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Health precautions for children during holidays

The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health. Balance work, home, and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook.

Ireh Grace

The children have been on the long vacation, which is a great opportunity to enjoy time with family, celebrate life. The holiday season is a time of joy and excitement for children, but it can also pose dangers for little ones. Holidays are best when they are spent having fun with the kids — not spent in an emergency room or on admission in a hospital. Yet, that’s where thousands of children end up, due to holiday-related injuries and illnesses. Parents especially worry about how to keep their kids from getting sick during the holidays. You can ensure that a child’s holiday season remains merry and bright by taking some proactive measures. Being sick is no fun for anyone, and while we cannot completely prevent these illnesses.

Illness caused by Insects

Most times, insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and ticks infected with parasites spread diseases. Parents should take precaution to protect children from insect and tick bites. Children are particularly at risk of developing severe malaria. Avoid taking children to areas with a risk of malaria. Whether they are taking anti-malarial medication or not, it is very necessary to protect children from mosquito bite.

READ ALSO: Malaria: MSF vaccinates 52, 000 children in Borno

Illness caused by animals

Diseases like rabies can be transmitted from animals to humans. Children are considered at higher risk of rabies because they often play with animals; they are less likely to report bites or scratches and are more likely to be bitten in the head and neck area. Vaccination should be considered for children who are too young to understand either the need to avoid animals or to report contact with animals. Warn children about the dangers of approaching animals; however, they need to be assured that if they do get bitten or scratched, they won’t get in trouble and they should immediately tell an adult. If your child is bitten, scratched, or licked on broken skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose and mouth), it is important to clean the area thoroughly by washing and flushing with soap and water for at least 15 minutes and seek medical assistance immediately to assess the risk and discuss treatment options.

Food and water-borne diseases

Practice safe food and water precautions. Use disinfected water to wash bottles, pacifiers, teething rings, and toys. In addition to eating or drinking contaminated food or drinks, children can get diseases like schistosomiasis and leptospirosis by swimming in freshwater. Children should not swim in any fresh, non-chlorinated water such as ponds or lakes, where these diseases could be transmitted.

Person-to-person infections

Anytime and anywhere kids come in contact with others, there is an increased risk for infection and illness. Children, especially those who have not received all of their vaccinations, are often at a higher risk of getting infections from other people. Caregivers should wash their hands as well as those of their children often. Children should be taught to cover their mouth and nose with toilet tissue when they cough or sneeze. If you don’t have toilet tissue, they can cough or sneeze into their upper sleeve or elbow, not their hands.

Get check-ups and vaccinations regularly

Regular check-ups are important. Exams and screenings can help find potential problems early, when the chances for treatment and cure are often better. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Parents should visit their doctor for needed exams and screenings. Ensure that your child has taken all necessary immunization shots.

READ ALSO: Sokoto intensifies efforts in routine Polio immunization

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids get combination vaccines (rather than single vaccines) whenever possible. Many vaccines are offered in combination to help reduce the number of shots a child receives. The following vaccinations are recommended by the AAP for children;

Wash your hands often

Hand washing is one of the biggest ways to decrease the transmission of infections at school and at home. Keeping the hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent children getting sick and spreading germs to others. Children should wash their hands with soap and clean running water, and rub them together for at least 20 seconds. Parents need to know hand washing rules, be good role models and teach their children these same techniques.

Watch the kids and prevent them from injuries

Children are at high risk for injuries. Keep a watchful eye on your kids when they’re eating and playing. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items,

READ ALSO: Children’s Day: Safety of the Nigerian child is non-negotiable, says Saraki

and other objects out of their reach. Make sure toys are used properly. Develop rules about acceptable and safe behaviors, including using electronic media. Parents should prevent children from injuries because injuries can happen anywhere, and some often occur around the holidays. Children should wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or skateboarding to help prevent head injuries. Protect them from drowning, burns, falls, and other potential accidents. Keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees, and curtains. Never leave fireplaces, stoves, or candles unattended. Don’t use generators, grills, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage.

Handle and prepare food safely

As you prepare holiday meals, keep yourself and your family safe from food-related illnesses. Wash hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs (including their juices) away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Cook foods to the proper temperature. Refrigerate promptly. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.

Stock up on medicines

Make sure you have common household medications, such as fever reducers (acetaminophen and ibuprofen), paracetamols, multivitamins etc, readily at home. They expire just like prescription medications. Take an hour and do an inventory of all the medications you have in your home. Discard expired medications, reorder prescriptions that are nearly empty, and repurchase staple medications such as those for fever and pain so they are accessible when you need them. Place them in key, child- proof locations. Also review the dosages that are age appropriate for your children.

Manage stress

The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health. Balance work, home, and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. Make sure to get proper sleep. Give yourself a break if you feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and out of control. Some of the best ways to manage stress are to find support, connect socially, and get plenty of sleep.

Eat healthy and be active

With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way because a good diet is key to keeping our kids healthy. Things like whole foods instead of processed, less sugar, and more water. Children should eat fruits and vegetables which pack nutrients and help lower the risk for certain diseases. Limit fats, salt, and sugary foods. Eating right will help provide the nutrients needed to have energy, build strong bones, and fight diseases and conditions.

As children grow, help them choose healthy meals and snacks. Pay attention to what and how much they eat. You’ll help them stay on track and may uncover problems of which you were unaware.

Keep them hydrated. Find fun ways to keep the kids active, such as dancing to their favourite holiday music. Help kids and teens be active for at least one hour a day. Include activities that raise their breathing and heart rates as well as strengthen their muscles and bones. Find fun, safe, and active things you can do with your kids to help keep the whole family healthy.


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Tokunbo David
Tokunbo David

Writer and editor.

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