Back-to-School Food Safety Tips

tipsThe following back-to-school  food safety tips are shared by Marianne Gravely, Food Safety Technical Information Specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

These tips can make all the difference in keeping foods safe from the time they leave your home until your child eats them in school. Following these tips will prevent foodborne illnesses.

Back to school, back to the books, back in the saddle or back in the car for all the parents. The new school year means its back to packing lunches and after-school snacks for students, scouts, athletes, dancers, and all the other children who carry these items to and from home. One ‘back’ you do not want to reacquaint children with, however, is Bacteria.

Bacteria that cause foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In just two hours, these microorganisms can multiply to dangerous levels, which can cause foodborne illness. To make sure lunches and snacks are safe for those you pack for, you should follow the USDA’s four steps to food safety: Clean – Separate – Cook – and Chill.

Packing Tips

  • If the lunch/snack contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two cold sources.  Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly so perishable food transported without an ice source won’t stay safe long.
  • Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze these items overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack. By lunchtime, the liquids should be thawed and ready to drink.
  • Pack lunches containing perishable food in an insulated lunchbox or soft-sided lunch bag. Perishable food can be unsafe to eat by lunchtime if packed in a paper bag.
  • If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot – 140 °F or above.
  • If packing a child’s lunch the night before, parents should leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because everything will be refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.
  • If you’re responsible for packing snack for the team, troop, or group, keep perishable foods in a cooler with ice or cold packs until snack time. Pack snacks in individual bags or containers, rather than having children share food from one serving dish.

Storage Tips

  • If possible, a child’s lunch should be stored in a refrigerator or cooler with ice upon arrival. Leave the lid of the lunchbox or bag open in the fridge so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.

Eating and Disposal Tips

  • Pack disposable wipes for washing hands before and after eating.
  • After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.

 


Walking Safety Tips

Safe Kids USA asks you to follow the tips below to make sure you keep your children safe while they are walking to and from school. Reviewing these tips regularly with your children can play an important role in keeping them safe.

 tips

Tips for Walkers

  • Developmentally, most kids can’t judge speeds and distances until at least age 10, so younger kids need to cross the street with an adult
  • Did you know most walking injuries happen mid-block or someplace other than intersections? Whenever possible, cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, and keep looking and listening while crossing
  • Walk, don’t run, when crossing the street
  • It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths, but if there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible
  • Remove headphones when crossing the street
  • If you need to use your phone, stop walking
  • Distraction among drivers is at an all-time high today, so try to make eye contact with the driver before you step into the road

 For more road safety and walking tips go to www.safekids.org

Keeping Kids Safe as They Go Back to School

 As another school year begins, the American Red Cross suggests steps that everyone can take to make the trip back to school safer.

“When kids go back to school, parents should make sure the child knows his or her home phone number and address, parents’ work contact information, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1,” said Dr. David Markenson, chair of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council and pediatric expert.

“Parents should also teach their children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know,” Markenson added.

Bus Safety

If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Other safety steps for students include:

  • Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has instructed you to get on.
  • Only board your bus and never an alternate one.
  • Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
  • Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
  • Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.

Motorists should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean:

  • Yellow flashing lights — the bus is getting ready to stop, and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop.
  • Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign — the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.

Driving

If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

If a teenager is going to drive to school, parents should mandate that they use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.

All drivers should be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones.

schoolBiking and Walking

Students who ride their bike to school should always wear a helmet, obey all traffic signs and ride on the right in the same direction as traffic.

Those who walk to school should only cross the street at an intersection, and use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards. Parents should walk young children and children taking new routes or attending new schools at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Thereafter, arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.

Take a Red Cross First Aid and CPR/AED course so you’ll have the knowledge and skills to act if an injury or emergency happens. You can also download the free Red Cross First Aid app so you’ll always have first aid information at your fingertips.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or their blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

 

What’s the Deal with Summer Sniffles?

Summer colds are so annoying! What causes them? The National Institutes of Health sheds light on summer colds, what causes them and what, if anything, can be done about them.

summerMost everyone looks forward to summer—time to get away, get outside and have some fun. So what could be more unfair than catching a cold when it’s warm? How can cold symptoms arise when it’s not cold and flu season? Is there any way to dodge the summer sniffles?

Cold symptoms can be caused by more than 200 different viruses. Each can bring the sneezing, scratchy throat and runny nose that can be the first signs of a cold. The colds we catch in winter are usually triggered by the most common viral infections in humans, a group of germs called rhinoviruses. Rhinoviruses and a few other cold-causing viruses seem to survive best in cooler weather. Their numbers surge in September and begin to dwindle in May.

During summer months, the viral landscape begins to shift. “Generally speaking, summer and winter colds are caused by different viruses,” says Dr. Michael Pichichero, a pediatrician and infectious disease researcher at the Rochester General Hospital Research Institute in New York. “When you talk about summer colds, you’re probably talking about a non-polio enterovirus infection.”

Enteroviruses can infect the tissues in your nose and throat, eyes, digestive system and elsewhere. A few enteroviruses can cause polio, but vaccines have mostly eliminated these viruses from Western countries. Far more widespread are more than 60 types of non-polio enteroviruses. They’re the second most common type of virus—after rhinovirus—that infects humans. About half of people with enterovirus infections don’t get sick at all. But nationwide, enteroviruses cause an estimated 10 million to 15 million illnesses each year, usually between June and October.

Enteroviruses can cause a fever that comes on suddenly. Body temperatures may range from 101 to 104 °F. Enteroviruses can also cause mild respiratory symptoms, sore throat, headache, muscle aches and gastrointestinal issues like nausea or vomiting.

“All age groups can be affected, but like most viral infections, enterovirus infections predominate in childhood,” says Pichichero. Adults may be protected from enterovirus infections if they’ve developed antibodies from previous exposures. But adults can still get sick if they encounter a new type of enterovirus.

Less common enteroviruses can cause other symptoms. Some can lead to conjunctivitis, or pinkeye—a swelling of the outer layer of the eye and eyelid. Others can cause an illness with rash. In rare cases, enteroviruses can affect the heart or brain.

To prevent enterovirus infections, says Pichichero, “it’s all about blocking viral transmission.” The viruses travel in respiratory secretions, like saliva or mucus, or in the stool of an infected person. You can become infected by direct contact. Or you might pick up the virus by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, such as a telephone, doorknob or baby’s diaper. “Frequent hand washing and avoiding exposure to people who are sick with fever can help prevent the spread of infection,” says Pichichero.

The summer colds caused by enteroviruses generally clear up without treatment within a few days or even a week. But see a health care provider if you have concerning symptoms, like a high fever or a rash.

TV Viewing and Young Children

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has published several articles about TV time for young children from the amount of time spent watching TV, to what is being watched and where it is being watched.

TV

The AAP published the findings of a study by Dr. Michelle Garrison, Kimberly Liekweg, and Dr. Dimitri Christakis from Seattle Children’s on what effects watching violence on TV has on preschoolers. They studied over 600 children between 3 and 5 years of age and reviewed their media diaries.

Their findings:

  • Preschoolers watched on average over an hour of TV daily (72.9 min) with the minority being at bedtime (14 min after 7pm).
  • Children with a bedroom TV watched 40 more minutes of TV than those without one.
  • Children with a bedroom TV watched more TV after 7pm.
  • Children with a bedroom TV were more likely to have parent-reported daytime tiredness (8% vs 1% without bedroom TV).
  • Children were more likely to have trouble falling asleep, have more nightmares, and more awakenings if in the 1 hour prior to going to bed, if they watched TV, violent or not.
  • Fortunately, nonviolent daytime TV didn’t seem to change or impair preschoolers’ sleep.
  • It didn’t make a difference on sleep if parents watched TV alongside their children.

While we know that a TV, once in the bedroom, is hard to remove, we also know it is harder for a parent to monitor what is being watched. It can also be turned on in the early am, while the rest of the house is still sleeping, which leads to even more daily viewing time.

We also know that children also pick up additional viewing  time in some child care settings

The AAP guidelines  recommend no TV viewing before age 2 and then after age 2, only 2 hours maximum screen time daily.