This blog is a place where parents and teachers of children 3-7 years of age can find information about topics specific to children in this age group, share ideas and access free resources for home and the classroom.

Five Tips to Make Your Halloween Safe

It’s that time again …planning Halloween costumes, parties, and taking the kids trick or treating.

 Halloween

Just because Halloween celebrates scary things doesn’t mean you want any safety scares of your own.

With a little bit of planning and these five tips from Kids.gov, you can ensure your ghouls and goblins have a frightfully fun time this year.

  1. Look up your local trick-or-treating time and rules. Then plot out a map of safe neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. Let older children take the map with them if they’re trick-or-treating on their own.
  2. Stick reflective tape on dark costumes—it will help drivers see you. And make sure your kids can see clearly. Face paint may work better than a mask when it comes to visibility.
  3. Pick a perfect pumpkin for carving. It should be sturdy, not soft, with a flat bottom so it doesn’t topple over. You can also encourage your kids to paint creative faces on their pumpkins instead of carving.
  4. Consider using a glow stick or battery-powered lights instead of candles to light the way for trick-or-treating or in jack-o-lanterns, especially around little kids who could get burned or drapery that could catch fire.
  5. Screen candy before your kids eat it. Toss out anything with opened or damaged wrappers and homemade treats, unless you know the giver personally.

Don’t forget to follow basic precautions that will make your children’s Halloween a safer night of fun.

 Source: Kids.gov

Over the Counter Medicines and Driving

medicines

The Food and Drug Administration shared the following release about the use of over the counter medicines and how they may impact on your driving.

Anyone who operates a vehicle of any type—car, bus, train, plane, or boat—needs to know there are over-the-counter medicines that can make you drowsy and can affect your ability to drive and operate machinery safely.

Over-the-counter medicines are also known as OTC or nonprescription medicines. All these terms mean the same thing: medicines that you can buy without a prescription from a healthcare professional. Each OTC medicine has a Drug Facts label to guide you in your choices and to help keep you safe. OTC medicines are serious medicines and their risks can increase if you don’t choose them carefully and use them exactly as directed on the label.

According to Ali Mohamadi, M.D., a medical officer at FDA, “You can feel the effects some OTC medicines can have on your driving for a short time after you take them, or their effects can last for several hours. In some cases, a medicine can cause significant ‘hangover-like’ effects and affect your driving even the next day.” If you have not had enough sleep, taking medicine with a side effect that causes drowsiness can add to the sleepiness and fatigue you may already feel.Being drowsy behind the wheel is dangerous; it can impair your driving skills.

Choosing and Using  Medicines Safely

You should read all the sections of the Drug Facts label before you use an OTC medicine. But, when you know you have to drive, it’s particularly important to take these simple steps:

First, read the “active ingredients” section and compare it to all the other medicines you are using. Make sure you are not taking more than one medicine with the same active ingredient. Then make sure the “purpose” and “uses” sections of the label match or fit the condition you are trying to treat.

Next, carefully read the entire “Warnings” section. Check whether the medicine should not be used with any condition you have, or whether you should ask a health care professional whether you can use it. See if there’s a warning that says when you shouldn’t use the medicine at all, or when you should stop using it.

The “When using this product” section will tell you how the medicine might make you feel, and will include warnings about drowsiness or impaired driving.

Look for such statements as “you may get drowsy,” “marked drowsiness will occur,” “Be careful when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery” or “Do not drive a motor vehicle or operate machinery when using this product.”

Other information you might see in the label is how the medicine reacts when taken with other products like alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers, and other effects the OTC medicine could have on you. When you see any of these statements and you’re going to drive or operate machinery, you may want to consider choosing another medicine for your problem this time. Look for an OTC medicine that treats your condition or problem but has an active ingredient or combination of active ingredients that don’t cause drowsiness or affect your ability to drive or operate machinery.

Talk to your healthcare professional if you need help finding another medicine to treat your condition or problem. Then, check the section on “directions” and follow them carefully.

Here are some of the most common OTC medicines that can cause drowsiness or impaired driving:

  • Antihistamines: These are medicines that are used to treat things like runny nose, sneezing, itching of the nose or throat, and itchy or watery eyes. Some antihistamines are marketed to relieve cough due to the common cold. Some are marketed to relieve occasional sleeplessness. Antihistamines also can be added to other active ingredients that relieve cough, reduce nasal congestion, or reduce pain and fever. Some antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, the active ingredient in Benadryl, can make you feel drowsy, unfocused and slow to react.
  • Antidiarrheals: Some antidiarrheals, medicines that treat or control symptoms of diarrhea, can cause drowsiness and affect your driving. One of these is loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium.
  • Anti-emetics: Anti-emetics, medicines that treat nausea, vomiting and dizziness associated with motion sickness, can cause drowsiness and impair driving as well.

“If you don’t read all your medicine labels and choose and use them carefully,” says Dr. Mohamadi, “you can risk your safety. If your driving is impaired, you could risk your safety, and the safety of your passengers and others.”

Please visit, Over-the-Counter Medicines and Driving, for the audio and slide presentation for more about driving and OTC medicines and with practice looking at Drug Facts labels.

This article appears on FDA’s Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

October 7, 2014

 

Kids and the Flu Vaccine

flu The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine.

The CDC states that children should be vaccinated every flu season for the best protection against flu. For children who will need two doses of flu vaccine, the first dose should be given as early in the season as possible. For other children, it is good practice to get them vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, ideally by October. However, getting vaccinated even later can be protective, as long as flu viruses are circulating.

While seasonal influenza outbreaks can happen as early as October, most of the time influenza activity peaks in January or later. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against influenza virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated so they are protected before influenza begins spreading in their community.

The CDC warns that Influenza (“the flu”) is more dangerous than the common cold for children. Each year, many children get sick with seasonal influenza; some of those illnesses result in death.

  • Children commonly need medical care because of influenza, especially before they turn 5 years old.
  • Severe influenza complications are most common in children younger than 2 years old.
  • Children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at especially high risk of developing serious flu complications.
  • Each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of influenza complications.
  • Flu seasons vary in severity, however some children die from flu each year. During the 2013-2014 influenza season, more than 100 flu-related pediatric deaths were reported..

The vaccination is especially important for certain people who are high risk or who are in close contact with high risk persons. This includes those at high risk for developing complications from the flu and adults who are close contacts of those children.

Starting in 2014-2015, CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine (LAIV) for healthy* children 2 through 8 years of age, when it is immediately available and if the child has no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. Recent studies suggest that the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children. However, if the nasal spray vaccine is not immediately available and the flu shot is, children 2 years through 8 years old should get the flu shot. Don’t delay vaccination to find the nasal spray flu vaccine. For more information about the new CDC recommendation, see Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine in Children 2 through 8 Years Old

Backpacks:Can They Cause Back Problems?

backpacksThe Dept of Health and Human Services ran an article on HHS.gov about backpacks.This is what they want you to know about children and adults using backpacks.

Backpacks are a better option than shoulder or messenger bags for carrying books and supplies because the weight of the pack is evenly distributed across your body. However, backpacks that are overloaded or not used properly can make for health problems.

How Can Backpacks Cause Problems?

People who carry heavy backpacks sometimes lean forward. Over time, this can cause the shoulders to become rounded and the upper back to become curved. Because of the heavy weight, there’s a chance of developing shoulder, neck, and back pain.

If you wear your backpack over just one shoulder, or carry your books in a messenger bag, you may end up leaning to one side to offset the extra weight. You might develop lower and upper back pain and strain your shoulders and neck.

Not using a backpack properly can lead to poor posture.

Carrying a heavy pack increases the risk of falling, particularly on stairs or other places where the backpack puts the wearer off balance.

People who carry large packs often aren’t aware of how much space the packs take up and can hit others with their packs when turning around or moving through tight spaces, such as the aisles of the school bus. Students also are injured when they trip over large packs or the packs fall on them.

How Do You Know If a Backpack Is a Problem?

You may need to put less in your pack or carry it differently if:

  • you have to struggle to get your backpack on or off
  • you have to lean forward to carry your pack
  • you have back pain

If you adjust the weight or the way you carry your pack but still have back pain or numbness or weakness in your arms or legs, talk to your doctor.

Tips for Choosing and Using Backpacks

  • Consider the construction. Before you grab that new bag off the rack, make sure it’s got two padded straps that go over your shoulders. The wider the straps, the better. A backpack with a metal frame like the ones hikers use may give you more support (although many lockers aren’t big enough to hold this kind of pack).
  • Carry it well. Before you load your backpack, adjust the straps so the pack sits close to your back. If the pack bumps against your lower back or your butt when you walk, the straps are probably too long. Always pack your backpack with the heaviest items closest to your back. Don’t drop all your stuff in the main compartment (using the side pockets will distribute the weight more evenly).
  • Try a pack with wheels. Lots of kids use these as an alternative to backpacks, but there are guidelines and considerations to keep in mind with this kind of pack, too. Many schools don’t allow rolling packs because people can trip over them in the halls.
  • Limit your load. Doctors and physical therapists recommend that people carry no more than 10% to 15% of their body weight in their packs. This means that if you weigh 120 pounds, your backpack should weigh no more than 12 to 18 pounds. Choosing a lightweight backpack can get you off to a good start. Use your bathroom scale to weigh your backpack and get an idea of what the proper weight for you feels like.
  • Pick it up properly. As with any heavy weight, you should bend at the knees when lifting a backpack to your shoulders.

School Bus Safety

bus

The following tips come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, www.nhtsa.gov, reminding us that young children need frequent reviews about bus safety and bus behavior. Children need to know the Danger Zone, which is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of being hit. Officials from nhtsa suggest:

REVIEWING HOW TO GET ON AND OFF THE BUS SAFELY:

  • When getting on the bus, stay away from the danger zone and wait for the driver’s signal
  • Board the bus one at a time
  • When getting off the bus, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road) and move away from the bus
  • Stay ten feet away from the bus and never go behind the behind the bus
  • Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, or until you can see the driver’s face, then  wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross
  • Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped and keep watching traffic when crossing

TAKE THE FOLLOWING BUS SAFETY STEPS:

  • Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road, and avoid rough play
  • Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he/she drops something near the bus
  • If a child bends down to pick up something, the driver cannot see him/her and the child may be hit by the bus
  • Have your child use a backpack or book bag to keep loose items together
  • Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps, to get caught in the handrail or bus door
  • Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading
  • If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location

REVIEWING BUS RULES:

  • Always stay seated when on the bus
  • Fasten your seat belt, if there are seat belts
  • Don’t put any part of you out the window: arms, head, etc
  • Always talk quietly because loud noises could make driving difficult for the driver
  • There is no eating or drinking on the bus
  • Keep backpacks, books, instruments off the floor. The aisles need to be clear for kids to walk and in case of an emergency
  • Never play with the emergency exits
  • Never throw anything at one another or out the windows when in the bus
  • Be ready to get off the bus when you reach your stop so you don’t keep everyone waiting