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This Summer, Help Your Kids Fight the “Common Mold” Allergy

The term “hay fever” brings to mind pollen and ragweed allergies, but mold can be the sneaky culprit behind summer sneezing, sniffling and itchy eyes. “Many allergy sufferers assume their symptoms are caused by pollen, when they’re actually allergic to mold,” says Dr. James L. Sublett, section chief of the pediatric allergy department at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, in Louisville, Ky.

The mold truth: Forty million Americans suffer from allergic rhinitis (aka hay fever), and mold is one of several triggers — especially in summertime. Mold allergy symptoms peak in July and late summer; as humidity rises, the fungi, which flourish in damp, warm conditions, grow on dead grass and leaves, straw and other plants. Once they’ve set up camp in an adequately damp spot, they reproduce by sending spores (or tiny seeds) into the air. Inhaling these particles triggers a reaction in those who are allergic to mold. “Mold spores can deposit on the lining of the nose and cause hay fever symptoms. They also can reach the lungs, which can cause asthma or another serious illness called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis,” says Angel Waldron, spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

So how do you know if you suffer from a mold allergy? Pesky allergy symptoms are a good indicator, but an allergist can confirm the source with a skin test, pricking the skin with extracts of different types of fungi to identify an allergic reaction.

Such medications as antihistamines and decongestants can help ease symptoms from mold. But the only surefire route to relief is avoiding mold both inside and outside your home. Follow these summer tips to allergy-proof your surroundings.

Inside Your Home

Mold is an unwelcome houseguest, and it’s hard to send the fungi packing. It lurks in rooms where humidity levels are high (the basement, kitchen and bathrooms), and it can grow on anything from houseplants to old newspapers. Luckily, our targeted plan of attack will help you get rid of the fungi for good.

Keep It Clean

  • Zap kitchen hot spots. Mold loves to hang out in trash cans, refrigerator door gaskets and drip pans. Use a cleaning product formulated to kill the fungi.
  • Don’t let laundry pile up. Damp laundry (in the machine or out) is the perfect spot for mold to grow.
  • Scrub your shower. Clean your shower with a solution of diluted beach at least once a month.
  • Tidy up the fridge. It may seem obvious, but make sure to throw out old food from your pantry and fridge as soon as it expires.

Clear the Air

  • Get hip to HEPA. Be sure your central heating and air-conditioning is fitted with a high-efficiency particulate accumulator (HEPA) filter. HEPA filters can trap very small particles, including pollen and mold spores, and are sold online and at numerous home improvement stores.
  • Minimize moisture. Use a dehumidifier, especially in damp areas like the basement and the bathroom, suggests Sublett. Don’t forget to empty the water and clean the appliance regularly to prevent creating a breeding ground for mold.
  • Air out the shower. After hot showers and baths, run a fan or open a window. In bathrooms without windows, keep the door open when the room isn’t in use.

Target Mold Zones

  • Bag the shag. Remove carpeting in the basement, laundry room and bathrooms.
  • Clear the walls. Wallpaper can trap mildew in the bathroom; a cheery shade of paint is a better bet. Look for mold- and mildew-resistant paint at the hardware store.
  • Let there be light. Since most mold grows in the dark, install a light on a timer in dark rooms like the basement or closets.
  • Store carefully. Don’t put newspaper, old books, clothes, bedding or other items in damp areas where mold will latch on.
  • Water with care. Mold loves potted soil, so don’t overwater household plants.

Outside Your Home

It’s more of a challenge to eradicate mold outside your home, where it thrives on dead grass, dead leaves, straw and other plants. These five strategies will keep the fungi under control in your great outdoors.

  • Rake and mow. The lawn should be regularly mowed and raked. It’s best to have someone else do the dirty work if you’re allergic; otherwise, wear a face mask when you’re cutting the grass, digging, weeding or raking.
  • Chop and remove. Store firewood away from your home.
  • Patch the roof. Be proactive: Repair any leaks in your roof immediately.
  • De-clutter the gutters. Always keep rain gutters clear of leaves and debris.
  • Relocate compost. A compost pile is good and green — but it’s also a major mold breeding ground. Keep it as far away from your house as possible.

Get Bugs to Buzz Off And Leave Your Kids Alone This Summer

As far as Kay Klebba is concerned, “summer is for turning cartwheels.” She loves it when her four kids — 15-, 12- and 11-year-old twins — play in the yard of their Shelby Township, Mich., home. Unfortunately, so do the bugs. “We’ve had a really wet spring, and we live right across from a lake. The kids stayed out until just after dark the other night and came in covered with mosquito bites.”

Avoiding the six-legged beasties is next to impossible. “There are about 10 million insect species, and about 75 percent of the world’s animals are insects,” says Tim Forrest, Ph.D., a professor of biology at the University of North Carolina, in Asheville. Most people have a reaction to bites and stings — ranging from barely noticeable bumps to saucer-sized welts. But while you can’t escape bugs altogether, there’s plenty you can do to manage them better.

To Avoid Bugbites …

  • Dress to repel Bright colors and flowery prints make kids more attractive to insects, as do scented soaps, perfumes and hair sprays, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  • Stay out of their way Most bugs will leave humans alone, Forrest says, “unless you mess with their nest.” Steer clear of known nests and avoid areas near trash cans (beloved by yellow jackets,) stagnant water (mosquito heaven) and fruit trees.
  • Squirt on the good stuff For kids, the AAP recommends products with at least 10 percent DEET, to be effective but no more than 30 percent. Spray on only as much as needed to cover skin and clothes, have kids wash with soap and water when they go back inside and wash clothes before wearing again.
  • Make friends with the enemy Children who are excessively frightened by insects tend to overreact and are more likely to be stung. Help your child tap into his curiosity about nature and explore the insect world — on his terms. Watch a spider spinning a web or a bee gathering nectar from a flower. “Just explain that they should be calm and not make any sudden movements,” says Forrest.

How to Handle a Bug Bite or Sting

  • Go on high alert If your child has been stung, check if there’s a stinger left behind. If so, scrape it away — carefully — with a fingernail or knife blade, says Richard F. Lockey, M.D., a professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Public Health at the University of South Florida. Then wash the area with soap and water, and apply ice to the sting. Watch your child carefully for signs of wheezing or difficulty breathing, tightness in the throat or chest, swelling of the lips, tongue or face, or any dizziness, fainting, nausea or vomiting. While such intense allergic reactions are relatively uncommon — only an estimated 3 percent of adults and 1 percent of children react that way — they can happen within moments. And in rare instances, they can be fatal. If your child has any of these symptoms, head straight to the emergency room.
  • Soothe the sting or bite If there’s no allergic reaction, continue with occasional ice for 24 hours. There are other things you can use to relieve the swelling and discomfort, but there’s no solid proof that any of them work. Still, it’s worth a try. “Cortisone cream helps some people, and so do antihistamines,” says Lockey. Some people find relief with a paste made from baking soda or meat tenderizer and water. Others find that applying aloe vera, calendula leaves and even a slice of onion can help.
  • Keep an eye on it As kids scratch, bites can become infected, and some — like certain spider bites — can leave ugly, ulcerated wounds. “Keep it clean and covered,” says Lockey. “And be patient. While there isn’t much you can do to speed healing, it will go away eventually.”

Are Your Children At Risk for Dehydration This Summer?

Welcome to summer, the kids are out of school, summer camps are in full swing, family trips all over the country have begun and just in case you haven’t noticed, it’s hot outside. It is turning out to be one of the hottest summers on record with temperatures reaching triple digits in many parts of the country. As it heats up, summer safety becomes a serious issue. With all this fun and traveling going on please don’t forget to ask yourself one very important question, “are my children hydrated well enough to handle this heat?” the answer is most likely no.

Thousands of children each year are admitted to hospitals with heat-related illnesses and most go home, but there are the cases every year where children end up overheating and dying because they were not hydrated properly. As I write this, it’s a beautiful 94 degree Saturday here in Miami with all the humidity you can handle and that means one thing for us here at the fire department. A huge increase in the amount of heat illness related calls we are going to run and most of them will be on children.

As parents when we think of dehydration, we think of our children being sick and having a bout of diarrhea and or vomiting, and the doctor tells us to keep them hydrated with plenty of fluids. That is all well and good and as good parents we make sure our little campers get plenty of fluids and are back healthy A.S.A.P., But the kind of dehydration I am talking about is the kind we as parents tend to overlook in the rush of our day to day lives and that is the everyday dehydration of our very active children. By the time a child says he is thirsty, he is already dehydrated, and with studies finding that 50% of children participating in sports activities were already dehydrated we need to be hydrating our children before, during, and after physical activity as well as keeping an eye out for the signs of heat-related illnesses.

Recommendations for hydrating children ages 6 to 12 include:

  • 4-8 ounces 1 to 2 hours before activity
  • 5-9 ounces every 20 minutes of activity
  • After activity, replace lost fluids within 2 hours

Recommendations for hydrating young athletes ages 13 to 18 include:

  • 8-16 ounces 1 to 2 hours before activity
  • 8-12 ounces 10-15 minutes before activity
  • 5-10 ounces every 20 minutes of activity

Being able to recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses is critical and should be done by us the parents as well as the coaches. A basic awareness of the signs of heat-related illnesses could make all the difference, so here are some key points to be on the lookout for as recommended by Susan Yeargin, PhD, ATC.

Types of heat illnesses

Athletes who exercise in hot or humid weather are particularly at risk of heat illnesses:

  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heatstroke

Symptoms of impending heat illness

In addition to educating young athletes about both the importance of hydration and the dangers of heat-related illness, ensuring that they are drinking enough fluids, and taking precautions to reduce the risk of heat injury in children in hot and humid weather, you need to watch your child for symptoms of impending heat illness:

  • Weakness
  • Chills
  • Goose pimples on the chest and upper arms
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Faintness
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle cramping
  • Reduced or cessation of sweating

A child continuing to exercise when experiencing any of these symptoms could suffer a heat illness.

Heat cramps

Symptoms:

  • Thirst
  • Chills
  • Clammy skin
  • Throbbing heart
  • Muscle pain
  • Spasms
  • Nausea

Treatment:

  • Move child to shade
  • Remove excess clothing
  • Have child drink 4 to 8 ounces of fluid with electrolytes (sports drinks) every 10 to 15 minutes

Heat Exhaustion

Symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Reduced sweating
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Dry mouth
  • Rectal temperature less than 104?F.

Treatment:

  • Move child to cool place
  • Have child drink 16 ounces of fluid containing electrolytes for every pound of weight lost
  • Remove sweaty clothes
  • Place ice behind child’s head
  • Seek medical attention, if no improvement

Heat Stroke

Symptoms:

  • No sweating
  • Dry, hot skin
  • Swollen tongue
  • Visual disturbances
  • Rapid pulse
  • Unsteady gait
  • Fainting
  • Low blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shock
  • Excessively high rectal temperature (over 105.8F.)

Treatment:

  • Call 911
  • Remove sweaty clothes
  • Immediate and continual dousing with water (either from a hose or multiple water containers) combined with fanning and continually rotating cold, wet towels on head and neck until immersive cooling can occur.

As parents we tell our kids to study and do their homework so they will be prepared, well we as parents need to do our homework as well when it comes to recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses and staying on top of hydration. Luckily for those parents who live and breathe on their iPhone there is help. iHydrate is an app that reminds you to hydrate yourself and your children before, during and after activities. App or no app, stay alert, keep those children hydrated and please remember, when in doubt call 911.

Kids Need Vitamin D – Can It Be Gotten Safely From Sunlight

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, and in the UK from around late March/early April to the end of September we get most of our vitamin D from sunlight exposure**. Find out how to get enough without risking sun damage.

We need vitamin D to help the body absorb calcium and phosphate from our diet. These minerals are important for healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

A lack of vitamin D – known as vitamin D deficiency – can cause bones to become soft and weak, which can lead to bone deformities. In children, for example, a lack of vitamin D can lead to rickets. In adults, it can lead to osteomalacia, which causes bone pain and tenderness.

How do we get vitamin D?

Our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we are outdoors. From about late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D we need from sunlight.

We also get some vitamin D from a small number of foods, including oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs.

Vitamin D is also added to all infant formula milk, as well as some breakfast cereals, fat spreads and non-dairy milk alternatives.

The amounts added to these products can vary and may only be added in small amounts. Manufacturers must by law add vitamin D to infant formula milk.

Another source of vitamin D is dietary supplements.

How long should we spend in the sun?

Most people (in the UK**) can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered and without sunscreen from late March or early April to the end of September, especially from 11am to 3pm.

It’s not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet the body’s requirements. This is because there are a number of factors that can affect how vitamin D is made, such as your skin colour or how much skin you have exposed. But you should be careful not to burn in the sun, so take care to cover up, or protect your skin with sunscreen, before your skin starts to turn red or burn.

People with dark skin, such as those of African, African-Caribbean or south Asian origin, will need to spend longer in the sun to produce the same amount of vitamin D as someone with lighter skin.

How long it takes for your skin to go red or burn varies from person to person. Cancer Research UK has a useful tool where you can find out your skin type, to see when you might be at risk of burning.

Your body can’t make vitamin D if you are sitting indoors by a sunny window because ultraviolet B (UVB) rays (the ones your body needs to make vitamin D) can’t get through the glass.

The longer you stay in the sun, especially for prolonged periods without sun protection, the greater your risk of skin cancer.

If you plan to be out in the sun for long, cover up with suitable clothing, wrap-around sunglasses, seeking shade and applying at least SPF15 sunscreen.

Winter sunlight

In the UK, sunlight doesn’t contain enough UVB radiation in winter (October to early March) for our skin to be able to make vitamin D.

During these months, we rely on getting our vitamin D from food sources (including fortified foods) and supplements.

Using sunbeds is not a recommended way of making vitamin D.

Babies and children

Children aged under six months should be kept out of direct strong sunlight.

From March to October in the UK**, children should:

  • cover up with suitable clothing, including wearing a hat and wearing wrap-around sunglasses
  • spend time in the shade (particularly from 11am to 3pm)
  • wear at least SPF15 sunscreen

To ensure they get enough vitamin D, babies and children aged under five years should be given vitamin D supplements even if they do get out in the sun. Find out about vitamin D supplements for children.

Who should take Vitamin D supplements?

Some groups of the population are at greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D, and the Department of Health recommends that these people should take daily vitamin D supplements, to make sure they get enough.

These groups are**:

  • all babies from birth to one year of age (including breastfed babies and formula fed babies who have less than 500ml a day of infant formula)
  • all children aged one to four years old
  • people who are not often exposed to the sun – for example, people who are frail or housebound, or are in an institution such as a care home, or if they usually wear clothes that cover up most of their skin when outdoors

For the rest of the population, everyone over the age of five years (including pregnant and breastfeeding women) is advised to consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms (μg) of vitamin D.

But the majority of people aged five years and above will probably get enough vitamin D from sunlight in the summer (late March/early April to the end of September), so you might choose not to take a vitamin D supplement during these months.

Find out more about who should take vitamin D supplements and how much to take.

You can get vitamin supplements containing vitamin D free of charge if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a child under four years of age and qualify for the Healthy Start scheme.

You can also buy single vitamin supplements or vitamin drops containing vitamin D for babies and young children at most pharmacies and larger supermarkets.

Speak to your pharmacist, GP or health visitor if you are unsure whether you need to take a vitamin D supplement or don’t know what supplements to take.

Can you have too much vitamin D?

If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10μg a day will be enough for most people.

People who take supplements are advised not to take more than 100μg of vitamin D a day, as it could be harmful (100 micrograms is equal to 0.1 milligrams). This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11-17 years.

Children aged one to 10 years should not have more than 50μg a day. Babies under 12 months should not have more than 25μg a day.

Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to take as much vitamin D safely. If in doubt, you should talk to your doctor. If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.

The amount of vitamin D contained in supplements is sometimes expressed in international units (IU) where 40 IU is equal to one microgram (1µg) of vitamin D.

There is no risk of your body making too much vitamin D from sun exposure, but always remember to cover up or protect your skin before the time it takes you to start turning red or burn.

Editor’s Note:

** U.S. Resources:

NHS Choices logo


From www.nhs.uk

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Sun Safety for Kids: Healthier Skin for Life

How do I Keep My Child Safe In The Sun?

Exposing your child to too much sun may increase their risk of skin cancer later in life.

Sunburn can also cause considerable pain and discomfort in the short term.

That’s why babies and children need to have their skin protected between March and October in the UK.

Tips to keep your child safe in the sun this summer 

  • Encourage your child to play in the shade – for example, under trees – especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
  • Keep babies under the age of six months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday.
  • Cover exposed parts of your child’s skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days. Use one that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above and is effective against UVA and UVB. Don’t forget to apply it to their shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks, and the tops of their feet. Reapply often throughout the day.
  • Be especially careful to protect your child’s shoulders and the back of their neck when they’re playing, as these are the most common areas for sunburn.
  • Cover your child up in loose cotton clothes, such as an oversized T-shirt with sleeves.
  • Get your child to wear a floppy hat with a wide brim that shades their face and neck.
  • Protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses that meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the “CE” mark – check the label.
  • If your child is swimming, use a waterproof sunblock of factor 15 or above. Reapply after towelling.

Read more about summer safety for younger children.

Sunlight and vitamin D

The best source of vitamin D is summer sunlight on our skin. Because it’s important to keep your child’s skin safe in the sun, it’s recommended all babies and young children aged six months to five years should take a daily supplement containing vitamin D, in the form of vitamin drops.

See more about vitamin D for babies and young children.

How to apply sunscreen

An expert explains why it is important to protect your skin from sunburn to help avoid skin cancer. She also gives advice on how to apply sunscreen correctly and what to look out for when buying sun cream.

NHS Choices logo


From www.nhs.uk

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Teachers, Counselors, Coaches: How To Keep Your Kids Hydrated

Welcome to Fire Academy!  It is now 7am and the PT or Physical Training is about to begin.  The instructor for the class has many things on his/her mind but none more important than two things we preach most, Safety and Hydration.  Before any work is done it is the job of the instructor to make sure that the class has hydrated and is prepared for what is about to take place.  The importance of being safe no matter what you do can never be understated, hydration has a role in your safety as well.

While you may not be a Fire Academy Instructor, if you are caring for kids this summer you have the same job and should be thinking in the same way. How can I keep these children safe and have we hydrated for what we are about to do, what we are doing, and what we have done?

Teachers, it does not matter if you are at a large school or a small daycare. You have had these children placed in your care and it is your job to incorporate regular hydration into your schedule. Hydration should be done before going out to play or recess, the children should have access to water while playing by a water fountain or bottle of some kind, and the children should be given an opportunity to hydrate when outside time is through. This will ensure that the kids are properly hydrated at all times and ready for whatever activity you have planned next.

Parents, if you are in charge of mommy or daddy daycare then you too have the job of making sure your kids are properly hydrated.  It will be easy to let the kids play and drink whatever they can grab out of the fridge but having a supply of water on hand rather than super sugary drinks will pay dividends for your family by not only keeping them hydrated, but also not loading them up with a ton of sugar as well.  Parents please remember that kid’s bodies burn at a much higher rate than ours so even if the kids are not as active as they should be and they are lounging around the house, they still need to have plenty of water.

Counselors, if you are in charge of children then you need to be the one looking after the hydration of the group. I know that camps during the summer plan constant activities and go many places, so not only do you have the responsibility of watching the kids in multiple situations, but you also need to be monitoring their hydration as well.  Make sure everyone has water on or near them during activities. You know the kids have some sort of juice in the lunch they brought with them, so please do your part to make sure they are getting plenty of water before, during, and after activities.

Coaches, You, out of all the other categories, are the closest to Fire department instructor.  Your job is to make safety and hydration a priority. Have you thought about the safety involved in what your team is about to do? And has your team hydrated properly so that they can not only perform, but avoid risking dehydration? It is your added responsibility to monitor the hydration status of your team.  Some sports may have helmets and uniforms that make it difficult to see faces and other signs of dehydration, so the job of hydration becomes that much more important. Before, during, after, and even on the days off as well.

Parents, Teachers, and Counselors can get creative with younger children and have them color their own water bottles or something along those lines to make it fun while making sure they are drinking enough water.

The goal of hydration is to avoid Heat Related Emergencies.

There are varying levels of Heat Related Emergencies and signs that can let you know if a Heat Emergency is near or already happening.

When looking for heat related emergencies be on the lookout for the following:

  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Skin is red in color but dry to the touch
  • Loss of consciousness / Fainting
  • Headaches
  • Altered mental status ( not acting how they normally do )
  • Low Energy / Weakness

While these are all signs of dehydration, please be aware that these are the signs seen most during activities such as playtime or sports. 

All of these require bringing the child out of the sun, into a cool place, and re-hydrating the child slowly. If the child faints, has any other medical issue, or has an altered mental status please take them to a cool place, hydrate them slowly and call 911. There are many causes for altered mental status and severe dehydration is one of them so having an emergency unit there will only help the situation.

  • To slowly re-hydrate a child let them drink slowly, a little bit at a time.  Having them drink too much, too fast may cause them to vomit.
  • To slowly cool a child down you can place a cool wet towel over the back of their neck and/or ice-packs in the under arm area, as well as between the thighs.  I know we have all seen the NFL players jump into huge garbage cans of ice, Please do not attempt this with any children as this is a last resort option and one that should be done only by trained professionals under medical supervision.

As, always I will tell you that when in doubt call 911.  These are children and while they may not be your children, you have a responsibility to them to keep them safe and act in their best interest.  Mom and Dad will thank you later.

Good luck, Have a great summer and be safe!

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