We’re in the thick of the summer holidays so we’re brushing up on our sun health and safety!
In the schools of Singapore right now, the halls have fallen quiet. Kids and teachers have escaped on their summer breaks (the Maldives, perhaps?), with many families packing up and leaving town for a much-needed holiday (don’t miss our sanity-saving tips for flying with kids!). For most, there’s a good chance of days spent in the sun on the beach or by the pool, or exploring exciting new places in search of family adventures. While these vacations will be unforgettable, no one wants it to be for the wrong reasons. Too often, excess sun or heat can wear little ones down, leaving them feeling miserable, or even sick. If you’re heading off soon on a sunny summer holiday (or you’re already there – woo hoo!), here are a few heat exposure related illnesses to look out for, and some tips on how to make sure the fun never stops (except at bedtime).
The mildest form of heat exposure, heat cramps are muscle cramps and spasms caused by overexertion in a hot environment, such as a long day playing beach football. If your kids are not drinking enough water before, during, and after exercising they will be at higher risk. While these cramps are not usually serious, they could be a sign of more extreme heat illnesses.
Heat exhaustion is a slightly more serious concern than heat cramps and is signified by symptoms such as excessive sweating, faintness or dizziness, nausea, headache, or a fast pulse. Essentially, this is your body’s way of telling you that you’re too hot and it can’t cool itself effectively.
Heatstroke and sunstroke
Heatstroke is the most severe type of heat illness that usually requires emergency treatment and hospitalisation, as the body temperature has risen past 40 degrees Celsius and is unable to cool itself. Other symptoms include a change in mental state and behaviour, alternated sweating (the skin will alternate between feeling hot and dry or even moist), nausea or vomiting, intense headache, faster heart beat, flushed skin, and rapid, shallow breathing. If left untreated, heatstroke could quickly lead to brain, heart, kidney, and muscle damage or failure, and could ultimately lead to death.
Sunstroke is the same as heatstroke, but is caused by prolonged exposure to the sun.
Everyone knows about sunburn, and for most of us it’s just a nuisance, but a bad burn can be downright painful. More importantly, it’s now widely known that overexposure to the sun’s rays can lead to premature skin ageing and an increased risk of skin cancer. It’s just not worth it!
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOUR FAMILY?
Great news: all of the above heat-related illnesses are 100% preventable! Sure, you could simply stay inside but that’s just plain boring and not particularly healthy. Instead, try following these simple tips while you’re out and about:
1. Dress for the climate
Light, airy, loose-fitting clothing that can dry quickly is recommended for all hot climates. In extremely humid climates it’s advisable to avoid cotton as it will just soak up water and take a long time to dry, resulting in an extra heavy insulating layer that will make you hotter. Long sleeved shirts can be handy if you don’t have the benefit of shade. Although you may feel hotter, this is a much safer option than getting burnt.
2. Pack the right supplies
Sunscreen and water are no-brainers. But you should also make sure everyone in the whole family is wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Also consider packing electrolytes, which are great for replacing lost fluid while exercising.
3. Stay hydrated
This is another no-brainer but still one we tend to forget when we’re having too much fun. While the amount of water needed will differ for each person based on their activity level and age, it’s generally recommended that kids younger than 12 years drink 1-1.5 litres of water per day, and kids older than 13 years drink at least two litres.
4. Limit time spent outdoors on extremely hot days
As you probably already know, it’s best to avoid spending long periods of time outside during the hottest time of day. Try to limit activities to the morning or evening, and stay in the shade as much as possible.
5. Invest in a sound health insurance plan for your family
Ask anyone who’s had sunstroke, bad sunburn, or even mild heat cramps and they’ll tell you it’s not what they had in mind for their summer holiday. Unfortunately, there’s always a chance of being affected and if you are, a visit to the doctor might be in order. If you’re outside Singapore this can be expensive, especially if you don’t have insurance. It’s always a great idea to ensure you have a robust international health insurance plan that covers you and your kids while overseas. From simple travel plans to full-on international plans, the experts at Pacific Prime Singapore can help recommend a plan that will meet your needs. Jump onto their site today to learn more.
This post is sponsored by Pacific Prime.