Winter Activities

Wondering what to do with the family over the holiday break? Visit the Connecticut Tourism website for lots of great winter activities, including outdoor activities like skiing and snowboarding, local museums that are great for kids of all ages, hiking trails, art galleries, and much more! Click here for ideas and links.


Connecticut’s Top 10 Hiking Trails

Connecticut today is crisscrossed by hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

According to the Connecticut Office of Tourism, “these hikes run through high land and low, across difficult and easy terrain, and they offer unique insight into the geology, flora and fauna of the state. They also serve as blissful, highly satisfying getaways from the noise and crowds of daily life.” The Top 10 Hikes in the state are:

Mattabessett Trail, Meriden
Mattatuck Trail, Wolcott
Mine Hill Preserve, Roxbury
Farm River State Park, East Haven
Devil’s Den Preserve, Weston
White Memorial Conservation Center, Litchfield
Appalachian Trail River Walk, South Kent
Tunix Trail, Barkhamstead
Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union
Steep Rock, Washington

CLICK HERE for more about all of these cool places for adventure!

Keep Kids Healthy & Safe this Summer

It’s summer, and for kids that means it’s time for sports, swimming, biking and picnics. And while active outdoor time is healthy and fun, experts say it’s crucial for parents and kids to brush up on some seasonal safety tips.

According to the experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the summer poses its own set of risks. In order to help parents keep kids happy, healthy and safe all summer long, they are offering these timely tips:

Sunburns are not only unpleasant, they are damaging to skin health. Minimize your family’s exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation by dressing your children (and yourself for that matter) in cotton clothing with a tight weave, sunglasses and hats with a brim or bill. Stay in the shade whenever possible and use a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or greater, even on cloudy days, and reapply it every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. Always keep plenty of water on hand when you’re playing or exercising outside. Unless kids are exercising vigorously for extended periods, plain water –not sports drinks –is the best way to rehydrate.

Drowning is a leading cause of death among children, including infants and toddlers, but parents can make swimming safer for kids with the right safety equipment, instruction and supervision.

“While swimming lessons are helpful, they are not a foolproof plan. Parents should never — even for a moment — leave children alone near open bodies of water,” says Dr. Thomas K. McInerny, the 2013 president of the AAP.

Home swimming pools should be surrounded by a fourfoot- high, non-climbable, four-sided fence with a selfclosing, self-latching gate. Parents, caregivers, and pool owners should learn CPR and keep equipment approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, such as life preservers and life jackets at poolside.

Even with netting, padding and adult supervision, experts say that home trampolines are dangerous.

“Trampoline injuries are common, and can be potentially catastrophic,” says Dr. McInerny. “From temporarily debilitating sprains, strains and contusions to cervical spine injuries with lasting consequences, the risks associated with recreational trampoline use are easily avoided.”

Thousands of people are injured on trampolines annually. Encourage your child to get exercise in safer ways.

Children should wear a helmet on every bike ride. Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime. Get your child a helmet specific for biking. Football helmets, for example, are made to protect the head from other types of injuries.

Teach your children traffic and bike safety before allowing them to bike in the street. For example, they should always ride with traffic and use hand signals. If your child doesn’t have the skills necessary to use hand signals without swerving, he or she shouldn’t be riding in the street.

By taking proper precautions, you can maximize the fun this summer by keeping kids healthy, safe and sound.

Provided by StatePoint Media.

Winter Sports Safety Tips

For winter sports activities, be sure to set reasonable limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite, and make sure kids have a place to go warm up when they get cold. When weather is severe, have children come inside periodically to warm up.

Ice Skating
Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved. Advise your child to:

  • Skate in the same direction as the crowd
  • Avoid darting across the ice
  • Never skate alone
  • Not chew gum or eat candy while skating.
  • Consider having your child wear a helmet, knee pads and elbow pads, especially while learning to skate.

Young children should always be supervised by an adult. Older children’s need for adult supervision depends on their maturity and skill. If older children are not with an adult, they should always at least be accompanied by a friend.

  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
  • Children should be supervised while sledding.
  • Children less than 5 years of age should not sled alone.
  • Keep young children separated from older children.
  • Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
  • Consider having your child wear a (hockey not bicycle) helmet while sledding.
  • Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.
  • Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like trees or fences, be covered in snow not ice, not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
  • Avoid sledding in crowded areas.

Snow Skiing and Snowboarding
Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.

  • Never ski or snowboard alone.
  • All skiers and snowboarders should wear helmets. Ski facilities should require helmet use, but if they do not, parents should enforce the requirement for their children.
  • Equipment should fit the child. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards. Hip pads have been shown to be effective in preventing fractures, as well. Eye protection or goggles should also be used.
  • Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder. Avoid crowded slopes.
  • Avoid skiing in areas with trees and other obstacles.

The AAP recommends that children under age 16 not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.

  • Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
  • Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles.
  • Travel at safe speeds.
  • Never snowmobile alone or at night.
  • Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.

From, January 2016.

Zika Virus: What Parents Need to Know


With all of the coverage in the news about the Zika virus, it is understandable that parents have questions. Here are the facts you need to know about this virus.

Zika is a virus that can cause the following symptoms:

  • Rash
  • Fever
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Joint pain

Symptoms usually clear up in less than a week, are mild, and rarely require hospitalization. However, because the disease affects people differently, only 1 in 5 of those infected will have symptoms.

In February 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a public health emergency. Federal health officials have confirmed the Zika virus virus can cause microcephaly (babies born with a small head) and other brain abnormalities in infants. Leaders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that while many questions remain, they hope this finding will help improve communication and prevention efforts as they continue to study the virus.


Mosquitos: Mosquitoes can carry Zika from person to person. If a pregnant woman is infected, the Zika virus can be transmitted to her baby while she is pregnant or around the time of birth. Mosquitoes that spread Zika virus bite both indoors and outdoors, mostly during the daytime. Some cases of Zika virus have been confirmed in the United States.

As the weather becomes warmer, more mosquitos will circulate. Parents should take steps to help their children protect themselves from mosquito bites and make sure that anyone else who cares for their children will do this, as well.

Sexual Transmission: Men who live in or have traveled to areas where the Zika virus is spreading should use condoms during sex with a pregnant partner or abstain from sex for the duration of the pregnancy. Even if their partner is not pregnant, men may want to consider taking such steps. Researchers do not yet know how long the virus stays in semen. See Interim Guidelines for Prevention of Sexual Transmission of Zika Virus.

Other: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still is reviewing data on whether the virus can be transmitted through saliva and urine and is not making a recommendation related to those fluids at this time. The American Association of Blood Banks and Red Cross are asking people not to donate blood within 28 days of traveling to affected areas.


Until more is known about the Zika virus, the CDC has specific warnings for women and women trying to become pregnant.

  • Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.
  • Pregnant women who do travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.
  • Pregnant women who have traveled to such areas where the Zika virus is spreading should be tested within two to 12 weeks even if they don’t show symptoms.
  • Women trying to become pregnant or who are thinking about becoming pregnant should talk with their doctor before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Click here for an up-to-date list of areas with ongoing Zika virus activity.


The best way to prevent getting infected with Zika virus in areas where it is found is to take the following steps to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants or clothing made of fabrics treated with permethrin. When possible, choose clothing made with thicker fabric as mosquitos can bite through thin cloth.
  • Use insect repellents. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding can and should choose EPA-registered insect repellents and use them according to their product labels.
  • Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms, or use a mosquito bed net (a permethrin treated bed net is best).

Check CDC’s Zika Travel Information website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.


There are no vaccines or treatment currently available to prevent or treat Zika infection. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the country’s medical research agency, is conducting research to better understand Zika’s effects on the body, to develop tests that can quickly identify the virus in people, and to find treatments that might be effective.

The NIH is working quickly to find answers that Americans and people across the globe need in the face of this rapidly emerging infectious disease.


Last Updated 5/13/2016. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2016). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


2016 Connecticut Trails Weekend

CT Trails Weekend
Saturday, June 4
& Sunday, June 5

This weekend is Connecticut Trails Weekend. On Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5, organizations around the state are hosting hikes, educational walks, trail runs, bike rides, horseback rides, water trail paddles, letterboxing, trail work parties and more. It’s a great chance for you and your family to get out and enjoy all that our beautiful state has to offer!

Connecticut Trails Days is part of National Trails Day, and is the largest celebration of its kind in the country. Coordinated by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association, this statewide event is a unique collaboration of towns, parks, land trusts, nature centers, historic attractions, and others.

CLICK HERE to see a map and directory of events!

Heat Exposure and Reactions


There are 3 main reactions to hot environmental temperatures and heat waves:

Heatstroke or Sunstroke: Symptoms include hot, flushed skin; high fever over 105° F (40.5° C) rectally; the absence of sweating (in 50%); confusion or coma; and shock. A rectal temperature is more accurate than an oral temperature in these disorders. Heat stroke is a life-threatening emergency with a high death rate if not treated promptly.

Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms include pale skin; usually no fever but can temporarily be elevated between 100 – 102° F (37.8 – 39° C); profuse sweating; nausea, dizziness, fainting, or weakness. Most of the symptoms are caused by dehydration from sweating. Because a person can progress from heat exhaustion to heat stroke, all patients with severe symptoms (e.g., fainting) need to be examined immediately. Patients with mild symptoms (e.g., dizziness or fever) who do not respond to fluid replacement and rest also need to be seen.

Heat Cramps: Severe muscle cramps in the legs (especially calf or thigh muscles) and abdomen are present. No fever. Tightness or spasms of the hands may occur.


  • All 3 reactions are caused by exposure to high temperatures often with high humidity.
  • Exercising or other vigorous activity/labor during hot weather can cause heat production to exceed heat loss.
  • Poor hydration interferes with sweating and increases the risk of heat reactions.
  • Infants are at added risk because they are less able to sweat with heat stress. So are children who are vacationing in a hot climate and who have not acclimatized. The first heat wave of the summer can cause similar problems. It takes 8 to 10 days for you to become used to high summer temperatures.
  • Heat stroke (a breakdown in the temperature-regulating mechanism) usually follows exposure to a very high environmental temperature (e.g. trapped inside a hot car, steam tents, crib near a radiator or indoors during bad heat waves without air-conditioning).

First Aid For Heatstroke Or Sunstroke

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Cool the child off as rapidly as possible while awaiting EMS arrival.
  • Move him to a cool shady place or air-conditioned room.
  • Sponge the entire body surface with cool water (as cool as tolerated without causing shivering). Fan the child to increase evaporation.
  • Keep the feet elevated to counteract shock.
  • If the child is awake, give as much cold water to drink as he or she can tolerate.
  • Fever medicines are of no value for heat stroke.

First Aid For Heat Exhaustion

  • Put the child in a cool place. Have him lie down with the feet elevated.
  • Undress him (except for underwear) so the body surface can give off heat.
  • Sponge the entire body surface continuously with cool water (as cool as tolerated without causing shivering). Fan the child to increase heat loss from evaporation.
  • Give as much cold water to drink as the child can tolerate until he or she feels better.
  • For severe symptoms, drive the child in to be seen.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information. Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. Clinical content review provided by Senior Reviewer and Healthpoint Medical Network.
Last Review Date: 8/7/2011
Last Revised: 8/11/2011 3:30:44 PM
Version Year: 2012
Content Set: Pediatric HouseCalls Symptom Checker
Copyright 1994-2012 Barton D. Schmitt, M.D.

Summer Family Fun


Are you looking for some fun things to do with your family this summer? The Connecticut Office of Tourism has a great website with all sorts of things to do. Check out 52 different types of get-aways including hiking trails, waterfalls, art museums, scenic drives, historic locations, fairs and festivals, and much more. In addition to a calendar of events and an interactive map, the site includes an extensive list of family activities where you can find out about these great local destinations:

Beardsley Zoo
Connecticut Science Center
Dinosaur State park
Discovery Museum
Lake Compounce
Lime Rock Park
Mystic Aquarium
Ocean Beach Park
Roaring Book Nature Center
Shoreline Trolley Museum
State Parks
UConn Dairy Bar
Yale Peabody Museum

And that’s just to name a few!

Check it out. CLICK HERE to learn more about family fun right here in Connecticut!

Bicycle Helmets: What Every Parent Should Know


How can I tell if a helmet will keep my child safe?
You should only buy a helmet that meets the bicycle helmet safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Any helmet meeting these standards is labeled. Check the inside.

Do all helmets meet these standards?
All helmets manufactured or imported for use after March 1999 must comply with a mandatory safety standard issued by the CPSC.

Can other kinds of helmets be used for bicycling?
Each type of helmet is designed for protection in specific conditions and may not offer enough protection in bike crashes or falls. Bike helmets are very protective in head-first falls at fairly high speeds, and are light and well ventilated for comfort and acceptability. A multisport helmet, certified to meet the CPSC standard for bicycle helmets, also is acceptable.

Where can I get a helmet?
Helmets meeting CPSC safety standards are available at bicycle shops and at some discount, department, and toy stores in adult, children, and toddler’s sizes and styles. Do not resell, donate, or buy a used bike helmet because it may be too old to provide protection or may have been in a crash.

Which is better, hard-shell or soft-shell helmets?
The essential part of the helmet for impact protection is a thick layer of firm polystyrene, plastic foam, that crushes on impact, absorbing the force of the blow. All helmets require a chin strap to keep them in place in a crash.

Hard-shell helmets also have a hard outer shell of plastic or fiberglass that provides a shield against penetration by sharp objects and holds the polystyrene together if it cracks in a fall or crash. These helmets are more sturdy, but tend to be heavier and warmer than the soft-shell models.

Soft-shell helmets have no hard outer shell but are made of an extra-thick layer of polystyrene covered with a cloth cover or surface coating. The cloth cover is an essential part of many soft-shell helmets. If the helmet comes with a cover, the cover must always be worn to hold the helmet together if the polystyrene cracks on impact.

Both types of helmets meet CPSC standards; the main difference is style and comfort. The soft-shell helmets are lighter than the hard shell versions but may be less durable.

Although there is no consensus on the relative safety of the 2 types, models of both types have passed the CPSC test. The soft-shell helmets are lighter than the hard-shell versions but may be less durable.

How should a helmet fit?
A helmet should be worn squarely on top of the head, covering the top of the forehead. If it is tipped back, it will not protect the forehead. The helmet fits well if it doesn’t move around on the head or slide down over the wearer’s eyes when pushed or pulled. The chin strap should be adjusted to fit snugly.

Are there helmets for infants?
Yes. Many infant-sized helmets are of the soft-shell variety. They are light, an important consideration for small children whose necks may not be strong enough to comfortably hold a hard-shell helmet. Babies younger than 1 year have relatively weak neck structure. Neither helmets nor bike traveling is recommended for them.

How long will a child’s helmet fit?
An infant’s or child’s helmet should fit for several years. Most models have removable fitting pads that can be replaced with thinner ones as the child’s head grows.

Can a helmet be reused after a crash?
In general, a helmet that has been through a serious fall or crash should be retired with gratitude. It has served its purpose and may not provide adequate protection in another crash. If you are uncertain whether the helmet is still usable, throw it away.

Last Updated 5/14/2015. Source TIPP: The Injury Prevention Program (Copyright © 1994 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 9/2005, Reaffirmed 10/12). The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.