As summer approaches, many families look forward to escaping the everyday for a little fun in the sun. But when you have a child with type 1 diabetes, these types of adventures can require a little extra prep and planning beforehand to ensure that everyone stays happy and healthy. Here's what you need to know.
Before You Go
Call Ahead of Time
If you're going to an amusement park or water park, call first to see what special accommodations they provide for children with type 1 diabetes. Many parks (including Disney theme parks) offer handicapped access to children with type 1, which will cut down your wait times and improve your experience. While you're at it, ask where you can test, give insulin and dispose of sharps, and whether they offer carb counts for their menu items online. (If you want, check out a map of the park online as well, so you'll know where food vendors are in case your child needs a snack quickly.) The more research you can do beforehand, the better.
Discuss Your Plans With Your Doctor
Talk to your endocrinologist beforehand about any changes you should make to your child's insulin dose, since heat, increased activity, and adrenaline can affect his or her blood sugar levels. Bring along plenty of extra test strips and test frequently while you're at the beach or park. Also, if your child is on a pump, talk to your healthcare provider about disconnecting and going on shots for the day, especially if you're going to a water park or beach and your child will be submerged in the water for long periods of time.
What to Pack
Bring cereal bars, energy bars, trail mix, and dried fruit along with you, suggests dietitian and certified diabetes educator Marlisa Brown, R.D., as well as juice and water. Even if outside snacks are not usually allowed in an amusement park or water park, most will make special accommodations for families of children with type 1 diabetes -- just ask.
Always pack two to three times what you will need, including needles, sharps, strips, insulin, glucose tablets, and treatment for severe low blood sugar. You will be testing more frequently, so it's important to have more supplies than you think you'll actually use, just in case.
Medical Alert Bracelet
Your child should wear one identifying himself or herself as having
type 1 diabetes.
Cell Phones or Two-Way Radios
If you and your older kids are separating during the day, make sure you both have cell phones or two-way radios so you can reach each other at
While You're There
Find the First Aid Stations
When you get to a water park or amusement park, be sure to find out where the first aid booths are -- that's a great place to store or take insulin, do testing, and dispose of sharps.
At the beach, ask a lifeguard where the nearest facilities are. If you parked nearby, your car is also a private place to take insulin -- but never store supplies in a hot car, as that could tamper with their effectiveness.
Locate the Lockers
It's better to carry your supplies with you. However, if you've brought a lot of extra supplies, a locker can be a good option. Just be sure to follow the storage recommendations provided by the manufacturer to keep supplies within the appropriate temperature range.
Scope Out Restaurants
Make a mental note of where restaurants or snack stands are in case your child gets low and needs a drink or snack ASAP.
With a little preparation you can have a terrific time on your
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.