This week we in Michigan began to get a taste of the extreme weather that summer can bring. Monday and Tuesday we had temperatures over 90 degrees, and today we had two rounds of severe thunderstorms pass through (including one that brought over 2 inches of rain in less than 2 hours).
The weather we experience here in Michigan is one of my favorite parts of living in the mitten state. We can enjoy the lightning shows one day, sweat non-stop the next, and relax to smell the fresh breeze another day. The weather can bring dangers for all of us, but especially for our children.
The Hot Hot Heat
There are days that I simply can’t avoid being in the heat since I work an outdoor job. Yesterday I found myself working harder than I have in some time, and it was as hot as 94 degrees while I was out there. I hydrated and took breaks, but still found myself fighting off a bad headache for about two hours once I got home from work. I can deal with that sort of pain every once in a while, but I don’t want my little ones to have to deal with that.
I want to know how to keep my girls safe from the hazards of heat. I know the standards of hydration and heat avoidance, but I wanted to know more so I did some research. According to the CDC, infants and children up to 4 years of age are at the greatest risk of heat-related illness. The top tips I found are …
- Increase fluid intake.
- Avoid sugary and very cold drinks
- Stay indoors and in air conditioning, if possible
- NEVER leave a child alone in a closed, parked vehicle
- Keep a close eye on children
- Take advantage of shady areas
Protection from the Sun
The sun provides light, warmth, and more on a daily basis, but it can also be dangerous. It has been a long time since I’ve had a sunburn, but that’s not because I’ve properly taken care of myself—I’ve just been lucky. I know that I need to apply sunscreen much more than I do, and I need to make sure my bad habit of forgetting to apply doesn’t carry over to my girls.
The CDC warns, “just a few serious sunburns can increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life.” The top tips for sun protection come through preparation, and are …
- Plan to be indoors at midday when UV rays are strongest
- Seek shade when possible
- Keep child covered up with appropriate clothing
- Have child wear a hat (full-brim is best)
- Have child wear sunglasses
- Apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15 before child goes outside, and reapply when necessary. Apply the sunscreen 30 minutes before going out for best protection.
I love a good thunderstorm. The crashes of lightning can turn night into day for brief moments, the claps of thunder can shake the ground, and the feeling of a downpour is amazing. But there’s no doubt that a storm can cause harm. Some storm safety tips may seem a bit ridiculous and will take away from the fun of storms, but those tips could save the life of someone you love.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggest “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!” to protect you and your loved ones from lightning. Outside is not safe when lightning is nearby, so get inside and avoid plumbing and plugged-in electronics. If you must go outside, then avoid open fields, stay away from tall objects and water, and get to a safe place inside as quickly as you can.
Preparation Can Mean Preservation
I’ve had a certain way of dealing with weather throughout my lifetime, but as I get older and as my children get older I realize that my ways need to change. It won’t be easy, but if it means my kids will be safer and have a lower risk of injury or illness then I’ll do it.
I think I may put together a sun and heat safety kit for each of our cars. That way we will have whatever we need even if we forget to put it in the diaper bag when we go out. Once I put the kits together I will post more about the contents and cost.
I think the hardest change for me will be about how I handle thunderstorms. I enjoy storms, and I want to make sure my girls aren’t afraid of storms. Yet I need to make sure they are aware of the power a storm can have. It will be tough to find the proper balance between sharing my love for storms and providing the proper protection.
OK, now I have the information I need to protect my family, so if the weather could just give me a little bit of time to change my ways and create the necessary preparations that’d be great. We’ll see how that goes.