Tuesday 26 June 2018

Keeping our autistic kids cool and safe on warm nights

David stands behind a fan

The heat is on.. and so are the warm nights.  Small chat about the weather this week has consisted of the various ways people have been staying cool whilst trying to sleep.  Windows have been opened and fans have been on in an effort to shift some of the slightly cooler air through the homes in our part of London. But not in our house - it's just not safe with our kids.  So what can we do to help us survive the warm nights?

Firstly, why can't we open windows and use fans?  Our autistic son David doesn't really understand some types of danger.  There's little difference to him in walking around the house as there is walking out a door or open window and wandering down the road.  Wandering is a serious risk for many autism families.  Another autistic child died last week after wandering off and I'm sorry to say this happens far more than people might think.  It's one of the highest causes of accidental death amongst autistic children.

Of course we try to teach him to stay home but we have safety measures too. This potential for wandering off has meant our house is like Fort Knox. There's far less fear of someone breaking in... far more fear of someone getting hurt if they leave the house.

We have a key operated front door (you need a key to leave the house), and the downstairs windows are fitted with restrictor safety catches. For extra security the upstairs windows have restrictor cables -  like a locked cable to stop the windows opening beyond roughly five centimetres.

However, it was during one of the hot evenings, we've found David with one of his feet sticking out the small gap left by the cable restrictors in the big windows.  We felt we could no longer have David near these windows on his own incase something failed.  And that meant have them on the latch (that tiny setting that means it's open about a centimetre) or closing them from the moment we left him to try and settle to sleep until he came downstairs again in the morning.  It's got really hot.

So I got a fan.  Nice idea.

But David can't really be left alone with the fan for very long either.  He loves that it spins but can get over excited by this and... well I just don't know what he could do.  He plays with the buttons and stands close enjoying the air on his face.  This is fine but he could do something daft like try and hang or climb on in and get hurt.  I wasn't even sure he couldn't hurt himself on one of the Dyson ones that don't have a spinning fan -  so no fan in the bedrooms either.

So how do I try and keep us cool and safe?  Here's some simple ideas.
  • Chillow - is a 'chilled' pillow - like a cool sleeve that goes in your pillow case when you sleep.  I came across these when I was talking to mum about how hot her sleeping son was getting under a weighted blanket.
  • Cold water bottle - just take your hot water bottle and fill it with cold water instead, it'll keep their bed cooler.
  • A cold drink by the bed in a thermos bottle means the water stays colder for longer.  We love our Sigg bottle, it has an easy flip and twist spout.  Waking up with a dehydration head ache is no fun and easy to do when we don't drink enough in the hot weather. 
  • Ice packs by any openings or the bed - if you have that tiny gap in the window or a breeze coming through the door, drop an ice pack near it and it will help cool the air as it passes through.  Similarly an ice pack on the bedside table can cool the air immediately around it.  You might need to leave it in a bowl or on a plate to catch any condensation and we use ones filled with water so if they are broken the kids can’t accidentally eat anything toxic.
I think there's little chance David is going to change his window antics anytime soon, so if you have any other tips to sleeping when it's hot, I'd love to hear them.

This is not a sponsored post - anything mentioned are simply things we've used and loved or would recommend. 


  1. Great hints and tips. thanks for sharing #coolmumclub

  2. These are super. As I am reading we are in a hotel with no a.c. in 30 degree weather. It is rough.


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