As the summer comes to an end, families and kids are getting ready to start the new school year. Back-to-school preparations generally include buying supplies and new clothes; however, the health and safety aspects of heading back to school tend to be overlooked.
CenCal Health has collected a list of tips that will make the school year safer and healthier.
» Keeping the germs away: Germs are easily spread in the classroom and can cause your child to get sick. Remind your child to wash his or her hands after using the bathroom with soap and water, and scrub vigorously for 20 seconds — the time it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song two times. Also send him or her with hand sanitizer to keep at the desk.
» Picking a backpack: Look for a backpack that has a padded back, multiple compartments, and hip and chest belts. Multiple compartments better distribute the weight in the backpack, keep items secure and provide easy access to supplies. Hip and chest belts transfer some of the backpack weight from the back and shoulders to the hips and torso.
» Backpack safety: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that hospitals and doctors treat more than 7,300 backpack-related injuries annually. Some of these injuries include bruises, sprains and strains to the back and shoulder and fractures. To avoid injury, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child's backpack should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of the child's body weight. Lighten the load; each night remove articles that can be left at home. When organizing the contents of the backpack, distribute the weight evenly. Place the heaviest items on the bottom to keep the weight off of the shoulders and encourage your child to wear both straps of the backpack.
» Playground safety: Because nearly 80 percent of playground injuries are caused by falls to the ground, improper surfacing is the first thing parents should watch for when inspecting a playground. Encourage your child to use playgrounds with a soft surface.
» Traveling to school: If your child is walking to school, make sure he or she walks in a group with an adult supervisor and encourage him or her to look both ways before crossing the street. If your child is biking to school, make sure his or her helmet fits correctly. The helmet should fit low on the forehead so that two fingers can fit between it and the eyebrows. Also, make sure to go over the rules of the road with your child before he/she leaves.
» Bus safety: Tell your child to take extra precautions around the bus. Tell her or him to make sure the bus driver can see them and to never walk behind the bus. If your child drops something near the bus, tell him or her to tell the bus driver.
» Bullying tips: Bullies can sometimes make school difficult for some children. Go over what to do if your child or a classmate is being bullied. Tell him or her not to give into the bully’s demands and just walk away. If the problem continues, encourage your child to tell the teacher or principal.
» Make sure your child knows emergency contact information: Make sure your child knows his/her address, your phone numbers and work phone number in case of emergencies.
*Healthy tips courtesy of MSN Healthy Living, National Safety Council and Reader’s Digest.
— Kelly Kapaun is a publicist representing CenCal Health.