Family Fun: Keeping Children Safe in Warm Weather

Mom pushing child on zip line at Variety KC splash pad in Lathrop

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Summer temperatures in Kansas City can be a health risk with vulnerable people including disabled children being most affected by periods of warm weather.

The following tips will help you keep your family stay safe in hot weather:

Little girl having water break on the beach to avoid dehydration and heat illness

Avoid Dehydration

It is extremely important that you make sure your child is kept suitably hydrated during warm weather. Dehydration can cause significant health problems and in extreme cases even death.

All children but especially those with special needs are at risk because they may not recognize that they are overheating or becoming dehydrated or communicate to you that they are feeling unwell.

Make sure your child drinks at least every 20 minutes, water or well diluted fruit juice is best. Drinks at a moderate temperature are better than those that are ice cold. Avoid drinks with caffeine.

Try making some homemade ice-lollies if you are struggling to get your child to drink regularly.
Limit activities like physiotherapy to the cooler parts of the day.

Avoid heavy foods and include plenty of fruit and salad in your child’s diet (if you can).

Always take plenty of drinks with you when you are out and about.

If your child is tube fed, take advice from your feeding specialist on how to meet their hydration needs during warm weather.

Watch out for signs of dehydration: particularly for muscle cramps in the arms, legs or stomach, mild confusion, weakness, or sleep problems.

Sun and beach safety instruction, skin protection from summer sun vector infographics.

Sun Safety

Keep your child out of the sun as much as possible, especially when it is at its highest between 11am and 3pm. Babies under the age of 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight altogether as their skin contains too little melanin, which is the pigment that gives skin, hair, and eyes their color and provides some protection from the sun.

If your child is in a special needs buggy or wheelchair use a parasol to keep them shaded.
Dress your child in loose fitting clothing such as cotton so sweat can evaporate. Make sure your child wears a sun hat with a wide brim or long flap at the back to protect their head and neck.

Use a high factor sun cream on the whole family – using a minimum of SPF 15 making sure it has UVA and UVB protection and is water resistant if playing in water. Apply the sun cream regularly especially if your child is in and out of water paying particular attention to shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks, and tops of feet. Always reapply after toweling down your child.

Protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses!

Remember sitting in the shade or using a sun parasol or umbrella does not offer total sun protection and children can still burn if sun cream is not applied.

Little Toddler Girl Swimming in the Pool with Life Vest on a Sunny Summer Day

Keeping Cool

Many prescription medicines can reduce the tolerance of heat so you may need to take extra care to keep your child cool.

Stock up on supplies like medicine, food, and drinks so you don’t have to go out in the heat.

Keep your home cool – shutting windows when it is hotter outside than it is inside can help. Remember to open the windows later in the evening when it becomes cooler. Closing blinds and curtains in rooms that get the sun can also help.

Leaving bottles of iced water in rooms can help bring down the room temperature during the night as they defrost.

Turn off non-essential lights and electric equipment as they generate heat.

A paddling pool is a great way to keep babies and young children cool. Keep the pool in the shade and always supervise children. Or place a cool cloth on your child’s neck or sprinkle water over the face, hands, and feet.

Plan a cool bath before bedtime.

Keep nightwear and bedclothes to a minimum.

Use a thermometer to check the temperature of your child’s room – a room temperature of 61°F and 68°F is ideal.

Electric fans may provide some relief if temperatures are below 95°F. At temperatures above 95°F fans may not prevent heat related illness and may cause dehydration. Do not aim the fan directly on the body.

Remember to keep an eye on the weather forecast so you can plan ahead!

Child in wheelchair having fun outside

Here are 10 Fun Ways Your Child with Special Needs Can Stay Cool This Summer from

We’re feeling’ hot, hot, hot! Summertime is in full swing and keeping cool is a must. Here are 10 sensory friendly ways you can spend time with your child while keeping cool this summer:

1. Water Balloon Toss
Poke some holes in a water balloon so that the water slowly sprays out and there is no fear of covering ears at the POP of a balloon! Toss the balloons back and forth with a friend or get a group together to pass the balloons around a circle.

2. Indoor Picnic
If you need an escape from the heat or the bugs outside, create an indoor picnic complete with blankets, pillows, and some fun snacks. For added sensory stimulation and authenticity, hang streamers from the ceiling to pretend like the picnic is under a willow tree.

3. Toys ‘N Suds
Gather small plastic toys like cars, trains, and blocks to give them a good scrub outside with soap and water. The soapy water could be repurposed for slip ‘n slide fun too!

4. Calming Cool Down
Close the windows and blinds and turn down the air conditioning. Set up a fort in the living room and enjoy the refreshing “breeze” inside, away from the noise and distractions of the outdoors. Stick some glow in the dark stars onto your ceiling, turn off the lights, lie back and enjoy a starry sky anytime of the day. This cool down activity can stimulate calm for the whole family.

5. Water Painting
Get out the paint brushes and cups of water to paint your hot sidewalks and driveways with nothing but water! Use the paint brushes to cool down with a stroke of water down arms and legs for extra sensory fun.

6. Ice Cube Melting
Give kids an ice cube and see how long they can hold it in their hand while it melts. Instead of hands, place ice cubes in the crook of an arm or behind knees. As the ice melts, it will cool off arms and legs. Freeze little prizes inside the ice cubes for a reward after the ice cube has melted.

7. Summer Sun Ice Cream
Yes! Make ice cream outside during the summer. Check out this awesome recipe for shake-and-make ice cream. If ice cream isn’t your style, put juice boxes in the freezer for a slushy treat. Shaken or squeezed, the creation will provide fun tactile input followed by a treat!

8. Sprinklers
Swimsuits on (and maybe goggles and water shoes too!) for a cooling run around the sprinklers. There is a plethora of sprinklers to choose, from crazy sprayers or gentle misters it’s just finding the right one for you.

9. Ice Necklaces
Ice necklaces and bracelets and anklets, oh my! Check out the simple-to-follow instructions for a neat way to stay cool. Melting jewelry on pulse points like the neck, wrists or ankles help bring body temperature down and provide heat relief. Wearing the “cool-elry” on top of socks and shirts is ok too!

10. Backyard Fun
When the sun sets and the day has cooled down, set up a reading area outside- blankets, hammock, porch swing. Stare at the stars with your little one, reading stories by the moonlight or bring a flashlight too. Summer is all about fun and family! Spend this summer with the one’s you love creating, playing, and having fun while using these ideas to stay cool.



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