Digging Deeper - Beat the Heat with Safe Summer Outdoor Play & Learning

While summer is a great time for outdoor play, it also brings high temperatures that can become harmful. Extreme heat can cause

  • dehydration,  

  • heat exhaustion,  

  • heat cramps,  

  • and heat stroke. 

Young children are among those at the highest risk of heat-related illness. Exposure to extreme heat can also affect children’s long-term health and development.  

Heat impacts children and communities differently. A recent analysis found that low-income areas in many major U.S. cities tend to be hotter than other parts of the city. Communities of color are also disproportionately impacted by these differences in heat exposure. While children are already vulnerable, those in lower-income neighborhoods and communities of color may be at increased risk for extreme heat and its effects. 

There are many ways you can ensure safe outdoor play in your ECE program during the hot summer months! Take children outside in the morning while temperatures are cooler. Make sure children are drinking plenty of water and are dressed appropriately for the weather and activities. If available, offer splash pads, sprinklers, or water toys. Adding plants and greenery can provide shade and even help lower temperatures! Overhangs, tents, umbrellas, and more can also offer shade to keep children cool.  

Watch out for any signs of heat-related illness, follow local weather advisories, and seek medical attention if needed. Adhere to your state’s ECE licensing guidelines regarding weather conditions affecting outdoor play. If temperatures get too high, bring children indoors for physical activity.  

Keeping children safe, hydrated, and healthy during outdoor play is key to summertime fun. Stay alert and follow these tips to beat the heat! 


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