Keeping Young Children Safe in Hot Weather

Many adults have found the recent record temperatures challenging but with their sensitive skin, extra precautions should be taken when caring for young children in such temperatures. Below are some tips to help nurseries and playgroups adjust to the rising temperatures. 

Identify ‘at risk’ children

Whilst you must take precautions with all young children, you should be aware of those carrying a higher risk than others. Any child who falls into one of the groups listed below may be more susceptible to temperature extremes and will be likely to require extra support: 
o Children who are overweight
o Children taking medication
o Children with disabilities or other medical conditions
o Children with complex learning difficulties 
o Children with very fair complexions

Outdoor time

Nurseries should take advantage of the pleasant weather and aim to incorporate some outdoor activities into their schedules. However, outside play between 11am and 3pm should be avoided as this is the hottest time of the day. Children who do not want to go outside should be given suitable indoor activities. Shaded areas should be provided outside and children should be encouraged to spend time there. 

Sun protection

Given their sensitive skin, children are more susceptible to the harmful effects of UV rays than adults. Because of this, children must not be permitted to go outdoors to play without sun cream. Parents should provide sun cream with a high sun protection factor for their child, preferably one that lasts all day and can be applied in the morning by the parent/carer before the child arrives for their session. This must be labelled with the child’s name and stored safely within the rooms. A member of staff will apply the sun cream to every child before going outdoors to play. Written permission is sought from parents/carers on child registration forms in order to apply sun cream. Children should also wear hats when playing outdoors. 


You should be mindful of the clothes children wear during summer months. Parents should be asked to dress children appropriately- floppy hat, loose and light coloured clothing, covered shoulders and feet- and reminded of the dangers of over-dressing young children. 

Food and drink

Children, and adults, must drink extra water to cope with high temperatures. To help keep children hydrated, you can also offer foods with high water content, such as salad and fruit. 

Keeping cool

Rooms should be ventilated as much as possible, windows should be covered with blinds to block the sun and fans should be provided. Unnecessary electrical equipment should also be switched off as these can generate additional heat. If possible, you can keep children cool by providing water to play in, or cooling their necks with a damp flannel. On very hot days, do not encourage children to take part in vigorous physical activity.

Responding to heat stress/exhaustion 

Staff should be made aware of the following symptoms of heat exhaustion/stress and take action if they are spotted. If left untreated, children may develop heatstroke.  
Hot, red and dry skin
To reduce body temperatures, staff should ensure children exhibiting the above symptoms are moved to a cool room, ideally near a fan or breeze. They should then be sponged with cool, not freezing cold, water and cold packs should be placed around the neck and armpits if available. If the child shows confusion or loses consciousness, you should call 999 immediately and place the child in the recovery position if unconscious. 
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