Keep your little ones safe in the sun this summer

We all love summer and being outside in the sunshine is fun, good for you and should be encouraged … but never under estimate the power of our English sun. It is frighteningly easy for your child to over-heat or get sun burn.  Read our top tips to help keep your little ones safe in the sun this summer.

Think ahead:

Dress your child/children appropriately for the weather.  Loose fitting clothes that are made of light, natural fibres are best – and layers are always best to enable them to shed a layer if too hot and add when they get chilly.  If your little one is in a pram or buggy, ensure you have something to lightly cover the pram to shield them from the sun.  Ideally use a proper sun resistant shade that not only block the sun’s rays, but importantly allow air to circulate too.  Make sure they have a sun hat (preferably with a neck flap too) and sunglasses; as UV exposure can harm their eyes as well as their skin. Also, ensure you have water and snacks swiftly available when out on day trips to keep them well fed and hydrated. A hungry miserable child can quickly spoil things for everyone!


In hot weather, it is vital to remember to encourage your kids to drink plenty of water and discourage them from being out in the sun during the hottest part the day. Make it easy for them to take plenty of breaks in the shade and arrange quieter activities between running around, thereby avoiding heat exhaustion.  Use a transparent bottle, so you can see how much they’ve had to drink – offer it regularly and monitor to ensure they are actually drinking as much as they need.

Heat exhaustion:

Heat exhaustion can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, particularly when children are out in the heat for an extended time.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • feeling sick
  • feeling dizzy
  • having a headache
  • a stomach ache
  • a raised temperature

If your child develops any of these symptoms, take them out of the sun and into the shade or an air-conditioned environment and help them rehydrate. Frequent sips of Dioralyte are ideal or, if you don’t have that to hand, offer an isotonic sports drink or water. If they don’t recover extremely quickly and you are concerned, do seek medical attention.

People often refer to heat exhaustion as heat stroke, however heat stroke is far more serious than heat exhaustion and someone with heat stroke should always be seen by a health professional as quickly as possible.  Heat stroke is when the body is unable to produce sweat and therefore is unable to cool itself down.

Symptoms include:

  • a high temperature (over 103 F)
  • a rapid/strong pulse or heart rate,
  • loss or change of consciousness
  • hot, red, dry or moist skin

This is a medical emergency and you should seek medical advice immediately.

Don’t burn:

As their skin is so delicate, the sun’s UV rays can very quickly damage children’s and babies’ skin, even on a cloudy day.   Sunburn can happen in less than 15 minutes of being out in the sunshine, however the redness and discomfort may not become apparent until a few hours after that – so don’t use the colour of their skin to judge if they’re burning or not.   Sunburn can lead to serious problems in later life, so try your best to avoid it in the first place.

To avoid sunburn:

  1. Always ensure children are wearing appropriate, high SPF sunscreen that has a minimum of 4 stars for UVA protection and apply it liberally over their face and body.  Apply it at least half an hour before going out in the sun and make sure their shoulders, the back of their neck, the tops of their ears, nose, cheeks and the tops of their feet are covered.  Re-apply every 2-3 hours –  and even more frequently if they’re in the water
  2. Take particular care if swimming or boating, as water intensifies the sun’s rays
  3. When swimming, choose tightly woven opaque swimwear, ideally with a sun factor rating.
  4. For babies and toddlers, ideally use a pram cover with a sun factor
  5. Regularly go indoors or move into the shade for a break from the sun
  6. Avoid being in the sun between 11:00 am and 3:00pm, when the sun’s rays are strongest
  7. Ensure they wear a hat, ideally with an SPF factor, wide brim and ear/neck cover.  If your child is reluctant to wear a hat, try one with a chinstrap – and also lead by example by wearing one yourself.  If they see you wearing a hat, they are much more likely to follow suit!
  8. Encourage them to wear UV sunglasses.  Many kids’ sunglasses have a headband to ensure they stay on and don’t get lost.
  9. Avoid leaving your child for any length of time in a car or buggy positioned in direct sunlight.

First Aid for sunburn:

If your child does get burned, cool the affected area under a tepid shower for at least 10 minutes or apply repeated cool, wet towels for 15 minutes. When the area has been completely cooled, apply neat Aloe Vera gel to the affected area.  Aloe Vera gel will soothe the burn, reduce swelling and promote healing. Give the child plenty to drink and Calpol for the pain. Any child who has been sunburnt should be seen by a medical professional.

Make the most of the holidays, this time is really precious as they grow up so fast!

It is highly recommended that you attend a practical or online First Aid course to learn how to help in a medical emergency.  First Aid for life and provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.  The best way to be prepared for action in an emergency is to attend a practical First Aid course.


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