Even though it’s back to school for the kids, the weather still feels like summer is here to stay in Minnesota. Walking to school in the heat can make kids feel hot, tired, and grumpy. By following these walking safety tips, your family will kick off the school year on a happy, healthy, and cool note.

How to Prevent Dehydration

Warm weather can cause dehydration, especially in younger children. The Minnesota Department of Health states that children five years and younger are more susceptible to heat-related illness. Dehydration is the loss of water and salts from the body, and children feel the effects of dehydration faster than adults. Both children and adults should drink 6-8 glasses of water throughout the day.

According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s important to drink more water in hot and humid weather. This helps replace water lost through sweating, and lowers body temperature.

Before heading out the door, follow these tips to prevent dehydration during the morning walk to school:

Fill water bottles and store in refrigerator overnight. Make sure children don’t leave the house without an icy-cold water bottle in their hands.
If your kids are active or exercise a lot, remind them to drink more water throughout the day.
Water is the best choice for hydration. Avoid packing carbonated beverages such as soda or energy drinks in their lunches – these drinks dehydrate the body faster.
Warning Signs of Dehydration

Flushed face
Not urinating enough and dark yellow urine
Sunken eyes
Rapid pulse
Fatigue and drowsiness
Unusual irritability or irrational behavior
Wear Protective, Comfortable Clothing

Prepare school outfits the night before with this warm weather clothing checklist:

Dark colors absorb heat faster, so choose light-colored cotton clothing. Constrictive clothing makes kids feel uncomfortable and sweaty, so make sure kids wear loose-fitting t-shirts and shorts.
Baseball caps or wide-brimmed hats protect their head and face from the sun.
Use Sunscreen

Before the kids walk out the door, slather all exposed parts of their body with sunscreen. Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15 to 30 with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. If your kids don’t like the feeling of lotion sunscreen, use a spray version.

Take a Cool and Safe Walking Route

Find a shady walking route with big trees, and avoid hot asphalt and pavement which reflects heat. Stay away from highly-trafficked streets and stick to the sidewalks. When walking to school, children should be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.

If temperatures soar into high digits and it’s too unbearable to walk, don’t risk your child’s health. Instead, drive them to school or take public transportation.