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over 2 years ago

Back-to-school health and safety tips

The following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).


Is your child registered? When is the first day of school? What time does school start? What time is lunch? Can your child buy it at school, and how much will it cost? Will she need a snack? Have you filled out all the health forms or emergency contact forms that have been sent home? Have any new health problems developed in your child over the summer that will affect her school day? Does the school nurse know about this condition, or is an appointment set up to discuss it? If your child needs to take medication at school on the first day, have arrangements been made for this? Does your youngster know where she is going after school (e.g., home, babysitter)? Does she know how she will get there? If you will not be there when she arrives, does she know who will be responsible for her, what the rules are, and how to get help in an emergency?


Remind your child that she is not the only student who is a bit uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible. Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun. She’ll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her memory about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time. Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your youngster can walk to school or ride with on the bus. If you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.


Choosing the right backpack. Look for the following:

Wide, padded shoulder straps – Narrow straps can dig into shoulders. This can cause pain and restrict circulation. Padded back – A padded back protects against sharp edges on objects inside the pack and increases comfort. To prevent injury when using a backpack, do the following:

Pack light. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s body weight. Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles. Wearing a backpack on one shoulder may increase curvature of the spine. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. Use a rolling backpack. This type of backpack may be a good choice for students who must tote a heavy load. Remember that rolling backpacks still must be carried upstairs. And they may be difficult to roll in snow. For additional information:


If possible, give your teen three months’ notice before an upcoming move, so that he has time to absorb the news and get used to the idea. Explain the reason for relocating. Familiarize your child with her new neighborhood or home town ahead of time. If it’s within driving distance, give him several grand tours. Emphasize the positive aspects of the move. Contact the school your teenager will be attending. If you live nearby, arrange a day and time to visit. Some schools have established a “buddy system” to help newly transferred students adjust socially.


If your child is avoiding school, and has anxiety about returning:

Talk to your child about why he doesn’t want to go to school. Contact the principal, guidance counselor and school nurse, and make them aware of the situation. After you’ve taken steps to rectify the upsetting circumstances, insist that your child return to school immediately. Severe phobias may require a gradual reentry to school. After five days of anxiety-related absences from school, it’s time to visit your pediatrician.


Review the basic bus safety rules with your youngster:

Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb. Do not move around on the bus. Check to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing. Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.


Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework. Youngsters need a permanent work space in their bedroom or another part of the home that offers privacy. Set aside ample time for homework. Establish a household rule that the TV set stays off during homework time. Be available to answer questions and offer assistance. But never do a child’s homework for her. To help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying, it’s recommended that youngsters close the books for 10 minutes every hour and go do something else. If your child is struggling with a particular subject, and you aren’t able to help her yourself, a tutor can be a good solution. Talk it over with your child’s teacher first.


Most schools regularly send schedules of cafeteria menus home. With this advance information, you can plan on packing lunch on the days when the main course is one your child prefers not to eat. Schools will be stocking vending machines with healthier choices. Talk with your child about making healthy choices when purchasing snacks. Vending machines choices can also be modified to eliminate high-fat and empty-calorie munchies and provide healthy snacks that include more fresh fruit and low-fat dairy products, as well as water and 100 percent fruit juice instead of sodas. 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%. Restrict your child’s soft drink consumption.


During middle childhood, youngsters need supervision. A responsible adult should be available to get them ready and off to school in the morning and watch over them after school until you return home from work. Children approaching adolescence (the 11-and 12-year olds) should not come home to an empty house in the afternoon unless they show unusual maturity for their age. If alternative adult supervision is not available, parents should make special efforts to supervise their children from a distance. Children should have a set time when they are expected to arrive at home and should check in with a neighbor or with a parent by telephone. When evaluating child-care options, determine whether other family members can handle these responsibilities. For example, does a grandparent or other relative live nearby, and is he or she available and willing to help? If you choose a commercial after-school program, inquire about the training of the staff. There should be a high staff-to-child ratio, and the rooms and the playground should be safe.


Set limits on the amount of TV your child watches. Be firm. Limit children’s TV viewing to an hour or two daily. Hide the remote. Eliminate channel surfing which encourages passive viewing. Keep TV’s out of your youngster’s bedroom. Children should watch their favorite shows in a central area of the home. Whenever possible, record programs and watch them later. Fast forwarding through commercials will shave ten minutes off of every hour of TV viewing. Discourage repeated viewings of the same video. The graphic language, violence and sexual content of movies rated PG-13 and R can have a cumulative effect on a child if they’re watched over and over again. Harness the power of television in a positive way. TV can be a valuable tool for learning and expanding one’s awareness of the world. Make use of ratings systems to know whether or not a program or movie is appropriate for your child.


Give your child a sense of confidence. This is the best defense against peer pressure. Listen to what your child says. Pay attention and be helpful during periods of loneliness or doubt. Know who your child’s friends are and make a point to get to know them. Provide parental supervision. Don’t allow your teen to attend parties where alcohol is being served. Insist that a parent be present at parties to supervise. Offer a “free call home”. Drinking and driving may lead to death. Let him know that he can call home without fear of consequences that night. Discuss the incident the next day. Help your child learn to handle strong emotions and feelings. Talk about things that are important issues for your child, including alcohol, drugs and the need for peer-group acceptance. Join your child in learning all you can about preventing alcohol abuse. If talking with your teenager about alcohol is difficult, your pediatrician may be able to help open the lines of communication.

© 2004 – American Academy of Pediatrics

Cold Weather Advisory

When temperatures plummet, its important tor think about the dangers of exposure to cold conditions. Exposure to cold temperatures, whether indoors or outside, can cause serious or life-threatening health problems. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk, but anyone can be affected. Extreme cold provides a dangerous situation that can result in health emergencies in susceptible people, such as those without shelter or who are stranded, or who live in a home that is poorly insulated or without heat.

“Taking preventive action is the best defense against extreme cold-weather conditions,” said Bill Edstrom Epidemiologist for the Spokane Regional Health District. “By preparing for winter emergencies, the risks of weather-related health problems can be reduced. Knowing what to do is an important part of protecting your health and the health of others.”

When winter temperatures drop significantly below normal, staying warm and safe can become a challenge. To avoid hypothermia and frostbite the following steps should be taken:

Limit exposure
*       When the weather is extremely cold, and especially if there are high winds, try to stay indoors. Make any trips outside as brief as possible.

Dress Warmly and Stay Dry
*       Adults and children should wear several layers of water-resistant, loose-fitting clothing along with a hat, mittens or gloves, and a scarf or knit mask to cover face and mouth. Wet clothing chills the body rapidly. Excess sweating will increase heat loss, so remove extra layers of clothing whenever you feel too warm.

Plan Ahead
*       Have emergency supply kits for home and office
*       Avoid prolonged exposure to the cold; seek a warm shelter
*       Prepare your home for winter

Monitor Body Temperature
*       Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room, because (1) infants lose body heat more easily than adults; and (2) unlike adults, infants can’t make enough body heat by shivering. Provide warm clothing for infants and try to maintain a warm indoor temperature. If the temperature cannot be maintained, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.

Check on vulnerable people
*       Check on elderly friends and neighbors frequently to ensure that their homes are adequately heated.
*       Homeless people should seek shelter; outreach workers should monitor clients for exposure to the cold

Eat and Drink Wisely
*       Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages-they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to help maintain your body temperature. If you have any dietary restrictions, talk to your doctor.

Avoid Exertion
*       Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. If you have heart disease or high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the cold. Otherwise, if you have to do heavy outdoor chores, dress warmly and work slowly. Remember, your body is already working hard just to stay warm, so don’t overdo it.

Understand Wind Chill
*       The Wind Chill index is the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with wind speed. It is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by the effects of wind and cold. As the speed of the wind increases, it can carry heat away from your body much more quickly, causing skin temperature to drop. When there are high winds, serious weather-related health problems are more likely, even when temperatures are only cool.

Serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold. The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite.

With prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, your body can begin to lose heat faster than it can be produced. The result is hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature. Body temperature that is too low affects the brain, making the victim unable to think clearly or move well. This makes hypothermia particularly dangerous because a person may not know it is happening. Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F) if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.

Victims of hypothermia are often (1) elderly people with inadequate food, clothing, or heating; (2) babies sleeping in cold bedrooms; (3) people who remain outdoors for long periods-the homeless, hikers, hunters, etc.; and (4) people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs.

Recognizing the warnings signs of hypothermia:
*       Adults: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, drowsiness
*       Infants: bright red, cold skin, very low energy

What to do if you notice any of these signs:
Hypothermia is a serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance. Take the person’s temperature; if it is below 95°, the situation is an emergency-get medical attention immediately. If medical care is not available, begin warming the person, as follows: Get the victim into a warm room or shelter. If the victim has on any wet clothing, remove it. Warm the center of the body first-chest, neck, head, and groin-using an electric blanket, if available. Use skin-to-skin contact under loose, dry layers of blankets, clothing, towels, or sheets.

Frostbite is an injury to the body caused by freezing. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

Recognizing frostbite
*       White or grayish-yellow skin area
*       Skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, numbness (a victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb).

What to do about frostbite:
At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin-frostbite may be beginning. If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. If (1) there is frostbite but no sign of hypothermia and (2) immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows: Get into a warm room as soon as possible. Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes.
Immerse the affected area in warm-not hot-water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body). Or, warm the affected area using body heat, for example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers. Do not rub the frostbitten area or massage it at all. Don’t use a heating pad or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.

These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Hypothermia is a medical emergency and frostbite should be evaluated by a health care provider.

Another risk during cold weather is that of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can happen during power outages when people attempt to heat their environments with sources of heat not intended for indoor space heating purposes. More information on carbon monoxide poisoning and extreme cold can be found at:


Organization Links for Parents

Disease and Organization Links 

There is much information available to help protect your child’s learning from being impacted by health concerns.  We want to work with you to help your child at school.  Contact your school nurse if you have any concerns that need to be addressed.

These resources are available on the internet.  Inclusion of these resources on this web page does not represent endorsement by the Riverside School District.

Medical Resources

Professional Links

Diseases and Prevention

Professional Organizations

National Association of School Nurses The National Association of School Nurses improves the health and educational success of children and youth by developing and providing leadership to advance school nursing practice. Position statements and links are available.

School Nurse Web Sites

Special Health Needs

School Health Forms


Medication Request Form/Medication Orders
If your child requires medications daily or as needed at school, please have your licensed health care provider fill out a medication request form.

Self-Medication_FormSelf-Medication Form
For non-prescription medications for a temporary 14 day period

Allergy History and Emergency Care plans.

Asthma history and emergency care plan

Certificate Immunization Status Form 348-013

School Chart 2013-2014 Form 348-051

© 2013 Riverside School D
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