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Keeping Cool This Summer

It is somewhat ironic that the time that children have off for school vacation can be one of the worst times of the year to play outside! The heat, humidity, and insects can drive even the most nature-loving boy back indoors. For those who donít want to come in from the heat, though, heeding some simple precautions to protect against the heat is crucial. If your son plays outside in the summer (whether at a supervised camp or just in the backyard), here are some facts you need to know:

1. Avoid playing outside during the hottest part of the day when the sun is overhead. Instead, plan outside time for earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.

2. Wear sunscreen and reapply it often. Little boys are not known for being very aware of the passage of time, so it is very important for moms to monitor the time their sons spend outdoors and to reapply their sunscreen at the recommended intervals (usually every 80 minutes or so). Even one blistering sunburn in childhood can dramatically increase oneís chance of contracting skin cancer as an adult.

3. Stay hydrated! The more you sweat outside, the more water you need to replace. Again, little boys arenít always in touch with their bodiesí needs, so parents should be extra-vigilant to make sure that their sons are drinking enough water. Urge your son to drink, even if he says he is not thirsty.

4. Clothing matters. Dress your son in cotton clothes, rather than in synthetic fibers. Cotton is a much more breathable fabric, and wearing it will allow your sonís body to cool more efficiently.

5. Do not overdo it. Left to their own devices, most boys will sit down and rest when they become tired or overheated. With the many outdoor summer activities available, though, your son may not feel that he has the option to take a time out. Whether his activity is camp, two-a-day football practices, or marching band practice, obtain the reassurance of the supervising adult that adequate rest and cooling breaks will be taken. Then, follow up with your son to make sure it is actually happening.

6. If your home is not air-conditioned, seek out free public air-conditioning at places like libraries, malls, and community centers. Many movie theater chains offer free movies during the summer, and most libraries have many different programs kids can participate in. In fact, in large cities, many of the libraries even offer kidsí lounges, featuring video games and TV.

Summer is an inevitability, but suffering through the heat is not. With some smart planning and a little flexibility, you can ensure that your son can enjoy his summer vacation Ė and play during it, too!

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Content copyright © 2013 by Laura Delgado, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.
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