Keeping children safe during hot weather
Keep children safe during hot weather and limit the time they spend outdoors during the hottest part of the day.
Babies and children are more at risk of dehydrating because they have a high metabolic rate, produce more heat, and are smaller. It is also more difficult for them to cool down.
Signs that a child might be dehydrated
- thirstier than usual
- less frequent urination
- dark-coloured, concentrated urine
- irritability or listlessness
- fewer wet diapers
- hot and dry skin
- decreased alertness
- dry mouth
- no tears when crying
- skin that doesn’t flatten when pinched and released
- vomiting or diarrhea
- rise in body temperature
- sunken “soft spots” on a baby’s head
- sunken eyes
- decreased activity level
Seek medical advice if you think your child is dehydrated.
Help children avoid dehydration
- Breastfeeding according to child’s cues should be encouraged for all breastfed infants/children.
- Babies under 6 months of age do not need extra water in hot weather however, you may need to feed them more often.
- Encourage babies over 6 months and children to drink frequently. Offer the breast or if not breastfeeding offer water.
- Keep babies and children close to watch for signs of thirst/hunger.
- Avoid serving drinks with caffeine or large amounts of sugar.
- Bring them into air-conditioned or cooler places like shopping malls, libraries, community centres, or a friend’s place.
- Give them a cool bath or shower or cool them down with wet towels.
- Avoid extreme temperature changes.
- Reduce, eliminate, or reschedule any strenuous activity.
- Make sure they are well rested.
- Take the child’s temperature regularly.
- Never leave a child in a parked vehicle.
When children go outside
- If you can, limit time in the sun when the UV Index is 3 or higher, usually between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Have children seek shade often or make shade by using an umbrella, a UV protective tent or pop-up shade shelter. Keep babies younger than 1 year of age out of direct sunlight.
- Dress them in light-coloured, loose-fitting, and lightweight clothing with a tight weave to cover their arms and legs.
- Teach them to take frequent breaks and to come indoors if they feel overheated.
- Choose a wide-brimmed hat.
- Children should wear unbreakable, close fitting/wrap-around sunglasses with UV 400 or 100% UV protection.
- Always use a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher labelled “broad spectrum” and “water resistant”. Reapply when needed (especially after swimming, sweating, or toweling).
- Sunscreen may be used on babies over six months of age; avoid the mouth and eye areas.
- Have water nearby.
Special considerations for childcare providers
- Establish a policy and a plan to deal with extreme temperatures. Have hot weather backup plans like an indoor water day.
- Monitor the weather in the summer months (for example, follow the Government of Canada’s humidex, smog, and hot weather alerts).
- Ensure that staff are aware of the signs and symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Follow first aid procedures promptly.
- Maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.
- Offer regularly scheduled rest periods.
- Maintain and role model sun safe policies.
- Check regularly on babies and young children.
- Ensure that children are well hydrated (let them drink frequently).
- Monitor children in wheelchairs. The metal and vinyl equipment can become very warm.
- Check pavement and playground structures. They can become very warm.
If a child in your care shows signs of heat-related illness
- call for medical help immediately
- remove excess clothing from the child
- apply cold water to large areas of the skin or clothing
- move the child to a cooler, shaded location
- give the child sips of cool water (not ice water)
- fan the child
If the child becomes ill, faints, has difficulty breathing or is confused or disoriented, seek medical help immediately. In an emergency, call 911.
This item was last modified on September 3, 2020