Britain is bracing itself for another heatwave later this week, and with school summer holidays underway, many children will enjoy outdoor activities. Playing and exercising outside boosts a child‘s physical and mental health. However, a heat index of 30°C or above poses a significant health risk.
Taking this and the rising cost of living in mind, Brean Horne, a personal finance expert at NerdWallet, shares five ways parents can keep their children cool at home on a budget.
Homemade iced drinks and lollies
Getting creative in the kitchen and whipping up a batch of iced drinks and desserts is a cost-effective way to keep your kids cool this summer. That’s because pre-made drinks and desserts are more expensive than homemade versions.
For instance, frozen iced drinks and smoothies can cost up to £4 in some shops. However, a 500g bag of Tesco Frozen Whole Strawberries costs just £2.20, which could save you money if you try a homemade recipe instead.
There are many quick and easy recipes available online for free if you need inspiration, such as BBC Good Food’s mango sorbet or a strawberry granita.
Ice lollies can also be made at home for a more cost-effective frozen treat for children and adults alike during the heatwave. Pour some fresh juice into lolly moulds and leave them until frozen, a much cheaper alternative than purchasing packets.
You could even take the opportunity to visit a local fruit farm early in the morning (before the temperatures peak) and collect some fresh strawberries, raspberries, and other seasonal fruits with which to create some delicious frozen treats.
During periods of extreme heat, it’s vital to keep your child as cool as possible, and paddling pools are ideal if the idea of a holiday or a trip to the local lido or beach will stretch your financial budget too far this summer.
Keeping the whole family entertained, paddling pool prices start from just £10, and heaps of long-lasting options are available from Argos, Amazon, John Lewis, and many more.
If you are facing hose pipe bans, not to worry, as you can still fill your pool with no problem. The easiest way is to fill a large washing bowl from the kitchen sink and pour it into the pool until full.
Dress your child lightly
Dress your children in clothing that is light-coloured, lightweight, and limited to one layer of absorbent material that will maximise the evaporation of sweat.
Children produce more heat relative to body mass during activities such as walking and running and have a low seating capacity. This means their body core temperature rises at a higher rate during dehydration.
Therefore, clothing choice is crucial to keep the body temperature as low as possible. You don’t have to spend too much on kids’ clothes either, as there are several places such as charity shops, eBay or Facebook Marketplace where you can find ideal clothes without paying full price.
Invest in reusable water bottles
Not only are shop-bought plastic water bottles costly when added up, but they are also bad for the environment and can get dirty if reused for too long.
Many reusable kids’ water bottles are available for as little as £5. Insulated bottles are recommended in hot weather, as they maintain the temperature of beverages keeping cold drinks refreshingly cold for up to 24 hours.
You can also purchase water bottles with measurements of ml printed on them, helping you track how much water your child has consumed to ensure they drink at least six-eight cups of fluids daily.
Keep them shaded under an umbrella
Too much sunshine and heat can cause serious medical conditions, such as sunstroke; therefore, if your child does want to stay outdoors, it is useful to keep them within shaded areas.
Investing in a parasol or umbrella can provide UV protection to suncream and reduce the risk of heavy sun exposure when your child plays outside. If you have a private garden, you could also try installing a DIY canopy to maximise available shade.
Of course, suncream is essential, and while it can be fairly costly for branded sun protection, local supermarkets such as Aldi offer some of the best UV protection for as little as £1.99.
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