For many Portlanders, the recent snow and cold of February is still fresh in their minds. Summer might seem far away still, but a recent spate of warmer weather leaves no doubt that it is fast approaching. The change in seasons spells misery for many people who suffer from allergies in Portland and across Oregon – especially those in the fertile Willamette Valley, the so-called “grass capital of the world.” Pollen there can wreak havoc with the immune systems of people both young and old.
Kids & Summer Camp
If you’re a parent of young children in Portland, you probably view summer with a mix of joy and trepidation. The pleasant weather makes outdoor activities possible, but the end of the school year means you have to figure out how to keep your kids active and engaged. For many, that means sending them to summer camp for a couple of weeks.
Children with allergies need to be especially prepared for summer camp. If your child experiences seasonal or food allergies or asthma, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) recommends the following tips for ensuring your kids have a safe and fun time at summer camp.
- Children with asthma or food allergies might benefit from a camp geared specifically toward kids with these conditions. Specialty camps staffed with people used to dealing with asthma and food allergies will give you peace of mind and ensure your child is in capable hands.
- Have your child visit a Portland allergist before they are ready to leave for camp. You’ll want to make sure you all prescriptions are up-to-date and refilled, and you can stock up on supplies they might need to treat allergies or asthma, such as an inhaler. If desired, your allergist can help prepare a plan for your child that ca be shared with camp staff.
- Provide counselors and other camp staff with information about your child’s allergies and/or asthma. This will alert them to activities that might trigger these conditions so they can make sure your child avoids potentially dangerous situations. You’ll also want to provide them with a medication list and schedule – something your Portland allergist can help out with.
- Ask the staff plenty of questions in advance. You should learn what plans they have in place to deal with emergencies, the location of the nearest hospital and how long it would take to transport your child there in the event of an emergency.
- Talk to your child, too! Let him/her know that it’s important to avoid contact with plants that might cause allergic reactions, such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Just in case, make sure they pack calamine lotion to soothe discomfort associated with a rash or hives.
- If your child is allergic to certain foods, stress the importance of having them be careful about what they eat or drink. Advise them not to share or swap snacks with other campers and make sure they carry an epinephrine auto injector and a spare at all times. Let the kitchen staff know in advance about your child’s specific food allergies to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Taking these extra precautions will ensure your child has a safe and enjoyable summer camp experience – and will give you peace of mind!