July 3, 2013
Concord, NH – Summer is here and if you are looking for a summer child care program or camp for your child, keep in mind that they play a key role in protecting your child’s health – against sun exposure, obesity, mosquito-borne illnesses, and more. Prevention of many chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and even cancer begins in childhood. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services is encouraging parents to ask questions of the facilities their children are attending to make sure they are in a safe and healthy environment.
Being physically active, eating healthy, and using sunscreen all help keep kids safe. Find out what is offered for daily physical activity, if television or screen time are restricted, if fruits and vegetables are offered at all meals and snacks, if water is readily available throughout, and if healthy beverages (such as skim milk) are served.
Shorts, sleeveless tops, and swimsuits all expose your child’s skin to the sun. Ask if the program will work with you to protect your child from sunburn which increases skin cancer risk. The sun is strongest between 10 AM and 4 PM. Are children protected from sun and is shade available during this time? Policies regarding who applies sunscreen can vary greatly. Find out the program policy by asking, who provides it, applies it, and how often? Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before kids go outside and reapplied every two hours and after swimming, toweling off, and sweating.
Summer is also tick and mosquito season. West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, mosquito-borne viruses, should be part of your summer health considerations. Does the program eliminate standing water? Do windows and doors have tight-fitting screens in good repair? Will they apply insect repellents to your child’s skin? If yes, what brand and how often? Repellents containing no more than 30% DEET (N, N-diethyl-methyl-meta-toluamide) have been proven effective and should be used according to manufacturer’s instructions. Will any landscape spraying take place to control mosquito activity? How will they protect your child against contamination from landscape sprays? What is the policy on tick removal?
For more information on these topics, visit these DHHS websites or call for more information:
- Physical activity and healthy eating, contact the Obesity Prevention Program at 271-4551, www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/obesity.htm
- Sun exposure, contact the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program at 271-4969, www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdpc/nhcccp.htm
- West Nile Virus/Eastern Equine Encephalitis, contact the DHHS West Nile Virus/Eastern Equine Encephalitis Hotline at 1-866-273-6453 or get additional information at http://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/arboviral/index.htm
- Finding quality child care, visit http://childcareaware.org/parents-and-guardians/child-care-101/5-steps-to-choosing-care
- Requirement for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services at 271-3503, http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/dwgb/youthcamps/index.htm
- The American Camping Association at http://www.acacamps.org
- Requirements for camps, NH Department of Environmental Services at 271-3503, http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/dwgb/youthcamps/index.htm
- Find a Camp, American Camping Association at http://www.acacamps.org