Keeping Kids Cool and Safe in a Heatwave

The Spanish summer’s hot temperatures are not just uncomfortable, they can be dangerous for children, especially for children under the age of 4 years old.  The good news is that with some advance planning, a few more items in the baby bag, and armed with The Nanny Line’s suggestions of indoor activities, you can keep kids cool and safe in a heatwave.


Why are children at risk?

  • Kids are more active than adults
  • Kids (especially infants) don’t sweat as much as adults, so can’t cool down as easily
  • Children’s bodies heat up faster than adults
  • Kids won’t tell you that they are feeling overheated or might not know what heat exhaustion feels like


Do you know what are the signs of heat exhaustion in young children?

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Cold and clammy-feeling skin


What to do if you think your child has heat exhaustion?

  • Bring them to a shaded area and/or cooler area, preferably an air-conditioned space
  • Take off layers of clothes
  • Give them water to drink
  • Apply cool compresses or spritz with a spray bottle of water.  Keep a bowl with ice, water, a few drops of peppermint essential oil, and some cloths or handkerchiefs soaking in the fridge.  Applied to kids’ foreheads, armpits, or necks, these cold compresses can help lower core body temperature.


Heat stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the body’s internal temperature surges so high that organs and body systems no longer work.  The symptoms of heat stroke in children are:

  • Dry, hot skin
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Fever or seizures


Check out these informative info-graphics which illustrate the key differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke (a medical emergency) in both English and Spanish.


The Nanny Line’s Advice for Keeping Your Cool Outside:

  • Have a heatwave clothing uniform


      1. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored, and moisture-wicking clothing that covers exposed areas of skin.
      2. Pack a change of clothes if the little ones are get extra-sweaty.
      3. Avoid sunburn which further saps the body of water and make it difficult for your body to cool down.


  • Cover Up


      1. Don’t forget the hat and sunglasses.
      2. For a quick cool down, dip a child’s cotton at or cap in cold water fountain or sink and then put it on their head.
      3. Pack a breathable muslin cloth or scarf to tuck over the stroller canopy and clips to create extra shade for the stroller.


  • Embrace the Siesta

Avoid any outdoor or strenuous activity during the hottest hours of the day (11-16h).  Instead plan outings or outside games for early morning or early evening.

  • Drink Up


      1. Kids older than 6 months should drink 2-4 glasses of water/hour in times of extreme heat.
      2. Don’t gulp down refreshments because drinking icy cold liquids too quickly may cause stomach cramps.
      3. Stick to water  because super-sugary beverages can actually increase dehydration.


  • Eat to Stay Cool


      1. Avoid salty food and foods with large amounts of protein (meat, cheese) which can cause your body to become more dehydrated (loose excess salt and build metabolic heat within your body)
      2. Stick with foods that have built-in fluids: fruits, vegetables, smoothies, soups (there is a reason why gazpacho is Spaniard’s summer staple)
      3. Eat smaller snacks through-out the day instead of larger meals


  • Plan ahead for trips outside


      1. Pack cool compresses or gel freezer packs in a portable cooler or plastic container
      2. Pack water guns, water bottles, water balloons, or a water-spray/spritz bottle to fill up in one of Spain’s public water fountains in parks and plazas.
      3. Plan your itinerary to include stops at air-conditioned places such as movie theaters, shopping malls, museums, libraries.  Remember NEVER leave children or pets in cars in hot weather, even if all of the windows are down.


  • Don’t forget about the stroller


      1. Make sure there is adequate ventilation, especially if you have draped a blanket for shade which might block cross breezes.
      2. Add clip-on, battery-powered stroller fan.
      3. Consider a cooling gel-filled stroller liner


And if you decide to staying inside, here are some Nanny Line ideas for Cool Inside Activities:

    1. Ice cube painting with food coloring or colored drink mix:
    2. Make some DIY cool healthy snacks:
    3. Camp indoors- pitch a tent inside, lay out a blanket and make fun picnic-type snacks together and pretend that you are camping, just inside and no bugs to worry about!
    4. Build a fort out of pillows and blankets, complete with a fan inside for ventilation!
    5. Have an indoor scavenger hunt:  Here is a free printable list of 40 indoor items to find:



Running out of ideas for entertaining your family in the heatwave? Book one the Nanny Line’s creative and pre-screened English-speaking nannies for some new inspiration.  And if everyone is tired of being indoors, check out our list of public pools in Barcelona and Madrid.

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