Hot weather risks for children
Babies and children need to be watched carefully during hot weather as they become unwell much quicker than adults.
Risks to be mindful of include:
- burns from hot surfaces and equipment
- bushfires and air pollution
- sunburn and dehydration
- access to water
- heat related-illnesses
These risks need to be managed effectively to ensure children can learn and have fun safely.
Before children are allowed to play outdoors, it is important to check the temperature of the play surfaces. Even if the air temperature feels cool, surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, and dark coloured plastics and rubbers can retain heat for a prolonged period of time, and this may cause burns.
Educators should use their own judgment and touch all play surfaces themselves to ensure they are safe for outdoor play. Using a thermometer to test the surface temperature of the ground and play equipment is also useful.
Shoes should be worn by children at all times, but shoes alone are not sufficient to protect against burns, as other exposed skin can come into contact with hot ground and equipment.
For more information on heat and hot surfaces, please see:
Bushfires and air pollution
Hot weather increases the risk of bushfires. When experiencing hot weather services should monitor fire activity and follow any directions from local authorities, such as the RFS.
Bushfires can also cause hazardous levels of air pollution. Exposure to air pollution has associated health risks, particularly for children with respiratory conditions such as asthma. Resources on checking the air quality in your area and how to manage the risks associated with pollution can be found at:
- Air Quality Index (AQI) data - updated hourly
- NSW Department of Health - Air Quality
Sunburn and dehydration
When playing outside, services must ensure children wear hats and sunscreen, and have access to adequate shade, in order to minimise unnecessary UV radiation exposure and sunburn.
It is also important that children have access to water and are encouraged to drink regularly in order to minimise the risk of dehydration.
For further information about shade in play spaces please see:
Access to water
Water play can be a great way to keep cool in hot weather. However, drowning can occur even in shallow water, such as buckets, play tables, and bowls.
Young children playing in or near water should be supervised closely at all times as drowning is the leading cause of death for children under 5. Water safety resources are available at:
High temperatures can also lead to heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke.
Symptoms include rapid pulse, change in skin colour, dizziness, fainting, and muscle pains. Services are encouraged to access guidance on heat provided by the NSW Department of Health, available at:
Leaving children in a vehicle can result in serious injury or death. The temperature in a parked vehicle can reach dangerous levels extremely quickly. The impact on a child’s body is almost immediate and can be fatal.
To assist services in implementing best practice in the safe transportation of children, the department has partnered with Kids and Traffic to develop the following resources:
- Guidance on understanding safe transport and travel requirements for education and care services (PDF, 4MB)
- Sample safe transportation of children policy and procedures (PDF, 1MB)
- Sample safe transport checklist (PDF, 411KB)
- Transport safety risk assessment and management guide, including sample risk assessments (PDF, 1.1MB)
- Advice for working with children, families, schools and communities (PDF, 2MB)