For many students, spring break is right around the corner. Whether it’s a trip abroad, staying home or exploring local spots, there are several ways to keep children’s health and safety a top priority.
For parents planning a trip with children there are a few recommendations to consider so everyone returns home safely and is ready to head back to the classroom.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you do not travel until you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines,” explained Dr. Abby Smolcich, Pediatrician with ThedaCare Physicians-Darboy. “Being up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines includes getting an additional dose for individuals who are immunocompromised or booster doses when eligible.”
Dr. Smolcich noted that families who are traveling out of the area should understand the COVID-19 community level for your destination, which can help you decide which prevention steps are most important to keep you and your loved ones safe.
“Many areas have recently updated health and safety guidelines for COVID-19,” she said. “At this time, masking is still required on public transportation, but that could change. We would recommend to travelers be patient, adaptable and prepared.”
The CDC released new guidelines based on low, medium and high-risk areas. It also states the importance of knowing one’s own risk to severe illness.
“If you’re immunocompromised or at high-risk for severe illness, the CDC is recommending you wear a mask if out in areas of higher COVID-19 rates,” she said. “Before traveling, it might be a good idea to chat with your primary care provider to discuss additional precautions that you might need to take to protect yourself and others.”
You should not travel if are experiencing any of the following:
- You are sick.
- You tested positive for COVID-19.
- Do not travel until a full 10 days after your symptoms started or the date your positive test was taken if you had no symptoms.
- You are waiting for results of a COVID-19 test.
- You had close contact with a person with COVID-19 and are recommended to quarantine.
If you are traveling to a warmer destination, sunscreen safety is important. Dr. Smolcich also noted that if your children are staying closer to home for spring break, it might also be a good time to think about sun safety as well. With the unpredictability of Wisconsin weather in the spring time, sunscreen might be needed.
Babies under 6 months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight and dress in light-colored, thin clothing to keep cool and use hats to protect their eyes from sunlight. When it comes to kids using sunscreen, use a waterproof one and reapply often. If your child develops a rash or skin irritation, your child may be allergic to a certain type of sunscreen and you’ll want to talk with your pediatrician for a recommendation.
“When choosing a sunscreen, be sure to look for the words “broad-spectrum” on the label,” explained Dr. Smolcich. “That means the sunscreen will screen out both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) rays.”
Wearing sunscreen and reapplying often is the best way to prevent sunburn while out in the sun. Sunburn can appear within a few hours after sun exposure and will take time to heal.
“Your body may start to heal itself before you even return from vacation by peeling the top layer of skin which has the sun damage,” she said. “But a bad sunburn can take several days to heal, so wear your sunscreen for prevention.”
It’s important to see your doctor if you get a severe or concerning sunburn. Seek medical attention if you have any of the following:
- Blistering and covers a large portion of the body
- Develops blisters on face, hands or other areas of the body
- Severe swelling
- Shows signs of infection, such as pain, pus or red streaks leading away from an open blister
- Doesn’t improve within a few days.
- A fever more than 103°
To help prevent dehydration while on spring break, pack along a reusable water bottle so you can fill it at the airport, once you’re through security and while you’re out at the beach. Keep in mind that alcoholic beverages can actually dehydrate you, so make sure to drink lots of water, even if you’re not thirsty.
Other Safety Precautions
Many families might be traveling to areas near water, and Dr. Smolcich reminds parents to keep safety top of mind.
“Parents should always be mindful around bodies of water,” she said. “The best protection against drowning or water-related injuries is supervision by an adult at all times.”
Parents should eliminate distractions and always watch their children around pools, lakes and ponds. Those who own pools should ensure proper barriers and enclosures are in place to prevent unsupervised swimming or falls in the water. Young children who know how to swim can use water wings, floaties or floating toys with supervision. Parents should be aware that these toys are not a substitute for proper life jackets.
Additionally, parents who boat with their children should always ensure their kids are wearing life jackets—and adults should, too, especially if they want to set a good example. When choosing a life jacket for a child, parents should ensure it is designed to turn an unconscious child upright, which works for children who can’t swim as well.
For those who might be enjoying spring break at home and find themselves with nice weather where kids will be spending more time outside, possibly doing activities such as biking, there are safety guidelines to follow.
“Everyone should always wear bike helmets,” said Dr. Smolcich. “Newer riders also can benefit from knee pads or elbow pads. We also want to ensure kids know the rules of the road to help prevent serious injury.”
Dr. Smolcich reflected on the importance of spring break, especially for kids.
“Spring Break is typically scheduled so students can get a bit of reprieve from hectic school responsibilities,” she said. “Often, students do not receive enough credit when it comes to all of their various responsibilities – managing classes and homework, extracurricular activities, social lives, and more. Spring break can be great for mental health, and can benefit a person’s physical health as well, so we hope everyone can enjoy the time, safely.”
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in northeast and central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their best lives through easy access to individualized care, supporting each person’s own health and wellbeing. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand unique needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care
Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.