To ensure that students of all ages head back to school in the best possible health, the nation's emergency physicians are advising parents and guardians to go through a back-to-school health checklist.
"Many emergency physicians are also parents and understand the stresses of getting kids ready for the new school year," said Dr. David Seaberg, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians. "Clothes, books and school supplies are certainly important, but nothing is more important than making sure your child's health is in check and all of the necessary forms and information are organized and easily available to those who need it."
About 50 million students will head to public and secondary schools this fall, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
- Organize your child's medical history records and emergency medical contact information. Provide copies of this information to your child's school and any day care providers with instructions to take it with them to the emergency department if your child is sick or injured. The form should include information related to prescription medications, medical problems, or previous surgeries as well as pertinent family history and emergency contacts. Free forms can be downloaded at www.emergencycareforyou.org/EmergencyManual/MedicalForms/. An emergency information form is also available for children with special needs. Complete a consent-to-treat form and give copies to the school nurse and any day care providers to keep in your child's record and to take with them if your child should need to go to the emergency department. The form will allow caregivers to authorize medical treatment.
- Coordinate with the school nurse and your child's physician to develop action plans for any health issues, such as asthma or food allergies. Communicate these plans to all appropriate care givers.
- Schedule medical and dental check-ups before school starts. Some children will need immunizations. Consider vision and hearing tests, since impairment can adversely affect learning. Consider a sports check-up if your child will be playing in sports.
- Review and do a dry run with your child of his or her route to school, explaining potential hazards along the way. If your child walks to school, make sure he or she understands potential traffic dangers.
- If your child takes the bus, establish a safe, visible pick up/drop off spot, preferably with a group of children and in an area where they can be clearly seen by adults. If your child drives to school, make sure he or she obeys all laws and wears seatbelts.
- Make sure your children know how to telephone for help. Post emergency contact numbers by every telephone in your home. Have them practice how to call 911 or the local emergency number and give their names, address and a brief description of the problem.
Develop a family emergency plan in case something happens on the way to (or from) and while at school. Be aware of the emergency and evacuation plans for your children's schools.
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.
SOURCE: American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP)