While we all love to have sunny days, the heat itself can actually cause many problems, especially for young children. Children are particularly at risk in hot weather as they can’t control their body temperature as efficiently as adults do, due to them not sweating as much, and they are also less likely to realise or say something if they start to feel unwell.
Babies and young children can become very ill during hot weather, their health usually being affected by:
- Heat Exhaustion or Heatstroke
Hot weather can also exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma, so it is really important that nurseries follow weather advice to keep children happy and healthy when the sun comes out.
Hot Weather Advice: Sun Safety
- Don’t let children outside during the hottest hours of the day (11am-3pm) unless they are completely in shade
- Don’t let children outside for long periods of time
- Make sure all children and staff are wearing sun hats and sun cream
- Encourage older children to put on sun cream themselves under supervision and explain why this is important
- Recommend the use of wide-brimmedsun hats and loose fitting clothing to parents for the children
- Recommend the use of sun cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and one that protects against both UVA and UVB rays
Hot Weather Advice: Avoiding Dehydration
- Keep lots of fresh cool water available (not left out in the sun!) with ice cubes to keep it cool, for children old enough to self supply
- Give older children gentle reminders to drink and ask them ‘have you had a drink recently?’
- Keep offering younger children drinks throughout the day
- Make sure staff drink plenty of fluids in front of the children to reinforce this behaviour and teach them the importance of keeping hydrated
Hot Weather Advice: Keeping Cool
- When outside, keep the children in complete shade – many nurseries have canopies or gazebos or even thick trees that provide sufficient shade. As long as it is not speckled shade, children are safe from the sun.
- Reduce the level of activity on hot days to quieter activities such as storytime, creative, sand or water play
- Test the temperature of the floor with the back of your hand for longer than 5 seconds, only then can you allow children to sit down
- Keep the nursery as cool as possible during the day – close the blinds or curtains, use fans to circulate the air and monitor the temperature of the room with a thermometer
- Keep pushchairs indoors or in the shade as they can get very hot in direct sunlight
Monitor the Children at all Times
The most important advice when it comes to the children’s safety in hot weather is to be vigilant and to monitor the children and their behaviour as much as possible. If anyone is behaving differently to normal, e.g they become floppy or unusually tired, then try to cool them down immediately with wet flannels, fans and cold water. Always contact a health professional if you have any further concerns.
As both heat and direct sun can potentially harm children, especially those with existing health conditions, it is crucial that nurseries take every precaution to keep children safe in hot weather. This can be easily achieved by providing plenty of water, avoiding physical activity on very hot days, making the most of outdoor shade and promoting the use of sun cream.
As well as preventative and protective measures, nurseries should also be taking this opportunity to teach children about good sun safety. By leading by example, creating activities and encouraging them to be “sun safe,” you will teach them an invaluable life lesson.
Need More Help with Your Nursery or Health & Safety?
Child Care Health and Safety Wales provides many publications and resources on Health and Safety in a nursery setting, including policy log books and checklists that can be tailored to your business. If you need any advice or guidance on which ones you need, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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