Summer can be a wonderful time for fun and adventure but it can also be a dangerous time for our kids. Following some basic safety tips can help to keep your summer time safe.
Exposure to sun and heat: Heat stroke occurs when a person has prolonged exposure to heat coupled with dehydration. Our kids are particularly susceptible to heat injury because of difficulties regulating body temperature combined with a lack of sensation, pale skin and high pain tolerance. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that can cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. If possible, avoid direct sunlight for more than a few minutes, always use sunscreen and hats and be sure you are close to shade. Stay hydrated and decrease outdoor exercise during peak sunlight hours.
Bug bites: Bug bites present a unique set of issues for our kids. Skin picking sites often start with a bug bite and we all know how quickly those can get out of control. Prevention is key- use bug spray, avoid bright colored clothing and cover arms and legs when walking through the woods or near standing water. If a bug bite does occur cover it with a band–aid and use anti-itch cream regularly. If necessary use reinforcers for not scratching.
Drowning: The number one cause of accidental death among children with special needs is drowning. Swimming is a great activity for kids with PWS and should be encouraged but safety must come first. Remember that low muscle tone prevents the body from being able to tolerate long periods of physical exertion. A child may be able to swim to the middle of the pond but not be able to swim back and due to sensory processing difficulties may not be able to identify feelings of fatigue in time to do anything about it. Encourage time in the water but provide constant supervision.
Hydration: Staying hydrated is a critical part of summer safety. Dehydration can lead to heat exhaustion, behavioral outbursts and GI issues. Find out from your pediatrician the best water intake goal for your child and stick to it. Sticker charts and goal wheels are a good way of involving your child and will teach them healthy practices in the process. Be cautious of hyper hydration as well because too much water/fluids can be just as dangerous as not enough.
Summer should be a fun and exciting time for your family and following some basic safety tips will keep it that way.
Patrice Carroll is Latham Centers’ world-renowned Prader-Willi syndrome specialist. She works with Latham’s residents with PWS, their families, and consultants, continuously learning and teaching about PWS best practices. Do you have questions for our PWS specialist? Submit your “tip” topics or general questions to TipTopics@LathamCenters.org.