Travelling with a child with an anaphylactic allergy

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travelling with an Anaphylactic allergy

We love to travel as a family to all inclusive resorts and we always have an amazing time!   After our son had an anaphylactic reaction to nuts, it did make me think twice about whether we should continue to travel as we had in the past.  Would it be safe for my son to eat at the resort? What if something happened on the plane?  How would we know what would be safe for him to eat?  What if something went wrong and he needed medical attention?  Would there be too much of a language barrier? All of this and more flooded my mind.  Of course we still wanted to vacation but were we putting our child at risk?  I researched and asked a LOT of questions.

Here was and always will be our “Anaphylactic Travel Plan”

On the plane

Generally, most airlines do not serve nuts as their main in-flight snack but that’s not to say that some of the snacks may contain traces of nuts.  We did run into a flight within the US that did serve peanuts as the snack and if our son had been sensitive to airborne particulate we would have been in quite the predicament.  In advance of booking, we recommend you contact the airline directly and see what their policy is in regards to nuts. Air Canada and WestJet have phased peanuts out of their onboard snacks but can not guarantee that meals have not come into contact with nuts or that other passengers will not bring nuts onboard.  They will however, provide a “buffer zone” in rows around you where they will ask passengers not to consume nuts.  Specifics on their policy regarding customers with allergies can be found at Air Canada and WestJet.  Here is how we further handle the allergy on the plane…

  • We notify the Airline as well as the travel agent of the allergy when booking
  • We pack 4 EpiPens in our carry on bag.  We figure, in the case of an emergency this will give them time to land the plane for medical assistance if the onboard medicines don’t help.  Be sure that the EpiPens are in there original state so that they are affixed with the prescription with the  child’s name on it.  We have never had an issue getting through security with our EpiPens but asking your Dr. for a note to accompany you may not be a bad idea.
  • Try and take the first flight out in the morning as the plane is at it’s cleanest and there is less chance of cross contamination.
  • Bring sanitary wipes to wipe down snack trays, arm rests and windows
  • Pack your own snacks.  This works great for us as our son is a picky eater so his fave snacks keep him happy on the plane (and at the resort) and we are assured that they are free of nuts.

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At the Resort

We became more particular in the resort we chose to vacation at once we found out about the allergy.  The resort’s reputation is key but I have always been a big researcher when it comes to what will suit our family’s fun needs anyhow! Now, I look into the resort’s close proximity to a city with a hospital in case of an emergency.   I also test out the resort’s customer service and quick response to an email before I book.  I figure if they are quick to respond to a simple question, then they are more than likely going to be attentive to our health needs.  Once booked, here is how we handle the allergy at the resort…

  • Prior to arrival I contact the Concierge and Food & Drink Manager via email to alert them of my son’s allergy, the date of our arrival and duration of our stay.  Generally, they will book our A la carte dinners before we even arrive to ensure the allergy isn’t lost in the shuffle.  Many resorts will automatically do this but I request that they put a note on our reservations at all restaurants about the allergy and ask them to provide us with a translated letter we can carry with us at the resort explaining the allergy.
  • Once at the resort I make a point of finding the Concierge and Manager and introducing myself to them to make sure everything is in line.
  • At Buffet restaurants we tend to stick to the fresh prepared stations where we know what is going into his food.   Most desserts have a high chance of cross contamination so we tend to stick to soft serve ice cream from a machine or we dip into our nut free snacks we brought with us.  Our son will take a Hershey bar over dessert any day.
  • Allergy alert cards can be ordered from SelectWisely as an added precaution.  These cards are laminated and translated into any language you choose and also include pictures of the specific allergen on it.
  • We carry EpiPens on us wherever we go within the resort
  • If our son goes into the kid’s club for a period of time we let them know of the allergy, inform them they are to feed him nothing, tell our son not to eat anything (he’s 7 now so this works for us) and we make sure to take one of their paging devices so they can contact us if need be.

Really, not much needs to change when you are faced with an allergy in the family and you want to travel.  Take some time to do the extra planning and then go and enjoy making memories on your family vacation!

Bike Safety – Teach your kids to be bike smart

Bike safety for kids

The nice weather is great because it gets the kids out and gets them active.  Bike riding is always a favourite activity with kids and it is important that they learn to do it safely!  It is not recommended that children under 10 ride on the road but rather should ride on the sidewalk.  No matter where your child rides it is important that you lead by example and teach them the rules of safe biking from an early age.

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Before you head out…

Adjust the bicycle to fit the child

  • While standing over the bike there should be 1-2″ between your child and the cross bar.
  • The seat height should be adjusted to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended.
  • Children’s feet should be able to touch the ground

Do a bicycle check

  • Make sure the tires are inflated and brakes are in working order.
  • Does the bicycle have a bell and front and back reflectors?

Wear appropriate clothing

  • Loose and dangling clothing can get caught in wheels and cause a crash.  Be sure nothing is hanging near tires
  • Proper footwear is important so they can keep control of the pedalsIMG_4847

Always wear a properly fitting helmet

  • Make sure the helmet fits and your child knows how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward, backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly.
  • Using a helmet with a dial in the back allows you to properly adjust the helmet to fit.
  • Position the helmet on your head. Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
  • Make sure the straps of the helmet form a “V” under your ears when buckled. The strap should be snug but comfortable.
  • Open your mouth as wide as you can. Do you feel the helmet hug your head? If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.
  • Always replace a helmet after a crash as it crushes the foam in the helmet.

*Matt Burger of Spokes ‘N’ Slopes

Ride Smart

  • Teach by example – Your child watches you so wear a helmet and follow all the rules of the road!
  • Stop, look and listen before entering any roadway
  • Ride in a straight line so that you are predictable and not swerving all over the place
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Watch for cars pulling out of driveways and for parked cars
  • Always avoid road hazards – Items on the road should such as potholes, rocks, glass and oil should be safely be avoided to prevent wipeouts.
  • Make eye contact with drivers so you know that they see you.
  • Never ride out from between cars
  • Follow the rules of the road – Stop for all stop signs and traffic lights
  • Yield to traffic
  • Although it’s not recommended to ride at night due to poor visibility to your child and other drivers, if need be go bright to be seen.  Wear bright reflective clothing, be sure the bike has front and back reflectors and install a light on the bike.

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Know Arm Signals

When your children are old enough and stable enough to ride on the road, or preferably in a bike lane, they need to know the importance of using arm signals.  When riding on the road you should always ride with traffic which means that arm signals will always be done with their left arm as this is the closest arm to traffic.

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Know Road Signs 

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Children need to know what the lights on a traffic light means.  Have them review what each of the colours mean and how they need to react to each.  In addition, these signs below will be very helpful in keeping them safe while they enjoy a some exploring on their bikes.

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Happy bike riding and keep safe!

*Thank you to Matt Burger of Spokes ‘N’ Slopes for taking the time to answer all my questions and provide me with some great information for this blog post.  Matt’s passion for bike safety is truly inspiring and part of what makes him a successful business owner!

10 Rules to keep your Children Safe Around Water

Water safety

Guest blog post by  Dr. Alexandra Greenhill from mybesthelper

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I am pretty passionate about helping families become aware of water safety. As a physician mom who did emergency medicine for years, one of the worst moments in my career was having to tell parents that we could not do anything to revive their toddler who drowned in a bathtub filled with draining water while dad went to get a fresh towel.

So save a life – spend 5 minutes reading this and share it with people you care about.

First – five key facts about drownings. Did you know that?

  • Drowning is #1 cause of accidental death in kids 1 to 4 and #2 for kids 4 to 12.
  • Kids can drown in 1 inch (3.52cm) of water, thus in a bathtub or even in a puddle.
  • Contrary to common belief and most movies, drowning happens very quietly.
  • Most drownings occur inside houses and in residential pools.
  • 9 out of 10 times when a child drowned, they were supervised, but the adult was distracted for a bit.

The following 10 simple things to do should make your kids safer this summer. I challenge you to review these with your partner and your nanny/sitter – it would be surprising to you how many of these you don’t quite agree on. People base their approach on personal experiences, and growing up at a different age and/or place brings either stronger or too relaxed attitudes towards this topic, so it’s important to come to an agreement between grown ups so the kids get one set of rules only. So here are the 10 key things to consider:

  1. Learn CPR and get your nanny/sitter to do so too.
  2. Never leave a child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child. Review with an adult you leave in charge what your kids know about water safety and about swimming.
  3. Teach children to always ask permission to go near or into water and review water safety tips (many sites offer tools, booklets, videos etc).
  4. Get your kids to get swimming AND water safety lessons – research shows they both combine to make the greatest difference in preventing drownings. I remember watching in amazement when Aquaventures (amazing swimming school here in Vancouver) did their water safety practices with my kids and after first landing in water with their flotation devices on, most of the four year olds in the class stayed face DOWN and did not know what to do!
  5. Repeat these rules with your kids every two weeks: Kids forget and for them three months ago is forever!
  6. River, lake, sea and ocean side safety: Too many people forget that most places in Canada are actually close to open bodies of water and a stroll on the beach or riverside can be dangerous. Unexpected currents, steep and sudden drop-offs of riverside into the river, or unusually high water levels because of heavy rains or late spring run-off are common occurrences even if they don’t reach levels currently seen in Calgary and Toronto.Most people also don’t realise that if a river is running quickly, about 15 ¼ centimeters (or six inches) of water can sweep a person downstream, and a little over six-tenths of a meter (or two feet) of water can carry away most vehicles.
  7. Swimming safety – pool, river, lake, sea and ocean – have one adult in a group designated as the one to watch the kids, and ideally rotate this person every 20 minutes to keep them fresh and attentive. Why designate someone? Because often in a group every one thinks someone else is paying attention, and more often than not, no one actually is.  Why rotate? You have seen lifeguards do it – and yes, it’s been shown to make a difference.
  8. Boating safety – a life jacket is a must, and supervision at all times is too – see method above. And again – at least one adult per child needs to stay off alcohol as 40% of accidents are related to alcohol intake.
  9. Remember protection from the sun and proper hydration
  10. Water in the home –
    • Empty all tubs, buckets, containers and wading pools immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
    • If you have a toddler in the house, keep toilet lids closed and use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. It’s also a good idea to keep doors to bathrooms and laundry rooms closed.

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About myBestHelper

myBestHelper is an award winning online service connecting parents and babysitters, making booking a trusted babysitter as easy as booking a flight. Parents can post a job within minutes, review a short list of suitable candidates and book their preferred choice.

Made in Vancouver, myBestHelper was founded by a group of experienced entrepreneurs who wanted to use technology to solve a real everyday problem and build a company that people love! Co-founder Alexandra T. Greenhill is a mother of three young kids, a nationally recognised family physician, and serves as chair of the French School Board of BC as well as on the board of the Canadian Institute for Child Health: “I build a service that I would use and that

I can recommend to friends and loved ones!”

For more information or to sign up, visit www.mybesthelper.com.

Simple Adventures = Great Fun

We have been on the go all summer long and honestly it was starting to feel like we lived out of our van! This week we are taking a much needed week at home to relax and get caught up on the mountain of laundry our adventures have created.

For the first time all summer, today I heard the dreaded “I’m bored” from my 5 yr old. Option one was for me to come back with an “Oh really?” followed by some sarcastic comment. Option two was to go do something. So we hopped on our bikes and headed out with no destination in mind. Each kid took turns leading and we wove through the streets in our neighborhood stopping at different parks, exploring forests and finally stopping at the local pizza store for lunch. We had so much fun and the kids want to do it again tomorrow.

It’s the simple things that kids love and today proved that fun doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and be planned out! Just go with the flow and let them lead the way!

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Have a fun bike rodeo in your neighbourhood to teach bike safety!

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A couple weekends ago we attended a bike rodeo put on by our local Optimist Club, local bike shop and the Police.  It was a great FREE event that taught the kids all about bike safety.  The kids had a blast and I thought I would share the event with you because this would be something really fun to do right in your own neighbourhood to teach the kids about bike safety.

Station #1 –  Kids helmets and bikes were checked and air was put in their tires.

– Have some of the neighbourhood parents ready with bicycle pumps to fill up the kid’s tires

– Adjust seats to the correct height to allow a slight bend at the knee when the leg is fully extended

– As a bell is an important safety feature for a bike.  Perhaps give all kids participating a new bell for their bike!

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Station #2 – The kids were tested on their knowledge of traffic signals, arm signals and some basic road signs

– Print these signs out and have the kids match the name and meaning of the sign to the picture.  Review answers if incorrect

– Have all kids practice their arm signals as they will need to use these in the last station

Stop YieldRailroad_signPedestrian traffic-light-ahead

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Station #3 – Hopping on their newly tuned up bikes the had to show that they were steady enough to ride a straight line (made to look like a bike lane) while properly doing shoulder checks looking for cars.  There we people holding up pictures of cars and when the children saw these they were to look over their shoulder and yell “CAR”

– Mark out 2 straight lines with sidewalk chalk that they need to ride between.

– Place some pictures of cars along this path either on the ground or have adults hold them.  When they are beside the pictures of cars have them do a shoulder check and yell out.  This shows their alertness as well as their ability to stay between the lines when doing a shoulder check.

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Station #4The kids needed to show their ability to manoeuvre their bike through some pylons to show that they had control of their bike and the ability to safely avoid debris they might encounter

– Again, mark out a path they need to stay within and place items in their path that they need to safely manoeuvre around.

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Station #5 –  This last station was set up as little roads with stop signs where they were required to stop, look and use the appropriate hand signals to signal their turn.  

– Get that chalk ready again.  Mark out a few different pathways that lead to chalk drawn stop signs.  At each different stop sign have them turn in different directions to allow them to try and remember their hand signals.

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Bike Rodeo complete!  Congratulate all the Rodeo participants with a certificate and a fun summer treat like popsicles or freezies :-)

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Check out our blog post Bike Safely for some additional ideas on teaching your children about being safe while riding their bikes.