, one sealed bottle of water per guest is allowed, but coolers and ice chests are not permitted.
Smart Tips from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Get more information about keeping your children safe this summer with Children’s Summer Safety Tips.
Practice “The Shadow Rule” – When you are outside, if your shadow is shorter than you are, it means UV rays are intense and you need to be extra careful.
Lather Generously – Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to the entire body, 30 minutes prior to going outdoors; reapply every 2 hours or after excessive sweating or swimming Sunscreen should be re-applied every 90 minutes or according to directions.
Clothe Up – Outfit children with a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection. Sun protective clothing with a UPF rating of 50 or higher provides protection, as well.
Minimize Sun Exposure – Even when precautions are followed, it is best to minimize the amount of sun exposure during the peak hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
It’s Not Just For Sunny Days – Remember that water, sand, and snow reflect the sun. Even on overcast day, clouds allow 70-80 percent UV penetration.
Heat Illness Prevention
Know Signs of Heat-Related Illness – Symptoms of heat illness include: cramps; very high body temperature; red, hot, dry skin (athlete is not sweating) or heavy sweating; rapid pulse; throbbing headache; dizziness; nausea/vomiting; confusion; loss of consciousness; paleness.
Prehydrate – Thirty minutes before activity, have your child drink until he or she is no longer thirsty — plus another eight ounces. Kids weighing less than 90 pounds should drink five ounces for every 20 minutes of activity. Kids weighing more than 90 pounds should drink eight ounces every 20 minutes.
Choose The Right Drink – Water is best if the activity lasts one hour or less. For activities lasting more than one hour, kids should drink a fluid with carbohydrates (sugar) and electrolytes. Drinks like Gatorade and Powerade were specially designed for re-hydration during exercise and contain the right amount of carbohydrates. Fluids like fruit juice and soda have too much sugar and can cause cramping.
Drink It, Don’t Pour it – Your child may think pouring cold water on his head or face feels great, but it will not make him more hydrated.