Guest column: kids need to stay cool and active despite heat

Record temperatures and heat advisories are as much a part of Arizona summers as barbecues. It’s best to stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., but young, healthy minds and bodies need the stimulation of movement and play.

First Things First offers the following tips to keep kids birth to 5 years safe —and entertained — during the dog days of summer:

Bring the Play Inside

• Read stories, then let kids dress up and create their own tales. Check with the Navajo Nation Library to see when they offer story times.

• Keep a list of activities you can suggest if kids become restless, like board games, craft projects, finger-painting and you can even make a musical instrument out of an upside down pot and a spoon.

• Museums and other attractions often offer special hours — and discounts — for families during the summer.

• Get social — trade play dates with other parents so you can all get things done while kids play inside together. Also, use social media to steal shamelessly from other parents’ ideas for activities — from building a furniture obstacle course to whipping up cookie cutter snacks.

Keep Kids Cool Outside

• Remind kids to drink something every 30 minutes or so. Water is best, but water-dense foods like fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, beans and pasta are good, too.

• Keep babies under 6 months out of the sun. For kids over 6 months, keep them inside or shaded between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

• Use the highest SPF sunscreen on kids 30 minutes before sun exposure. Re-apply often.

• Dress kids in lightweight cotton clothing that covers their arms and legs, plus sunglasses and hats.

Pool and Safety

• Keep kids within arm’s reach and don’t assume anyone else is watching them.

• Install and maintain pool fences and gates.

• Search parks and community centers for free or reduced cost swim lessons.

• Never leave your child unattended in a vehicle.

• Always make sure all children have left the car when you reach your destination.

Use this information to keep young kids cool and happy over the summer.

About First Things First — First Things First is a voter-created, statewide organization that funds early education and health programs to help kids be successful once they enter kindergarten. Decisions about how those funds are spent are made by local councils staffed by community volunteers. To learn more, visit FirstThingsFirst.org.

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