(September 13, 2010) Sellersville, PA – With students back in school, safety should be on every family’s assignment list. Parents can help keep youngsters safe and healthy by following these safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Deborah Faccenda, MD, of Pennridge Pediatrics.
The safest backpack style has wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back. It is best to pack light and organize the backpack to use all of its compartments, with heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of a child’s body weight. Encourage use of both shoulder straps as carrying a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.
TRAVELING TO AND FROM SCHOOL
Whether by car, bus, bike, or walking, the minute a child leaves the home, safety becomes a concern. Review the basic rules with your youngster.
Tell your child to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching it from the curb. If the school bus has seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times. Tell your child to check to see that no traffic is coming before crossing the street. Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
Encourage bike riders to follow these safety precautions:
- Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
- Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
- Use appropriate hand signals.
- Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
- Wear bright color clothing to increase visibility.
- Know the rules of the road.
Walking to School
Make sure your child takes a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection. Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision. Bright colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.
Many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. Insist on seat belts, limit the number of teen passengers, do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations or texting; and limit driving during nighttime and in inclement weather.
EATING DURING THE SCHOOL DAY
Most schools send cafeteria menu schedules home, or post this information to a school website. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat. “Packing lunches also makes it possible for you to control what your child eats at school,” advises Dr. Faccenda. “Childhood overweight and obesity is a significant problem today. You can help your child by modeling healthy eating and activity behaviors.” Offer plenty of healthy choices such as fresh fruit, low-fat dairy products, and water. Each 12-ounce soft drink contains approximately 10 teaspoons of sugar and 150 calories. Drinking just one can of soda a day increases a child's risk of obesity by 60 percent. Restrict soda, juice and other sugary drink consumption.
Many resources are available on children’s health through pediatricians, schools, and communities, and reliable websites, such as www.aap.org (American Academy of Pediatrics), www.letsmove.gov (White House Obesity Initiative), and www.mypyramid.gov (food pyramid and nutrition information).
Grand View Hospital, Bucks County’s first hospital, has provided residents of Bucks and Montgomery Counties with comprehensive health care services since 1913. Grand View offers a range of care – particularly emphasizing the areas of cancer treatment, women's and children's health, surgery, orthopaedics, and heart care. Learn more about Grand View Hospital, its services, and lectures, events, classes, and screenings for the community by visiting www.gvh.org.