Advice on keeping children safe as the weather warms up
The South Australian regulatory authority, the Education Standards Board (ESB), has issued some advice as summer begins, to help keep children safe and operate in line with the relevant regulations.
It’s vital for education and care services, the ESB said, to have hot weather policies and procedures, and to ensure they are followed. These should include a service’s beliefs about children’s opportunities to play outside, a list of risks and how these will be minimised.
Babies and children are sensitive to hot weather, and as such, extra precautions must be taken. Making the most of playing outside earlier in the morning, for example, can be a way to balance out the need for outdoor play with safety measures to protect children from sun damage.
Other measures include setting up outside play opportunities under a verandah or in the shade, and providing cooling water play. Babies and children should be kept inside during the hottest part of the day (typically between 11 am and 3 pm) on days when the heat is extreme, and sun safe measures, including hats and sunscreen, should be employed when playing and learning outside.
The ESB also reminded educators that play equipment or synthetic lawns may get too hot to use, and cause burns to skin on very hot days. In terms of assessing safety, the ESB said that if you can place your hand on a surface and leave it there comfortably for five seconds, it should be safe for children to play on.
Providing children with extra water, or formula or breast milk for babies, is an important part of keeping children hydrated and well on hot days. While sleeping, the ESB said, clothing and coverings should be minimised, and children and babies should sleep in a cool part of the building.
In the event of an incident in which a child becomes unwell and needs medical attention, the relevant regulatory authority should be notified in line with the regulations.
For more information on safety in early childhood education and care settings during hot weather, please see here.