After managing seizures, keeping children safe is the next priority. Clearly, seizure type and frequency will make a difference in a camper’s potential for injury. Issues pertaining to seizures and side effects were addressed earlier. Now it's time to look at the camp environment more closely. What would happen in different camp locations if the child had a seizure? Is there room to fall? Would she get hurt and what type of injury would be most likely? Answer to these questions will help you think about the type of safety precautions that may be necessary.
Work with your child’s doctor to assess her risk for injury and talk about what recreational activities are appropriate. Think carefully about recreational activities. If having a seizure during an activity would cause the child signifcant harm despite precautions, then don't have the camper participate.
Low-risk recreation (for example, walking, running, bowling, golf, baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball) can usually can be done by most people with seizures.
A person should be seizure free for a period of time (talk to your doctor about how long) to do medium-risk activities. These may include football, hockey, ice skating, bike racing, gymnastics, horseback riding and boating.
A person should generally be seizure free for a year or more to participate in high-risk activities, although this length of time needs to be individualized to each child. Sometimes people will be warned never to do some of these activities. High-risk activities may include hang gliding, motor sports, skiing, competitive skateboarding, mountain or rock climbing and scuba diving for example.
Assessing safety risks
- Seizure type and frequency – do seizures affect awareness or consciousness?
- Presence of a warning and predictability of seizures – can the child get to a safe place?
- Side effects of medicines or other medical problems - do these affect your child's safety?
- The camp environment - what safety hazards are present?
- Camp accessibility - can people get around easily, especially those who may need help walking or who use a wheelchair?
- Availability of help - can help be easily obtained at all camp locations?
Some tips to consider
For more information:
- Discuss the camp environment with the child’s doctor (and nurse if possible!) to get their views on appropriate safety precautions.
- Protective helmets may be recommended for children who fall frequently during seizures or who don’t have a warning. Maybe they can be worn only in locations where injuries are most likely to occur or during high risk activities. Keep in mind that helmets may be recommended for all children during certain sports and activities.
- Teach children about fire safety. Don’t play around campfires and sit far back from open flames. Children with seizures should have an adult present when near campfires.
- Wear appropriate safety gear when climbing. Most people with seizures are cautioned against climbing or activities with high risk of injury if they should fall. However, some children may be allowed to participate with safety gear, precautions and appropriate supervision.
- Check with the doctor about playing contact sports. Appropriate safety equipment should be used for all children. Kids with seizures may need extra equipment, depending on the sport and the child’s individual safety risks.
- Make sure hiking paths are accessible if your child has difficulty walking or needs a cane or wheelchair.
- Pay particular attention to water safety. If boating is a key feature, make sure staff have the capability of supervising the child with seizures appropriately. Click here for more tips on water safety.
- Teach your child to use common sense! If they have a question, encourage them to ask. If they’re nervous, encourage them to talk to the counselors. They may have a real concern that the counselors haven’t considered, or they may need reassurance and support from counselors.
Continue to Water Safety
Topic Editor: Steven C. Schachter, MD and Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN.
Reviewed: Robert Fisher, MD and Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN
Last Reviewed: April 2010