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Get Out and Play the Summer Safe Way!

No more pencils, no more books! School might be out for summer, but did you know that your child continues to learn all year-round through play? The season’s sunny days and warm weather are great for exploring and playing together outside, but don’t let sunburns and bug bites turn your summer into a bummer. Check out these tips to help keep your family comfortable and safe! 

Dont get faded, stay hydrated. Keep babies and children well-hydrated, especially when they’re busy playing and being active. Offer your older baby and young children plenty of water throughout the day to prevent dehydration, and keep in mind that younger babies may need to feed more often when it’s hot outside.

Keep cool as a cucumber. Children are more at risk than adults of becoming too hot and suffering heat stroke in hot weather.

You can help them keep cool by:

  • keeping them indoors (or at least out of the sun) during the hottest parts of the day: between 11am and 4pm

  • teaching your child to play in the shade and making sure they have well-shaded areas to play in

  • keeping their arms and legs covered whenever possible with loose-fitting, light-colored clothing

  • role modelling sun safety behavior - wear a hat with a wide brim, ultraviolet (UV) blocking sunglasses, and make sure your children do, too

  • keeping babies younger than six months old out of direct sunlight

  • never leaving them in a parked vehicle at any time

Learn not to burn. Did you know that even one sunburn as a child can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life? While sunscreen is a must for all children one-year-old or older, it’s not recommended for babies younger than six months old. Instead, keep your young baby out of direct sunlight. If your baby is between six months and one-year-old, sunscreen is okay, but only if you can’t avoid them being in the sun. Always keep their skin covered with light-colored clothing.

When using sunscreen for your child:

  • choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher that protects from both UVA and UVB rays

  • apply it 20 minutes before going outside

  • re-apply every two hours and after any activities that get them wet or sweaty

Dont bug out. Insect repellent can help keep bugs at bay, but it’s not recommended for babies younger than six months old. Instead, you can try using mosquito netting to protect your baby and avoid taking them outside when insect activity is high, such as early morning or evening. Insect repellent can be okay for children six months to two years, but only when there’s a high risk of complications from insect bites, such as in areas where there is West Nile virus activity - only apply it once per day. For children over two years old, you can apply insect repellent up to three times a day.

When using insect repellent for your child:

  • use the least-concentrated formula of DEET (10 percent or less)

  • use on exposed skin and clothing

  • stay away from the face, hands, and any irritated skin, and use as little as possible

  • If your child needs sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the insect repellent. Wash their skin thoroughly with soap and warm water once the sunscreen and insect repellent are no longer needed.

Combo is a no-no. Health Canada does not recommend using combination sunscreen and repellent products. They don’t protect as well as individual products.

Before you know it, the days will be getting shorter, the air a bit crisper, and Fall will be right around the corner. For now, before you start thinking about trading in your bathing suits and backyard barbecues for hay bales and Halloween costumes, take the time to get out and play this summer!

This information contains excerpts from Alberta Health Services’ Healthy Parents, Healthy Children print and online resources. For more information on fever and other topics related to pregnancy and being a parent, and for information on where you can pick up print copies of the Healthy Parents, Healthy Children resources, free of charge, go to

The Healthy Parents, Healthy Children team is a part of the larger Healthy Children and Families’ team at Alberta Health Services. Find them on Facebook at Healthy Parents, Healthy Children or follow on Twitter @AHS_HPHC. For questions or comments, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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