3 Summer Safety Tips When Caring for Kids with Special Needs

Yes, summer is a time for fun—there’s certainly no denying that. But, for hospitals, summer is commonly referred to as “trauma season.” Not to put anyone on high alert, but according to doctors, traumatic injuries among children tend to double during the summer months.

In the hotter months, there are more reported bicycle-related injuries, swimming and water-play injuries, and even lawnmower injuries that require the attention of trauma surgeons at various children’s hospitals around the nation. Unfortunately, special needs children are no exception to the spike in medical attention needed in the summertime. In fact, heat and other factors can put them at an even higher risk for injury or other health-related complications.

In life, it’s always smarter to take precaution, as opposed to dealing with the consequences of our poor choices or planning. With that in mind, CARE, Inc. breaks down 3 ways you can keep your child with special needs safe this summer.

Beat the Heat and Stay Hydrated.

There’s no doubt about it: children with special needs are more susceptible to serious heat-related conditions, such as sunstroke. The heat, especially in southern parts of the country, like Louisiana, can particularly affect children on certain medications. They may already have increased dry mouth, for example, or suffer from other side effects. Children with neurological or chronic lung illnesses should also avoid outdoor activities during peak afternoon hours.

For these reasons, it’s important to keep children with special needs cool and comfortable in air-conditioned surroundings as frequently as possible. They should drink plenty of water and avoid soda and other sugary drinks, as it’s important to stay hydrated. Also, pick safe times to be outdoors, with 10 AM to 4 PM typically being the hottest parts of the day.

Don’t Play Around with Water Safety.

We’ll say it again louder for those in the back: water safety is nothing to play around with. For children with seizure disorders, drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury death. So, you can never leave children alone in or near water—even for a minute. Similarly, don’t leave a child in a wheelchair parked near a pool. Life jackets are a great idea, too, if you decide to go boating for the day!

Is there a pool in the backyard of your home? Well, then, it’s a good idea to install motion detectors, alarms, or safety locks on all pools, hot tubs, or other water sources. Fences are also a great idea—just make sure it’s four-feet high at a minimum with four sides and a functional latch.

Be Aware of Conditions & Prepare Accordingly.

Staying informed and prepared is always your best bet in combating the summer heat. If you’re planning a longer outdoor outing than usual, be sure to pack a cooler of essentials, including ice, water, and snacks. Although you should be drinking fluids throughout the day, your child (and you, of course) must also drink enough fluids at least 30 minutes before going outside.

Don't forget to apply sunscreen SPF 15 or higher at least a half-hour prior to going outside, too— even on cloudy days. Then, re-apply every two hours or after swimming. Finally, dress your child how you would dress for the conditions, with loose-fitting clothes that are light-colored and airy. Brimmed hats are also a plus. And remember, the weather app on your smartphone is your best friend for staying in-the-know!

To learn about how we can CARE for your child with special needs this summer, click here for more information.