Helping Your Foster Child Beat the Heat
Although the UK is renowned for its unpredictable weather, rising global temperatures mean that in recent years it’s not unusual for us to bake in highs of 30° and above in the summer. This presents a potential risk to health and as foster carers, it’s important to be aware of how to protect children and make sure they can enjoy the summer safely.
Children can be particularly susceptible to heat-related problems such as dehydration, sunburn or sunstroke. It is great for children’s mental and physical wellbeing to play outside during the warm weather but you need to take sensible precautions.
Our experts have helped to compile this simple guide for foster carers to ensure that children stay safe in the sun.
- Choose child-friendly sunscreen
Sunscreen helps to protect children’s skin from the sun’s harmful rays. However, it is not always an easy task to apply it as it often feels sticky and greasy and children can be resistant. Choosing the right sunscreen can help. Firstly, make sure it has the highest protection factor and is specifically designed for children’s sensitive skin. Some child-friendly sunscreens come in bright colours which make it more appealing to children and can make the job of applying it easier.
- Dress them in loose cotton clothes
You probably know yourself how uncomfortable it can be to be wearing the wrong clothes during hot or humid weather. Sometimes foster children may arrive with a very limited selection of clothes so you may need to take them shopping for a new summer wardrobe. Choose natural fibres like cotton if you can as these help the body stay cooler and draw sweat away from the skin. Loose-fitting clothes are generally more comfortable in hot weather. It’s great if the child can be involved in choosing the clothes and colours they like, if possible.
- Be on the lookout for warning signs of heatstroke
If a child is overexposed to the sun, it can cause unpleasant symptoms associated with heat-related illnesses like sunstroke. If your foster child complains of any of the following, get them to move into the shade and drink plenty of water. If the symptoms continue, seek medical help:
- Weakness and chills
- Incoherent speech
- Skin feeling hot and cold
- Help them to get a good night’s sleep
None of us is at our best if we haven’t slept well, but it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep in hot weather. There are some steps you can take that might help. Keeping the curtains closed during the daytime can help bedrooms to stay cooler and making sure they are well-ventilated. A 4-tog duvet is ideal for the summer months. You might even want to try putting pillowcases in the freezer or socks and getting your child to put them on at bedtime. Try it, it really helps to lower the body temperature!
- Make sure they are well-hydrated
We know that water is not always number one on a child’s list of favourite drinks but it’s important to make sure they stay well-hydrated during hot weather. If they refuse to drink water on its own, try adding a splash of squash but avoid fizzy sugary drinks as these will only dehydrate them further. You could try making it a game to see how much water they’ve drunk – maybe keeping a chart in the kitchen which they can mark off each time they have a glass of water.
- Avoid physical exercise in the hottest part of the day
It’s great when children want to run around and play outside but it can be a good idea for them to avoid doing anything too strenuous during the hottest part of the day. If they are running around, make sure they drink plenty to replace lost fluids.
- Invest in a paddling pool
Remember when you were a child and all you wanted to do was to play in the paddling pool. Most children love playing in the water and it will also help to keep them cool. Remember to apply sunscreen regularly and never leave young children unattended.
- Some tips when travelling abroad
Click here [Link to holidaying with young children] for advice about travelling with foster children abroad. In general, however, remember that the sun in many countries is hotter than here in the UK. Make sure children wear a sunhat and use 50SPF sunblock for complete UV protection (remember to reapply regularly). Drink bottled water and buy portable fans for children so they can use them whenever they need them to keep cool.
As a foster carer with National Fostering Group you have access to a network of support, training and advice throughout the year. For more information about fostering with us, click here.