Preparing for School and Travel
Children with asthma don’t have to miss out on school and travel opportunities. With a little preparation and planning, children can manage their asthma when away from home.
Parents need to anticipate their child’s needs for management of asthma in the school or vacation setting.
Visit your health care provider before school starts. Use this visit to get prescriptions for medication and delivery devices your child will need at school. Have the health care provider update your child’s written action plan to include a signed physician guideline for inhaler or nebulizer use. If there are any restrictions to the child’s activity, that should be indicated as well. Most schools have a form that you can use or your physician may have a pre-printed form to assist with this communication.
Visit school or daycare to discuss your child’s asthma. Meet with anyone who needs to know about your child’s asthma, such as teachers, school nurse, office assistants, lunchroom staff, playground staff and/or gym teachers. Complete the necessary forms required at school. Have emergency contact number on file. Include information on how your child may describe his or her asthma symptoms. Provide the written plan of action from the health care provider.
It is important that each asthmatic student have a rescue inhaler available for use at school. An inhaler with a counter is especially handy for school to use to easily identify when the inhaler is close to empty. Ideally, the inhaler should be one which could be kept at school and not have to travel back and forth. If your child uses a spacer (recommended practice) keep one at school with the inhaler. The space and canister of medication could be stored in a closable baggie with the child’s name. Include directions for use (number of puffs and frequency). You may choose to have the school administer the medication especially if your child needs assistance or coaching with the device.
A responsible older child may carry and administer their own inhaler. Wisconsin Law allows for asthmatic students to carry a metered dose inhaler or a dry powder inhaler if the following conditions are met:
- The student uses the inhaler before exercise to prevent the onset of asthmatic symptoms or uses the inhaler to alleviate asthmatic symptoms.
- The student has the written approval of the pupil’s physician and, if a minor the written approval of the student’s parent or guardian.
- The student has provided the school principal with a copy of the written approvals.
Triggers at School
When you visit your school, look for possible triggers and discuss them with school personnel. Possible triggers could include classroom pets, carpeting, fuel exhaust form idling buses. Create a plan to minimize exposure as much as possible.
- Make sure you have enough medications.
- If you are visiting relatives or friends that smoke or have pets that you are allergic to, talk to your relatives/friends and create a plan to minimize your exposure. You may also want to talk to your health care provider. He or she may want to increase medications temporality.
- Consider taking a travel pillow or pillow encasement along that is allergy free for staying overnight in hotels and other homes.
- Ask if your hotel has an allergy free room.
- Avoid areas that allow smoking.