Keeping Up With The Kids: Summer Safety and Back to School Best Habits

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Does it seem like school just let out? Yet, it’s about to start again. In the meantime, there are a few more weeks to keep up with the kids and keep them safe as they get ready for another academic year.

Play it safe at the beach.

More danger seems to lurk beneath and above the surface of the water this summer. Rip tides, red tides, jellyfish, rays, sharks, sunburns and the heat dome.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional drownings are among the leading cause of death for children. Even if a child knows how to swim, gulf waters can be deceptive. Younger children should wear life vests or other flotation devices. Set a rule for older children to only enter the water with a buddy and swim within sight of a lifeguard or other adult who’s a strong swimmer.

Don’t forget the sunscreen.

Anytime kids are outside, slather them in sunscreen. Here are tips to protect them:
• Choose broad-spectrum products that protect from UVA and UVB rays
• Use lotions not spray sunscreen
• Choose water resistant with SPF of at least 30; avoid anything higher than 50 SPF
• Check ingredients for zinc oxide or avobenzone, which dermatologists recommend as safe and effective

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

The extreme heat over Louisiana this summer keeps children and adults alike at risk of dehydration. By the time kids feel thirsty, they are probably already dehydrated. Give them plenty of water and avoid sugary sports drinks, soft drinks and fruit juices.

The recommended daily intake of water for children basically equates to their age.

Stop the pesky buzzing.

Mosquitos seem even peskier this summer. Along with causing itchy bites, they’re also carrying Zika, West Nile and malaria, with cases diagnosed in several southern states.

You can protect kids with various spray repellents. But to avoid the chemicals, a study from Virginia Tech recommends bathing them instead with coconut-scented soaps and washes, using coconut-scented sunscreens or applying coconut oil to their skin.

Schedule kids’ well checks.

Before school starts, schedule annual wellness checks that may include:

• Growth and development evaluation (height, weight, body mass index)
• Blood pressure check • Hearing and vision tests
• Required immunizations and optional vaccines
• Screening for behavioral or emotional issues
• Spine check for possible curvatures

Eat, study, play healthy.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies show that breakfast positively affects children’s learning and behavior. Children who do not eat breakfast are also more likely to be less physically active and have a lower cardio-respiratory fitness level.

A breakfast of whole grains, high fiber and protein- rich foods rather than sugary cereals and processed foods helps them in the classroom and on the playground.

According to Guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services, children should be active throughout the day to boost growth and development.

Lights out; it’s bedtime.

Children need set bedtimes. For better sleep routines, follow the same wake-sleep cycle even during the summer and on weekends. Children ages 6-13 should get 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night, while teenagers, ages 14-17, sleep 8 to 10 hours a night.

Be aware of mental health issues.

Anxiety and depression affect all ages. Watch for signs of stress including:
• Excessive worrying or sadness
• Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
• Difficulty paying attention and concentrating
• Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
• Unexplained headaches, stomach aches or other body pains

Take time to talk with your child and be an active listener. If you suspect mental health issues and particularly if they mention suicide, seek professional help immediately.

For more information on health and wellness, contact Thibodaux Regional Wellness Education Center, 985.493.4765.