Book bags are replacing beach totes as it quickly becomes time for students to go back to school. Organizing your child’s health information, keeping current with doctor’s appointments and planning for emergency scenarios should be part of every parent’s seasonal routine, the nation’s emergency doctors say.
“We all know about reading, writing and arithmetic. Let’s consider adding a fourth ‘R’ for parents – establishing routine healthy behaviors,” said Paul Kivela, MD, MBA, FACEP, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). “Now is the perfect time to catch up on doctor visits and update your child’s health information. Taking these actions, before an emergency occurs, can help avoid a trip to the ER and possibly save your child’s life.”
Some back to school action items:
- Organize your child’s medical history records and emergency medical contact information.
- Complete a consent-to-treat form. The form authorizes medical treatment and you should give copies to the school nurse and any day care providers. List prescription medications, medical problems, previous surgeries and pertinent family history. Be sure to update your emergency contact information. Free forms can be downloaded at http://www.emergencycareforyou.org/Be-Prepared/Organize-Your-Important-Medical-Information/.
- Work with your school nurse and appropriate care providers to develop action plans for health issues such as asthma or food allergies. Has your child been screened for allergies? Are all vaccines and immunizations current?
- Schedule medical and dental check-ups before school starts or as soon as possible. In addition to a routine physical examination, consider vision and hearing tests, since impairment can adversely affect learning. Consider a sports check-up if your child participates in athletics.
- If your child walks to school or to a bus stop, review the route with them. Be sure to point out traffic dangers or other potential hazards. For bus riders, establish a safe and clearly visible pick up/drop off spot, preferably with a group of children.
- If your child drives to school, make sure he or she obeys all laws and wear seatbelts. Don’t text and drive!
- Make sure your child knows how to call for help in an emergency. Emergency contact numbers should be visible right next to every telephone in your home. Encourage your child to learn when to call 911 and give their name, address and a brief description of the problem.
Avoiding backpacks that are too heavy can prevent back and shoulder injuries. And, packing healthy lunches will help your child develop eating habits that ward off obesity, which contributes to a host of emergency and chronic conditions later in life. Try to encourage a consistent sleep schedule, especially for teens.
More health and safety tips are available at www.emergencycareforyou.org.
ACEP is the national medical specialty society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.