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Summer and Camp Safety Tips For Special Needs Kids

written by: Anne Vize • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 8/2/2012

Summer is a great time to be out and about in the sunshine. Caring for kids with special needs means taking some extra precautions. Here are some summer safety tips and camp safety ideas to keep your special needs learners safe this year.

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    Summer Safety Tips

    Think like a child on summer holiday when you are planning for summer or camp safety measures! The captions with the images that you'll see here Can I eat this? are certainly not meant to be patronizing - they are meant to help you think more like a kid and less like a sensible adult. Kids on summer holidays have a built-in curiosity that is often sadly lacking in school times. And for kids with special needs in particular, that idle curiosity combined with oodles of time to explore at summer camp, in a recreation program at school, or just playing at home can lead to big trouble!

    Think about what could happen with each and every activity, considering what you already know about the abilities, tendencies and possible worst outcomes with a given child. This is not a matter of expecting the worst of kids, or about being negative. It is simply a practical way of avoiding the most easily seen dangers before they happen. If a child in your care is known for absconding, or has a fascination with water, think about how that tendency applies to an outdoor summer situation. Work out the possible ways that things can go wrong, and then plan ahead for them by taking precautionary measures.

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    Water Safety

    Water carries significant risks and holds a great fascination for most kids. Find out what skills children have prior to allowing This can't be deep! them near water. Also do some investigating about the behaviors or tendencies you might expect from particular children. This will give you an idea of the possibility of things going wrong and what indicators there might be prior to a problem arising. Water accidents can happen in several ways--falling in, tripping, stumbling, not being able to see the water is there, having a wheelchair or mobility aid that rolls into the water, not being able to hear a verbal warning about water, or having behavioral issues that make it unlikely instructions will be followed. As a teacher, camp leader or worker with young people, it is important to think through all the possible combinations of kids and water, and then plan for avoiding the problems before they occur.

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    Camp Safety

    Do an audit of any summer camp venues--looking at the physical characteristics of the camp location--as well as the program. Consider what Where does this bus go? activities are happening. For complete camp safety, your audit should include:

    • An identification of the risks.
    • An assessment of the risks and how they relate to the children.
    • A plan for limiting risks that you can present to others.
    • A plan for dealing with emergencies and contingencies should they arise.
    Camp safety and summer safety are vital for all children - especially the children with special needs in your care. Taking time to explore the dangers and plan accordingly means a safe and enjoyable summer holiday for all!