Celebrating the 4th of July: Tips for Parents of Kids with Diabetes

Patriotism, parades, parties, and pyrotechnics – July Fourth is a high intensity day of celebrations and national pride. In many towns, families move from one exciting event to the next, and the day can be very unpredictable. Still, parents of children with diabetes want carefree time with their families, and children don’t want to think about diabetes details. A bit of advanced planning and packing can make this festive day much easier.

1. Remember the diabetes supplies. There is nothing like being on the crowded sidelines of a loud and exciting parade when your child tells you that he left his pump at home…Check and double-check in the morning to make sure you have double of everything you need in a pack that is easy to carry.

2. Keep the insulin cool. July can bring high temperatures. Bring the insulin in an insulated container with an ice pack. If your child is on the pump and you will be far from your refrigerator, bring a back-up reservoir.

3. Plan your meals ahead of time. The Fourth of July comes with cheeseburgers, chips, chocolate chip cookies, and potato salad, which are the perfect storm for extremely high blood sugars. Feeding your children healthy, low-glycemic food on the way to the party can minimize how much of these foods they will eat. Each child reacts to food differently, but in our case, watermelon slices never spiked my son’s blood sugars, and they replaced other desserts.

4. Pay attention to exercise. Playing on a hot day can lead to low blood sugars, so use the glucose meter frequently. If your child has just eaten a high-fat, high-carb meal, play an active game and let the exercise minimize the blood sugar effects of the food.

5. Prepare ahead for swimming. If your child wears a pump, bring extra infusion sites in case the water and activity dislodge the site. Your child will also need a cap for the site and they are easy to lose, so pack extras. For injections, bring extra alcohol swabs to wipe away suntan lotion, sand, or chlorine before giving insulin. Remember to reduce your child’s dose to adjust for the exercise of swimming in accordance with your doctor’s recommendations.

With some advance planning and packing, you will be prepared for an easy and relaxing Fourth of July. As the fireworks explode into the night sky, may you and your family have the satisfied feeling of a holiday well spent.

Laura Plunkett is the author of “The Challenge of Childhood Diabetes: Family Strategies for Raising a Healthy Child.” As the mother of two teenage children, she offers her best advice on navigating the joys and challenges of raising children with diabetes. You can read more of Laura’s columns by entering her name into the search box at diabeteshealth.com. Laura can be reached at lauramplunkett@challengeofdiabetes.com.  Her book is available at challengeofdiabetes.com.

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