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Safety tips to treat and prevent sunburn

Kids can be great fun – highly entertaining in their vigour and love of life, especially as active as they are in these summer months. However, sunburned kids are no fun for anyone. If a child in your care gets sunburned, he or she will let his or her displeasure known so it’s best to prevent them. Overall, it’s best to prevent sunburn for anyone as its side effects and consequences can be serious.
Here are some tips to prevent and, if it does happen – as accidents are wont to do when kids are involved - to treat sunburns, even for adults who accidentally have too much fun in the sun:

Keep safe in the sun:

Prevent sunburn with sunblockSigns of heat exhaustion include pale or red skin, dizziness, nausea, moist skin, weakness, exhaustion and a normal or raised body temperature – so when in hot climates, prevent heat-related emergencies with these tips:
  • Drink plenty of cool fluids — this is the most important step you can take.
  • Apply sunscreen (with SPF 15 or higher) as sunburned skin reduces the body’s ability to cool itself – apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before sun exposure and 30 minutes after exposure begins, then reapply after kids have been swimming or sweating.
  • Look for shade to play in.
  • Know the humidex rating — it combines the temperature and humidity to indicate how hot, humid weather feels.
  • Take a lot of breaks in a cool or shady area to let your body cool off.
  • Slow down your activities as it gets hotter and don’t work, exercise, or play for too long at a time (keep kids out of the sun during peak times)
  • Wear light, loose clothing and always wear a hat

What to do for sunburn:

It’s best to prevent sunburn but it can happen. Reddened skin, pain in the area of the burn and blistering are indicators of sunburn. If they do get sunburned:
  • Cover their skin with lightweight clothing and move them out of the sun and into the shade, or indoors if possible.
  • Encourage them to keep taking sips of cold water – give extra fluids for the next two to three days
  • Cool the skin by sponging it gently with cool water, or by soaking the sore skin in a cold bath or shower for no more than ten minutes. Repeat this if it helps ease soreness.
  • If the burn doesn't blister, then it is mild. Apply calamine lotion or after-sun lotion to help soothe the skin.
  • If the burn blisters or there is other skin damage, then it is severe and they’ll need to see a doctor.
  • When going outside, all sunburned areas should be fully covered to protect the skin from the sun until healed.
Seek emergency medical care if
  • a sunburn forms blisters or is extremely painful
  • your child has facial swelling from a sunburn
  • a sunburn covers a large area
  • your child has fever or chills after getting sunburned
  • your child has a headache, confusion, or a feeling of faintness
  • you see signs of dehydration (increased thirst or dry eyes and mouth)
Have first aid resources at your fingertips with the Canadian Red Cross First Aid App to have instant access to all safety information at any time, even without reception or an Internet connection.

Get fully trained in first aid with one of our courses – find a course near you.
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