After School Food Safety

foodThe kitchen, for food, is often the first place children go when they get home from school, but it’s not always the safest place. Millions of children become ill from the food they eat.

Here are some food safety recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to share with children to help keep them safe after school. When coming home after school, kids can help prevent illnesses by following these recommendations:

  1. Place books, bags, and sporting equipment on the floor, not on eating counters or the kitchen table where germs could be transferred.
  2. Clean out lunch boxes and throw away perishable sandwiches or other “refrigerator type” foods, such as yogurt tubes or cheese sticks, left over from lunch.
  3. Wash your hands before you make or eat a snack. Hands carry lots of germs, and not washing hands is a top cause of foodborne illness.
  4. Always use clean spoons, forks, and plates.
  5. Wash fruits and vegetables with running tap water before you eat them.
  6. Do not eat bread, cheese, or soft fruits or vegetables that are bruised or have spots of mold.
  7. Do not eat unbaked cookie dough because it may contain raw eggs that can have Salmonella bacteria.
  8. Do not leave cold items, like milk, lunchmeat, hard cooked eggs, or yogurt, out on the counter at room temperature. Put these foods back in the refrigerator as soon as you’ve fixed your snack.
  9. Don’t eat any perishable food left out of the refrigerator, such as pizza — even if it isn’t topped with meat. Food should not be left in the temperature “Danger Zone” of 40 to 140 °F for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is 90 °F or higher).

Heating or cooking foods in microwave ovens can present food safety and personal safety challenges. Some foods do not heat evenly to destroy all bacteria that could be present. Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Read package directions carefully. An adult needs to tell children whether to use the minimum or maximum cooking time on food package directions.
  2. Use only microwave-safe cookware. Don’t put metal or foil-wrapped foods in the microwave. Never microwave food in cold storage containers, such as margarine tubs, cottage cheese cartons, or bowls from frozen whipped topping. The containers can melt and transfer harmful chemicals into the food.
  3. For more even cooking and to better destroy bacteria, cover a dish of food with a lid, plastic wrap, or wax paper. Turn up one corner to let excess steam escape while food is microwaving.
  4. Halfway through cooking, rotate food packages and dishes or stir food during microwaving — even if the oven has a turntable. This helps the food cook more evenly and safely.

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More Families are Choosing Family Practitioners

family physicianMore and more families are choosing to have a family practitioner as their family health care provider.

Who are family practitioners? They are doctors who, following medical school, complete a three-year residency where they are trained to care for  patient populations that range from infants to the elderly in a variety of different medical areas. For instance, family practitioners are trained in bone and joint care; ear, nose and throat care; chronic conditions; emergency care and minor surgeries; behavioral and mental health; and eye care.

One of the primary responsibilities of family practitioners is to maintain their patients’ overall health. They often see their patients over the course of many years, unlike emergency doctors or surgeons who treat individuals for short periods of time. Because of this, general practitioners can build a lasting relationship with their patients and have a better understanding of their medical needs.

According to familydoctor.org, primary care physicians lower health care costs and death rates among their patients who regularly see them for preventive care and illnesses. Family practitioners, for example, can provide their patients with personal treatment plans and determine disease risk factors according to their medical histories. Also, for many individuals, family doctors are the first point of contact when they are ill. So family doctors can assess and treat most illness like respiratory infections, accidents like broken bones or diseases like asthma.

Family practitioners’ work environment can vary according to their geographic location and the size of the office. For example, family practice doctors can work in small and large cities or practice in rural areas. If they practice in the latter location, they might be the only family practitioner to treat all of the residents in a particular area. Also, family doctors can own their own practices, work at a large practice, in clinics or for government agencies.

Although family practitioners are trained to treat a broad range of medical problems, there are situations and conditions that they will not be able to treat. In these instances, it is the responsibility of the family practitioner to refer the patient to a specialist who can address the specific problem or condition.

 

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“Can Do” Street: A Place for Many Kinds of Families, Diversity and Disability Inclusion

familiesOn “Can Do” Street there are many kinds of families. There is racial diversity. It is an inclusive environment; a place where differences don’t matter.

Nellie and Willie live with their grandparents while their mom is in the military. They are just one of the many kinds of families on “Can Do” Street.

Jay lives with his parents but he spends summers with his grandparents in Dakota on the Indian reservation where they live. His tribe, the Chippewa Indians of Turtle Mountain, is also considered his family. So, you could say he has two families.

Hector and Maria’s parents both work. They participate in an after school program at the community center until their mom picks them up on her way home from work. Yundi and Wendy’s parents travel for business so they live part of the week with Grandma Sue.

Orrie, Annie, Bobby and Arthur Jay live with their mom and dad in a house next door to Grandma Maureen and Grandpa John.

There are 14 child characters on “Can Do” Street, three of whom have physical disabilities and one has a learning disability. Orrie uses a wheelchair. He is a computer wiz kid. He is active in sports, playing basketball, swimming, and horseback riding. Having Grandma Maureen and Grandpa John  next door is important to Orrie and his mom and dad. They are a big help with Orrie.

Nellie and Willie have a cousin, Mickey, who is visually disabled. He goes to a special school where he gets the help he needs to be independent. He has a service dog named Muggins. He comes home to his mom and dad, who live on “Can Do” Street, on holidays and for the summer. He plays the saxophone.

Annie has a hearing disability, so she wears a hearing aid. She is captain of the school Pee Wee basketball team.  Maria has a learning disability and needs extra help with reading, which she gets in school. She loves to draw and use graphics programs on the computer.

Having characters that are racially diverse, and include children with disabilities as well as different kinds of families is meant to raise a young child’s awareness of people and living situations different than his or her own. It also provides content and characters that can be used to teach disability sensitivity and cultural diversity.

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Holiday Travel with Young Children

travelIt’s that time again…time to travel and visit with family and friends over the school holiday.

It’s time to think of ways to keep the kids comfortable and occupied during long trips. It’s time to prepare for the “just in case situation” which always seem to occur when we travel, such as motion sickness.

How to prepare for long car trips:

  • If you’re going by car, plan a travel route with stops where your children can get out of the car and run around and blow off some steam from being cooped up in the car. Good places are parks and child play areas.
  •  Get to where you are staying overnight early, before the kids get overtired, hungry and cranky.
  • Pack some hand sanitizer as it’s a good alternative for hand washing if soap and water aren’t available at a toilet rest stop.
  • Try to make your meal stops a little before the usual lunch or dinner rush hour – you’ll get better service and it won’t take quite so long.

What to take

Apart from the items you’d normally take on a trip, it can be helpful to take extra things just for car travel. Here are some ideas:

  • Paper towels or wipes can be used in lots of ways.
  • Take empty plastic bags for rubbish, dirty clothes and dirty diapers
  • Take a change of clothes for each child. Depending on the season, you might also want to take hats or something warm to put on.
  • Some families take an old ice cream container for accidents of any kind. It can also work as a potty if your child hasn’t been toilet trained for long and there are no toilets around.
  • If you have a child who wets the bed, take a piece of plastic to protect mattresses.
  • Take a bag of things to do on the trip
  • Take some healthy food, such as fruit, to snack on.
  • Bring water to drink, and try to avoid too many soft drinks. Small plastic water bottles with pop-tops can be very good for young children.

Bus or train travel

  • Traveling on a bus or train can be very exciting for young children. But long trips can pose similar challenges to long car trips, as children can become bored with the scenery and of being stuck in a confined space. So, be sure to bring  food, drink, toys and books as you would for car travel.

Air travel

Things to consider when travel is by plane:

  • If you’re going overseas, check with your doctor in advance so you can all get the vaccinations you need.
  • Dress children lightly for air travel, and check that you can get blankets from the cabin staff if needed. Layers of clothes that you can take on and off are a good idea.
  • Some airlines are better at supporting parents traveling with children. It can be helpful to ask other parents about which airlines they preferred to fly with.
  • If you’re able to organize the timing so your trip back home happens during night time, you’re more likely not to disturb your children’s sleep pattern.
  •  If you have a toddler, it can be handy to take a fold-up stroller for him to sit in at airports.

Seating
If you’re traveling with a baby you can ask to have a bulkhead seat, which gives you more leg room and a place for a bassinet. There may already be a bassinet in the bulkhead, but check with the airline when booking – you might have to bring your own, and a size and weight limit applies. Bassinets also offer a place for your baby to sit while you have your meal, or when you just want a break from holding  him or her.

Airline staff
When the airline staff ask at the start of your flight if you’ll need any help, tell them you’ll need a hand to heat bottles and/or solids, and that you might need help at meal times so you can eat.

Toys
Pack a comfort or cuddle toy your child likes for the plane trip. Small toys – such as little dolls, cars, trucks and trains – are good for playing on the tray top.

Some children are more prone to travel sickness than others.

What to do to avoid travel sickness

  • Before leaving, don’t eat fatty foods, but do eat something – it seems worse on an empty stomach.
  • Encourage those with travel sickness to look outside the vehicle, not inside. They shouldn’t look at moving things, like other cars – instead, they should try to look at something that’s still, such as the same spot on the horizon.
  • Make sure there’s a breeze and fresh air – it’s a good idea to have the window open a little bit.
  • Don’t read in a moving vehicle.
  • Some people find that keeping their head as still as possible can help.
  • Try to distract travel sick children by getting them to think about other things.
  • If your child goes pale, gets very quiet or complains of feeling sick, stop and let her have a walk in the fresh air.
  • Speak to your doctor about medicines for travel sickness
  • If your children are often sick, take a container, wipes, a towel and a change of clothes in case of accidents.

Source: Child and Youth Health

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Scooter Safety

scooter

Scooters have stood the test of time, with each generation enjoying scooters in one form or another. A scooter can be great fun…a speedy way to get around. Today, there are even scooters for toddlers!

Kids need to practice scooter safety; accidents are on the rise. Over one third of all scooter accidents occur in children under eight years of age.

With the promise of fun comes the reminder that scooter safety is a very important consideration.

 Scooter safety for young children is best summed up as follows:

  • A helmet, knee pads and elbow pads must be worn whenever a child rides a scooter. No matter if it is summer and hot or they are just going a short distance
  • Children under eight must be supervised when riding a scooter.
  • Scooters need to be ridden on smooth, paved surfaces schoolyards, parks and sidewalks
  • Riders must remember that the street is not a safe place to ride.
  • If they ride on sidewalks, people walking on the sidewalk have the right of way.

To insure scooter safety, children need to learn how to scoot from an adult, just as they do for bike riding and skateboarding.

 

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