Summer and playgrounds were meant for each other. Warm temperatures, longer days and relaxed schedules make it easier for families to spend time together at play. Playing outdoors is important for children. It helps to improve a child's emotional and physical well-being. It's equally important, however, to make sure children are well hydrated during summer months. Children don't recognize when they are dehydrated. At best, they know when they are thirsty, but by the time a child is thirsty they have already lost a lot of fluid. Here are some tips to help keep children cool and hydrated on the playground this summer.
- Look for shaded areas on or near the playground for children to take breaks. Relaxing in the shade is a great way for the body to rest and cool down. Also, consider trips to playgrounds that have shade structures integrated into the play system. This will help kids stay cooler while at play.
- Take water with you to the playground. Many parks and playgrounds have water fountains, but you can't rely on that. How much water should you take? A good rule of thumb is one ounce for every five minutes you plan on being in the sun, or 12 ounces per hour. Take more if it is particularly warm or if your children are very active.
- Pack snacks that are naturally hydrating like cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, pears, apples or strawberries. These are healthy alternatives to chips and cookies and help replenish fluids while at play.
- Go to the playground before 10am or after 4pm. These are typically the coolest parts of the day when the sun is low in the sky.
- Visit a spray park or splash pad. These are fun aquatic playgrounds that incorporate water sprayers and fountains. Kids get the benefit of playing outdoors and stay cool at the same time. Don't forget the sunscreen!
By planning ahead and taking care to keep kids cool and hydrated, you and your family can have a great summer at the playground!