For many children, summertime should mean outdoor fun, but too often it means an unexpected trip to the emergency room for an injury or illness that could have been avoided.

One of the most common conditions that kids experience in summer is related to high temperatures.

“Know the signs of heat illness,” says Drew White, M.D., medical director of emergency medicine at Washington Adventist Hospital. “Severe thirst, nausea, fast and shallow breathing, headache, and cool, clammy skin can all indicate heat exhaustion. If your child is experiencing these, you should seek immediate medical care.”

Scott Freedman, M.D., medical director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, also cautions against prolonged exposure to the sun. “It’s important to avoid sun exposure for babies under 6 months,” he says. “For kids over 6 months, apply sunscreen with at least SPF 15, and plan outdoor activities for before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m.”

Drs. White and Freedman also offer these tips for kids:

  • DRINK AND TAKE BREAKS. Drinking lots of water helps avoid heatrelated illness. And kids playing outdoors need a break every 20 to 30 minutes to rehydrate.
  • LEARN TO SWIM. As a parent, it is important that you teach your children to swim. At the pool or beach, they should swim under lifeguard supervision and obey all rules.
  • UPDATE EQUIPMENT AND WEAR HELMETS. Check bikes, skateboards and roller skates for worn-out parts to make sure everything works properly. With any of this equipment, always require your kids to wear a helmet.