As the heatwave rolls across Buckeye country, please take a moment to consider how you can keep your program participants and staff cool and safe. Children, especially those who are active in hot conditions, are at higher risk of heat-related illness.
The American Camp Association has listed the following tips to help keep your programs operating safely:
- Provide for frequent hydration. When weather is especially hot, increasing fluid intake is essential, regardless of activity level, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommends that during outdoor activities in a hot environment, everyone should drink two to four glasses (16–32 ounces) of cool fluids, preferably water, each hour. This does not include liquids that contain large amounts of sugar - these cause the loss of more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks because they can cause stomach cramps. Consider offering foods with high water content, such as melons and other fruits.
- Ensure campers and staff wear appropriate clothing and use sunscreen properly. Lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing is ideal, according to the CDC. Sunburn affects the body's ability to cool itself and causes a loss of body fluids. It also causes pain and damages the skin. When outdoors, the CDC recommends SPF 15 or higher (the most effective products say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels) 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply according to the package directions. Set up your procedures so that all staff and campers use and reapply sunscreen properly.
- Schedule outdoor activities carefully. Consider opportunities for shade and schedule mid-day activities with heat-safety in mind.
- Train front-line staff to be observant for signs of heat-related illnesses. All staff, and especially the staff who are outside with campers, should be trained to see the warning signs, both in themselves and the campers in their care. Ensure that your health care staff are fully trained.
The American Camp Association and Nationwide Children's Hospital have more information about the warning signs of heat-related illness, prevention strategies, and when to make precautionary program adjustments.
On the Ohio State Columbus campus, the Ohio Union, indoor Recreation Centers, Libraries and the Younkin Success Center are open during normal hours and have air-conditioning.
Stay hydrated and safe, Buckeyes.