SparkPeople Blogs  •  safety  •  summer

Have Fun and Stay Safe in the Summer Heat

By , Hillary Copsey, Parenting Writer
We live in South Florida. It's summer. And it's hot.

This time of year, it's 80 degrees at 7 a.m. with 80 percent humidity. It can get to be 90 degrees in the shade by noon.
I've stopped complaining about it, and my kids, born into this sweltering subtropical region, believe the freezing point to be 50 degrees. Yet, even they protest that it's too hot to play outside during the summer, which is fine by me since I'm constantly worrying that they'll collapse of heat stroke from running around the ''bases'' in our backyard.
Still, it's summer, and the kids can't be cooped up all the time. We've discovered a few ways to stay active–and safe–in the heat.
Be an early bird or a night owl: My marathoner husband gets up at four a.m. most days to get a run in before the worst of the heat. We apply that same principle to the kids. On the weekends, we get them outside early. While I'm weeding the flower beds, the kids are playing basketball in the driveway or hitting baseballs in the backyard. After dinner, we head out for more backyard baseball. However, bugs tend to come out in full force during mornings and evenings, so be sure to keep bug sprays and citronella candles on hand if you decide to venture out during these times. Also, if you decide to run, walk or bike in these low-light hours, be sure to wear reflective clothing and, ideally, flashing lights to let motorists know you're there.
Find the water: Even though we're lucky enough to live just miles from the ocean, we often find a kiddie pool or backyard sprinkler to be more convenient and just as fun. Whether it's a pool, a pond or even just a garden hose, find some water source to cool your kids down when they're running around in the heat. And remember to keep your skin well-slathered in sunscreen whenever you're out in the sun.
Drink water, and lots of it: If you're out in the heat, make sure to replenish the water your body loses through sweat and activity. Keep water bottles full and handy to avoid dehydration and heat stroke.
Seek the shade: If your kids run around outside during the hottest times of the day, make sure they do it in the shadiest spot available. A shaded area is likely to be at least a few degrees cooler than a sunny spot, and sometimes even one degree can feel like a big difference.
Take a break: Keep an eye out for signs of heat exhaustion and make sure you stop your kids before they get there. My rule of thumb: When my kids are playing outside, I have them take a water break at least every 30 minutes, sooner if I notice they're getting especially hot and sweaty. Check on how they're doing while they're taking a break. A child with heat exhaustion will be cool, clammy and pale. You don't want your child to get to that point, but if he does, get him immediately to a cool, shaded place, lay him down and slightly elevate his legs. Have him drink some water and monitor him closely.
Go inside: Don't be afraid to find an indoor place to stay busy. Take the kids to an indoor basketball court, swimming pool or museum. Or, just bring them in the house for a rousing game of ''Simon Says'' or tape-on-rug hopscotch. They can always go back outside later in the day or first thing tomorrow.

How do you beat the summer heat?

Hillary Copsey is a newspaper features editor in Florida with experience writing about everything from population trends to health-care issues. As the mother of two boys, she also is versed in searching for daycares, cooking healthy dinners on the fly and playing with trucks. She co-writes the blog
Not raising brats. She writes about parenting for dailySpark and

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


It's 106 here, so yes....I'd say. 80 or 90 would be fun! lol Report
i take medication that leaves me vulnerable in the heat of the summer. Late evening walks do great for me, and I carry a big bottle of water to drink. Report
I'm in AZ and after working in a hot kitchen all day, forget it when it comes to do anything. The mornings with a swamp cooler on the patio makes it bearable to do some workouts. But not much else till fall.
I agree that reflective clothing and lighting are necessary when it's not that bright and sunny outside, but flashing lights mess with depth perception and the observer may not be able to tell exactly where the flashing light is. Report
I'm training for a weeklong bike ride across Iowa in three weeks, so I can't let the heat keep me from training. It's supposed to be 103 degrees tonight for my ride! I've ridden in 90-degrees before, so hoping it won't be THAT much worse... Report
We are in SE Georgia, so we have the same weather. We try to only take the kids to the pool once the sun is starting to set so they can enjoy the pool without the full force of the sun. Thanks for the tips. Report
If it gets to 80 degrees here everyone melts, but it was good to go over your advice for when we vacation in places not so cool as here... Thanks :) Report
one thing they missed was water balloon fights, I've had a lot of fun with the kids with that one Report
Great pointers for staying active even when it is hot outside. Report
Kids playing football at high schools worry me in the summer months. Report
Some places in Cal. get up in the 100s or hoter! Report
Wow! I live in the midwest: and, usually, think of Florida, as a hot State. However, you are just reporting temps like, 80, or 90 degrees! We are having a drought here, in the midwest; and the temps have been in the 100, and, this, since like April, which is VERY unusual! I would give anything to be in Florida, right now. I can deal with your temps! These temps that e have been having here are keeping me house bound, as I have no desire to leave my Air Conditioned home. We, also, unfortunately, have a lot of humidity to deal with! Report
For my two boys (also in Florida) we do swim team practice mornings and evenings and we have an after lunch quiet hour for reading (or writing or quiet individual play) and we participate in the summer reading program at the air conditioned library. The way everything is scheduled we are outside mornings and evenings and inside during the worst part of the heat/sun. Works for us. Report
I stay in my IGLOO or find a walrus to shade under. Report
We lived in SW FL, and I truly understand about the heat & humidity. My girlfriends and I would start walking at 5:00 am just to be done by 7:00 am to avoid the heat. Even the outdoors pool water was like warm bath water. Report
We live in Ft Lauderdale, Fl. We usually go out in the morning and come home for lunch and do what we need to do inside while it is nice and cool here in the house. Report
We don't have the humidity or mosquito problem here in the Phoenix AZ area but we sure have the heat! I do my errands in the morning or in the evenings during our HOT summers. No humidity to speak of causes other problems - we carry water all the time and every where we go because you can dehydrate very quickly and not realize it until severe symptoms begin. Good tips that can be applied to any hot climate - thanks! Report
I either get up early enough to get my walk/jog in, or I spend the day swimming at the lake. Report