Health Care and Back to School Safety

- August 22, 2014
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Here the school bell ringing? See the big yellow buses and the flashing yellow school zone lights (and the local police with their radar guns)? Stunned that the summer is just about over? Yes, it’s time to go back to school. Much to the regret of millions of children and teens, and to the delight of many more millions of parents, this is the time that kids start the annual ritual of heading back to the classroom. Actually, football players, and marching band, and drill team members have already been after it for at least a month during the hottest days of the year—getting ready for the first pep rally, the first game, and the first concert of the new school year.

As the halls of academia once again fill to the brim with children and adolescents in elementary and secondary schools nationwide, the primary concern that educators and administrators have as top of mind is not really education. Health and safety are paramount as the most important aspects of educating young people. Books, chalk boards, rules and regulations, class schedules, recess and study hall, and subject matter for all classes is all second place when it comes to the most critical aspects of delivering a good education.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a significant amount of information about school safety tips. For example, traveling back and forth to school has its own set of safety precautions. Just ignoring the school bus etiquette alone can be dangerous. Review the basic rules with your student:

·         Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
·         Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb. Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
·         Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required.
·         Your child should not move around on the bus. If your child's school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. (If your child's school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts).

Another topic is bullying. Bullying or cyber-bullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones. This topic and much more can be found at the AAP website:

Safety should be a priority for every family as children return to classrooms this fall. It is important for parents to stay up-to-date on the proper safety precautions and share this information with their children to keep them safe throughout the school year, according to The National Safety Council (NSC).

The NSC cautions against overloaded backpacks. These large bags used by children have received a lot of attention from parents, doctors, school administrators and the media in the past several years. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are more than 7,300 backpack-related injuries annually treated by hospitals and doctors. Injuries include bruises, sprains and strains to the back and shoulder and fractures.
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. This figure may vary, however, depending on the child's body strength and fitness. Here are some warning signs that a backpack is too heavy:

·         Change in posture when wearing the backpack
·         Struggling when putting on or taking off the backpack
·         Pain when wearing the backpack
·         Tingling or numbness
·         Red marks

Whether children walk, ride their bicycle or take the bus to school, it is extremely important that they take proper safety precautions. Not just parents, but all motorists, need to know how to safely share the road with school buses, pedestrians and bicyclists.  The back-to-school season is a great time to learn about Graduated Driver Licensing and what practices will work best for your family. Parents can also find more information to help their teen drivers at  

Also, every year more than 200,000 children visit hospital emergency rooms because of playground injuries, many of which could have been prevented.  Here is the NSC site for more detailed material on back to school safety:

Additionally, are your kids’ immunizations up to date? All schools require that children and teens have current vaccination records that are current and on file. Your little angels won’t be able to attend class past the second day if they are not properly immunized against the standard accepted vaccinations. It's a good idea to take your child for a physical and eye exam before school starts. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations and may need documentation. Failing to keep immunizations current could prevent your child from attending school. Check the immunization requirements in your state.

Bring all health-related forms that the school requires when you take your child to the doctor. If your child will be participating in a sport, his/her doctor may have to sign a release form. Be sure to keep your own copy of any records. Let your child's doctor know if you have any questions or concerns about the scheduled vaccines or any other health-related issues that may be affecting your child. More information is available at this site:

Some kids feel nervous or a little scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these "new" worries only stick around for a little while. Here are a few final tips for a fantastic school year, according to this website:

·         Get enough sleep.
·         Eat a healthy breakfast.
·         Try your best.
·         Use good work habits, like writing down your assignments and turning in your homework on time.
·         Take your time with school work. If you don't understand something, ask the teacher.
·         Keep a sense of humor. One teacher we know shows his new students a picture of himself graduating high school — a grinning ape in a red graduation cap and gown. This usually makes the kids laugh, and it's a good way to remind them that school is fun!

Vaccinations, eye exams, bike helmets and healthy snacks top the back-to-school health tips in most back to school reviews. In preparing for their child’s return to school, parents should review their child’s health status, just as they check their clothes and school supplies. To succeed in school, children need to be healthy, alert and able to properly see the blackboard and read. For an extremely detailed and comprehensive back to school checklist visit this website:

Finally, take some time to breath deeply and relax. You’ve had all summer to get ready. Don’t wait til the night before to make mad dashes to your local Target for those school supplies and snacks, or to the doctor’s office for the vaccinations, or to the mechanic to make sure your teen’s car is good to go. Take time to prepare in advance so you can enjoy your last days of summer with good family fun. Stress is one thing you can live without. Now…. get ready for HOMEWORK!!!!!!!!!!!

Until next time.
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