It’s time to think about ways to keep your children healthy and safe this school year. Vaccinations, eye exams, bike helmets, and healthy snacks are at the top of the back-to-school health tip list.
Backpack alert! Harmful Tobacco Products Disguised as Teens’ USB Sticks and More
In New Jersey, it’s illegal to smoke or possess any tobacco product on any school property-for anyone, any age, any time-indoors and outdoors. This state law includes electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products, which covers all forms and brands of e-cigarettes and “vaping” devices. School administrators, teachers, and parents nationwide are on alert for heightened teen use of highly addictive ENDS devices that can go undetected by adults when disguised like everyday items. A growing number of ENDS products resemble USB computer memory sticks and are available in kid-friendly, trendy, or fruity flavors. One top-selling brand is known as “Juul”, which carries high doses of nicotine. Other disguised ENDS products might resemble asthma inhalers, hoodie draw strings, gas masks, mint tins, beverage containers, simple writing pens, and other common household items. To learn more, visit: Quick Facts on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults | CDC
Set a good example and promote good health habits for children by eating healthily and being physically active. Provide healthy options for your child’s meals and snacks at school. For healthy snack ideas visit: Smart Snacks and School Vending Machines | Healthy Schools | CDC
Make sure that your child has received all the immunizations that are required for school entry. Children need certain immunizations before entry into pre-k, kindergarten, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 12th grade. For a complete immunization schedule, visit: Recommended Child and Adolescent Immunization Schedule (cdc.gov)
Every child should have a complete eye exam by age three. Serious eye diseases such as Amblyopia (lazy eye) or strabismus (crossed eyes) are correctable with eye patches or surgery if caught early.
When you send your child off to school, remember to pack food safely. Before preparing lunch, wash your hands, fresh fruit, and vegetables. When packing perishable foods, put hot foods in an insulated container and put cold foods next to an ice pack. For healthy lunch tips, visit: Making Time for School Lunch | Healthy Schools | CDC
For food safety tips, visit: Keeping “Bag” Lunches Safe | Food Safety and Inspection Service (usda.gov)
School Bus Safety
For thousands of New Jersey students, the school day begins and ends with a trip on a school bus. The greatest risk is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving the bus. Before children go back to school or start school for the first time, it is essential that adults and children know traffic safety rules. To learn more, visit: Kids the School Bus and You – DOT HS 808 423 (nhtsa.gov)
September brings an increase in car trips to school, lessons, and sports practices. Safety experts recommend that all children under age 13 ride in the rear seat. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (e.g. a carpool), move the front passenger seat back as far as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts don’t fit properly without it. To learn more, visit: Child Passenger Safety | Transportation Safety | Injury Center | CDC
Walking has great health benefits, but a walk to school should be safe. Learn how you can help your child be the safest pedestrian possible. To learn more, visit: Pedestrian Safety: Prevent Pedestrian Crashes | NHTSA
Be sure your child wears a properly fitted bicycle helmet and follows a safe route when riding to and from school.
Make sure children are not having back pain because of carrying a backpack to school. Look for backpacks with individual compartments and put heaviest items closest to the body. Sharp objects like pencils should be in smaller pockets on the outside. School back packs should have two shoulder straps and your child should use both. To learn more, visit: Backpack Safety – HealthyChildren.org
Schools should be safe and supportive environments. New Jersey’s anti-bullying laws prohibits harassment, intimidation, or bullying that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical, or sensory disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic. To learn more, visit: New Jersey Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies | StopBullying.gov