In order to safely participate in any outdoor activity, kids need to properly fuel and hydrate their bodies. Before they head outside, feed your kids a nutritious snack such as a piece of fruit, yogurt, a handful of nuts and some water or juice to hydrate them and pump up their energy stores. Pack an additional nutritious snack and water for them to take along. Check Canada's Food Guide for healthy eating guidelines and nutritional tips for the whole family.
Keep your kids safe in the sun.
- Stay out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Liberally apply "waterproof" sunscreen on or near the water - remember to re-apply again after swimming.
- A hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved shirt, and pants protect
kids from the sun more thoroughly than sunscreen.
Your child’s normal daily fluid intake requirement can be significantly affected by exercise, sweating, heat or altitude. Kids should drink fluids, such as water, before, during and after any physical activity. Set a pace that allows your child’s body to adapt to the heat and/or altitude. Be sure to monitor your kids’ hydration and don’t make them wait for a drink if they tell you that they feel thirsty – that feeling indicates that the dehydration process has already started.
Watch for early symptoms of dehydration including thirst, dry mouth, crankiness, headaches, decreased coordination, and lethargy. Dehydration can quickly increase in severity and lead to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and in extreme cases, heat stroke.
When kids show symptoms of mild dehydration, replenish lost fluids and electrolytes through a sports drink or by feeding salty foods and water. If they show symptoms of moderate-severe dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, give them plenty of fluids, cool their core and immediately seek emergency medical attention.
Kids are at high risk for frostbite, which usually affects areas of the body that are exposed to the cold. Though it usually affects fingers, toes, ears, noses and cheeks, frostbite can happen to any exposed skin. Help prevent frostbite by dressing your kids in layers and monitoring them during exposure to cold weather.
Frostnip leaves skin white and numb and is the early warning sign of frostbite. If you notice frostnip, immediately move indoors and get your child into warm, dry clothes. Soak the affected body parts in warm water until they are no longer numb. CAUTION: Do no use hot water!
Frostbite turns the affected area gray or yellow and makes it appear waxy. Frostbitten skin requires immediate emergency medical attention. If you notice frostbite, get your child into warm, dry clothes and take your child to a hospital emergency room right away.
CAUTION: Do not rub frostbitten skin!
Hypothermia sets in after long exposure to low temperatures, wind and moisture, and can happen when out hiking, on the ski hill, or in cold water. Dress your kids properly for the conditions – in layers and with a hat – to help prevent hypothermia.
Symptoms include stiff muscles, slurred speech, intense shivering, and complaints of being cold. If you suspect your kids have hypothermia, get them into warm, dry clothes and seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Photo: Parks Canada/Tamara Tarasoff (banner)