Getting Outdoors Safely in a Heat Wave

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Summertime in Oklahoma brings the heat and humidity. The heat can feel relentless and can make if difficult to enjoy spending time outdoors or much less leaving the comfort of your own home.

To not be too deterred by the high temps, we try to keep a few things in mind to make the summer heat more bearable and allow us to continue to safely spend at least some time outdoors. Wether we’re hitting the pool, splash pad, park, or going on a walk or bike ride, there are four rules we like to follow to keep us safe and happy. 

First, hydrate!  I can not stress this enough, we all know how important hydration is. But for young ones and older adults in particular, heat-related illness can come on quickly if not properly prepared or familiar with what to look for.  Try to properly hydrate prior to leaving on your outdoor adventure. If we are leaving our home, we try to always have an individual water bottle for each of us and then a reserve to fill up if anyone drinks all of theirs.

Packing snacks such as fruit, veggies, nuts/seeds, bars, cheese (may need to pack an ice pack for this) and crackers, and jerkies, will ensure we stay both hydrated and well nourished.  Consider snacks that can withstand heat and are easy to haul.

Our second rule, is to get out early, try to “beat” the heat.  Mornings are a great time to go for a walk, bike ride, play at the park, or just enjoy time in your own yard. If you’re aiming for an outdoor adventure that will keep you away for a good part of the day, leaving in the morning to ensure you have adequate time during that “cooler” part of the day will likely be beneficial. 

As the day progresses, and the temperature rises, equipment at parks and in our own yards can get very hot, from the water coming out of the hose to the slide and seats on tricycles and swings. There are many local parks and schools that have covered play sets, but even those equipment pieces can get hot.  Having a list of parks and playgrounds with splash pads,  adequate shade both on the playground and with trees, gazebos and other covered spots, could be useful in planning time outside. Also, check your local weather for the daily forecast, any advisories to consider and water rationing.

Third, sun protection! This is in the form of sunscreen application for everyone, as well as clothing and hats. If your children are like mine, putting on sunscreen isn’t their favorite, but we do it anyway, its a non-negotiable in our house. Along with wearing sunscreen, we also use sun hats that are wide brim, for fuller coverage, if your kiddo is not into hats, I suggest if they are old enough, try to explain the importance of sun protection, and if they are too young for that conversation, practice wearing a hat. There are many kinds out there so try different ones that suit you and your family.

Light, loose-fitting and breathable clothing that also dries easily is great to consider when dressing for the heat.  There are many clothing options for young children to adults with high UV protection. 

Fourth, know your families limits and needs. Being in the heat isn’t for everyone and there are times of day when it’s just not safe to be out in the heat, unless absolutely necessary.

We know at some point in the summer, it’s going to be unbearably hot, for days or weeks at a time.  However, having a plan for those long stretches of heat can’t hurt! When we still want to try and enjoy some parts of the day outside, there are ways to make that more possible, by properly hydrating, getting out early, protecting skin, and knowing your limits.

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Hi, I'm Tenia! I’m a certified Personal Trainer of 11+ years, with a masters in Kinesiology - specializing in Geriatric Exercise Science, a mother to two spunky kids, and wife to a weatherman. We are a food allergy family that believes in the power of education, advocacy and inclusion always, and particularly in and around food allergies. I enjoy spending time recreating recipes so they are safe and delicious for our family's needs, and getting our children involved in baking, cooking and grocery shopping to hopefully instill confidence, creativity, and enjoyment in the kitchen. When we’re not in the kitchen, you can usually find our family outdoors, exploring, making messes and memories. To see what more we are into you can follow @tenia_bird2.0.

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