Summer Tips: Pool Safety

Swimming is a fantastic form of exercise and a major component of many spring break trips and summer break fun. But parents should remember that swimming also comes with risk. Follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to protecting children from drowning.

POOL SAFETY

  • Never leave children alone in or near the pool or spa, even for a moment; close supervision by a responsible adult is the best way to prevent drowning in children.
  • Whenever children under age 5 are in or around water, an adult – preferably one who knows how to swim and perform CPR – should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”
  • Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through.
  • Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach. Consider alarms on the gate to alert you when someone opens the gate. Consider surface wave or underwater alarms as an added layer of protection.
  • The safest fence is one that surrounds all 4 sides of the pool and completely separates the pool from the house and yard. If the house serves as the fourth side of the fence, install an alarm on the exit door to the yard and the pool. For additional protection, install window guards on windows facing the pool. Drowning victims have also used pet doors to gain access to pools. Keep all of your barriers and alarms in good repair with fresh batteries.
  • Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook ­– a long pole with a hook on the end — and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool. Choose a shepherd’s hook and other rescue equipment made of fiberglass or other materials that do not conduct electricity.
  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life jackets and can give children and parents a false sense of security.
  • Children over age 1 may be at a lower risk of drowning if they have had some formal swimming instruction. However, there is no evidence that swimming lessons or water survival skills courses can prevent drowning in babies younger than 1 year of age.
  • The decision to enroll a child over age one in swimming lessons should be made by the parent based on the child’s developmental readiness and exposure to water, but swim programs should never be seen as “drown proofing” a child of any age.
  • Avoid entrapment: Suction from pool and spa drains can trap a swimmer underwater. Do not use a pool or spa if there are broken or missing drain covers. Ask your pool operator if your pool or spa’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act. If you have a swimming pool or spa, ask your pool service representative to update your drains and other suction fitting with anti-entrapment drain covers and other devices or systems. See PoolSafely.gov for more information on the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act.
  • Large, inflatable, above-ground pools have become increasingly popular for backyard use. Children may fall in if they lean against the soft side of an inflatable pool. Although such pools are often exempt from local pool fencing requirements, it is essential that they be surrounded by an appropriate fence just as a permanent pool would be so that children cannot gain unsupervised access.
  • If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first.
  • Share safety instructions with family, friends and neighbors.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2018). 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.


Disasters and Your Family: Why to Be Prepared

It’s the 15th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. That was a disaster that none of us will ever forget; the images of people stranded on rooftops and huddled in the Superdome are in our memories forever.

It was an extraordinary disaster, so extraordinary that it’s easy to think: “Nothing like that will ever happen to my family.” But the truth is that disasters do happen. We are in the midst of hurricane season now. There are wildfires blazing in California. There have been tornados and floods in the Midwest. Last winter brought record snowfall to many areas of the country.

Anything can happen!

Nobody likes to think about a disaster happening—but thinking about it is exactly what we need to do. Preparation makes all the difference; it can literally save lives.


Disasters and COVID-19

Just like all of us could be at risk of catching COVID-19, we could all be at risk for some kind of disaster. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to reduce the danger from both of these.

Allow extra time to prepare. COVID-19 may make affect your ability to get supplies if a disaster strikes. You may want to get toilet paper, masks or cloth face coverings​, hand sanitizer, and wipes now, rather than waiting for later.

Keep preventing the spread. Even during a disaster, take steps to ​​protect yourself from COVID-19. If you have to travel or go to a shelter, try to keep at least 6 feet apart from people not in your family. Remember to wear face coverings over your mouth and nose when near other people. Most children over 2 years old also can wear masks safely. Avoid touching your face, and remember to use hand sanitizer or wash your hands. Remind children to do the same.

Children and families can prepare together. Disasters can be scary, but being ready is one way to be less afraid!​


Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Be Informed Graph

Here are some simple and important things you can do with your family:

  • Talk to your children about disasters that might happen—and what they should do.
  • Know where to get reliable news and information about weather and disasters. Arrange a few different ways to receive alerts, such as texts.
  • Teach children the basics about what to do in a fire, such as getting low to avoid smoke or feeling doorknobs for heat before opening them. Have a fire escape plan.
  • If you live in an area affected by hurricanes​, tornadoes, wildfires or earthquakes, talk with children about how to recognize the signs and where they should go.
  • Make sure children know how to call 911 and can give their name and address. Even very young children can learn this.
  • Decide on a person (preferably not a local person who might be affected by the same disaster) that everyone can contact if you are separated.
  • Have a meeting place outside the house where family members can go if you are separated and can’t reach each other.
  • Practice! That is the best way to be sure the information sticks. Have fire drills and drills for other possible disasters where you live. If you have young children, try making it a game—they will be less scared and more willing to practice regularly.
  • Plan for where you would go if you had to evacuate. Some local shelters may have changed because of COVID-19. If you have pets, make sure the place you are going will accept them.
  • If you plan to purchase a generator for extended power outages after disasters, be sure to learn about steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Put together a family disaster kit

Having basic supplies is key if there is a disaster. In the heat of the moment, though, you may not have the time, or presence of mind, to gather them. So, do it ahead of time. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have great information on items to pack, but here are some ideas to get you started:

  • A first-aid kit
  • Water (2 gallons per day per person)
  • Flashlights, batteries, chargers
  • A battery-operated radio
  • Non-perishable foods, such as canned foods (include a can opener), granola bars and peanut butter
  • Cups and utensils (you can pick up some inexpensive camping kits)
  • Spare clothes, and a blanket or two
  • Toys or games
  • Supplies for pets
  • Medications—if you can, try to stay ahead of your refills and keep one in the disaster kit. At the very least, take a picture of the bottle so that you know exactly what you take.

Tip: It’s not always possible to keep things like current medications stored away, so make a checklist of everything you might need to grab quickly. You can tape the list to the top of the container, which should be a manageable size (you may need a couple of them) and in a readily accessible place in your house.

Extra supplies to include during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, bar or liquid soap
  • disinfectant wipes (if available)
  • Two masks for each person over age 2​

Involve your children in planning and packing—you can make it a game by doing a scavenger hunt. Remember to check expiration dates and have kids help with remembering and doing that, too. The more you make it something regular and ordinary, the better.

Hopefully, your emergency preparations will never be more than a game. But should a disaster ever hit, they will be the most important game your family ever played.


By Claire McCarthy, MD, FAAP and Scott Needle, MD, FAAP. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics AAP Council on Children and Disasters (Copyright © 2020). 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.

Backyard Pool Safety

Swimming pools can have a powerful pull on little children―even when it’s not swimming time. Those glistening turquoise-blue ripples may look especially inviting to an active toddler or an overly confident preschooler.

Kids can slip away from the watchful eyes of adults in seconds. It happens every day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends several ways parents can help keep children safe around home swimming pools and hot tubs―all year long―in your own backyard, your neighbor’s, or on vacation.

Fact: Most drownings in kids 4 and under happen in home swimming pools.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) studied drownings among children age 4 and under in Arizona, California, and Florida, where pools are especially common. It found that nearly 70% of the children were not expected to be at or in the pool, yet they were found in the water. In fact, 46% of the children were last seen in the house.

Pool fences. Safety precautions not ​to ignore.

Pool fences are for above-ground pools that are portable as well as those that are permanent, in-ground pools, and hot tubs.

Between 2013 and 2015, most (58%) drownings among children age 4 and under took place in a pool or spa at their own home. Most children drowned when they wander out of the house and fell into a swimming pool that was not fenced off from the house. They slipped out a door, climbed out a window, or even crawled through a doggy door to access the pool.

But, a family swimming pool isn’t the only one a child can get into unnoticed. More than a quarter (27%) of drownings among children age 4 and under took place at the home of a friend, relative or neighbor. Only some individual states and municipalities have laws requiring pool safety fences; there is no national pool fence law. Whenever your child will be in someone else’s home, always check for ways your child could access pools and other potential hazards.

Fact: Fences are the most effective, proven way to prevent drowning of young children.

Pool Fencing Recommendations:

  • 4 feet, 4 sides. The pool fence should be at least 4 feet high and completely surround the pool, separating it from the house and the rest of the yard.
  • Climb-proof. The fence shouldn’t have any footholds, handholds, or objects such as lawn furniture or play equipment the child could use to climb over the fence. Chain-link fences are very easy to climb and are not recommended as pool fences. (If they are used, make sure openings are 1¾ inches or smaller in size).
  • Slat space. To ensure a small child can’t squeeze through the fence, make sure vertical slats have no more than 4 inches of space between them. This will also help keep small pets safe, too.
  • Latch height. The fence should have a self-closing and self-latching gate that only opens out, away from the pool area. The latch should be out of a child’s reach—at least 54 inches from the ground.
  • Gate locked, toy-free. When the pool is not in use, make sure the gate is locked. Keep toys out of the pool area when it is not in use.

Alarms. A child drowning is rarely heard.

Beyond a fence, additional layers of protection such as pool alarms, door and gate alarms, and pool covers can provide some added safety around a pool. Make sure alarms are in good shape with fresh batteries, and keep in mind none are substitutes for a properly installed pool fence.

Drowning is silent. Alarms break that silence.

  • Pool alarms. Children can drown within seconds, with barely a splash. Swimming pool alarms can detect waves on the water’s surface and sound off to attract attention when someone has fallen into the pool.
  • Consider alarms on the pool fence gate and house doors. Door and gate alarms can be equipped with touchpads to let adults pass through without setting them off. House doors should be locked if a child could get to the pool through them.
  • Window guards. These can be especially helpful for windows on the house that face the pool.

A word on pool covers:

Pool covers should cover the entire pool securely enough that a child can’t slip under them. Make sure no standing water collects on top—children can drown in less than 2 inches of water. Power-operated covers are often the safest and easiest to use. Remember: Floating solar and winter covers are not safety covers and can actually increase drowning risk. Because a floating cover makes the pool surface appear solid, a small child might try to retrieve a ball or other light toy that landed on it and quickly slip underneath—often trapped and hidden from view. ​

What Else Can Parents Do?

Even with safety measures in place, parents should be prepared in case that their child gets into a swimming pool unseen.

Some precautions that may help:

  • Assign a water watcher. His or her job is to watch all children swimming or playing in or NEAR water―such as on a backyard swing set―even if they know how to swim. This person should:
    • not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
    • put down his or her cell phone
    • avoid other activities
    • supervise even if there are lifeguards
    • switch off with another adult for breaks
  • Life jackets: Put your child in a properly fitted US Coast Guard approved life jacket when around or near water, such as when visiting a home with a pool.
  • Swim lessons. The AAP recommends swim lessons as a layer of protection against drowning that can begin for many children starting at age 1.
  • CPR training. Parents, caregivers, and pool owners should know CPR and how to get emergency help. Keep equipment approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, such as life preservers and life jackets at poolside.
  • Check the water first. If a child is missing, look for him or her in the pool or spa first. This is especially important if your child is prone to wandering.

Last Updated: 7/13/2020. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2019). 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.


Hand Sanitizers: Keep Children Safe from Poisoning Risk

​​​​​Washing hands with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds is the best way for children to get rid of germs, including COVID-19. If soap and water are not available, they can use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

However, swallowing just a tiny amount of hand sanitizer can cause poisoning in children. Many hand sanitizers are made with alcohol or rubbing alcohol (ethanol, ethyl alcohol, or isopropanol, isopropyl alcohol). Alcohol poisoning symptoms include sleepiness, low blood sugar, seizures and coma, and it can be fatal.

Children and adults also have been poisoned after using hand sanitizer that contained methanol (also called wood alcohol, methyl alcohol, or methylated spirits). It should not be used in hand sanitizer, and these products were recently recalled. Methanol is toxic if swallowed or after repeated use on skin. It may cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to keep hand sanitizers out of children’s reach. Don’t forget about travel-size bottles of sanitizer in purses, diaper bags, backpacks and cars. Parents and caregivers also should supervise children ages 5 and younger when they use hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizer & COVI​​D-19
As families began buying more hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Poison Data System started getting more reports of unintentional exposures in children. In the first half of 2020, there have been 46% more reported cases about hand sanitizer than during the same time last year. Many reports were about children ages 5 years and younger.

Health experts recommend using hand sanitizer that is 60% to 95% alcohol to kill the virus that causes COVID-19. Drinking alcohol typically has 5% to 40% alcohol.

Check th​​e label
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began letting companies that do not normally produce hand sanitizer make and sell it during the COVID-19 pandemic. When buying hand sanitizer, parents should make sure it has a label that lists the ingredients, warnings and precautions.

To reduce the risk of injury from children drinking hand sanitizers, producers should add ingredients to make them taste bitter. This important step helps prevent children from eating the product. However, the FDA has been alerted that some young people have tried drinking hand sanitizers from distilleries that have not taken the step to make them taste bad.

To help make sure the sanitizer’s taste will not appeal to children, look for the word “denatured” on the bottle. You can also check for bitter ingredients such as denatonium benzoate (Bitrex); sucrose octaacetate; or butanol (also called tert-butyl alcohol).

Some products are made with isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol). Be especially careful with these sanitizers around children, since they can be more toxic than those made with ethanol or ethyl alcohol.

A word about homemade​​ hand sanitizers
​With some shortages of hand sanitizers during the COVID-19 crisis, it may be tempting to make your own hand sanitizer. However, this may not be the best option. The FDA warns that if made incorrectly, hand sanitizer may not work. There have also been reports of skin burns from homemade hand sanitizer.

Disposing of ​recalled products
Do not flush or pour recalled hand sanitizers down the drain. These products should be disposed of in hazardous waste containers, if possible. If unsure, check with your local waste management and recycling center.

Remem​​ber…
Call 911 right away if your child has collapsed, is having a seizure, is having a hard time breathing, or if they can’t wake up after using or swallowing hand sanitizer products. If you have questions about hand sanitizer product safety, call your regional poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 or visit WebPoisonControl.


Source: AAP Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention (Copyright © 2020). 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.

Stay Safe this 4th of July

On any other day of the year, would you hand your child matches or a flaming candle to play with? Probably, a hard no. You work so hard all year long to keep your child safe. Don’t let the 4th of July mess with your common sense.

With many 4th of July fireworks shows cancelled because of COVID-19 this year, there’s been a big jump in consumer fireworks sold. Lighting fireworks in the backyard or nearby field might seem like a festive and fun way to entertain the kids. However, thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured each year while using fireworks.

Most of these injuries happen in the month around the 4th of July. In fact, an average of 180 people go to the emergency room with fireworks-related injuries every day during this time!

The AAP is part of the Alliance to Stop Consumer Fireworks, a group of health and safety organizations that urges the public to avoid the use of consumer fireworks and to only enjoy displays of fireworks conducted by trained professionals.

Fireworks were involved at least 12 deaths and more than 10,000 injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2019, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Children under 15 accounted for more than a third of the injuries, which included burns and wounds to the hands, fingers and arms, the head and face, and eyes. Some of the most severe and fatal injuries happened when lit fireworks seemed not to work correctly and were being held by the victim when they exploded.

SAFER WAYS TO CELEBRATE

View from a distance.
While there are fewer community firework displays this year, some are going forward with firm social distancing rules in place. Some communities will be launching the fireworks higher so they can be seen from farther distances. Others are being held in parking lots so families can stay in their cars to view them. In addition, some displays will be televised for home viewing.

Wave a flag instead of a sparkler. Sparklers may seem relatively harmless, as fireworks go. But according to the CPSC, nearly half of fireworks injuries to children under age 5 are related to sparklers. Surprising? Consider this:

  • Sparklers burn at an extremely high heat: 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals.
  • Sparks can ignite clothing on fire and cause eye injuries.
  • Touching a lit sparkler to skin can result in third degree burns.

There were about 900 emergency department-treated injuries associated with sparklers in 2019. Roughly 800 more injuries were related to firecrackers, and 400 more to bottle rockets.

Even if fireworks are legal to purchase and use in your community, they are not safe around children.

Keep the 4th of July fun, and leave the fireworks to the professionals.


Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). 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.

How Parents Can Keep Kids Busy (and Learning) in Quarantine

Michelle Martin, a professor at the University of Washington’s Information School and the founder of a summer literacy program for children, says, “It’s really easy for kids to feel depressed about how bad things are: I’m never going to go back to school. I’m never going to see my friends again. So I think we need to be cognizant of how much of that they’re absorbing — and try to replace that with some things that are positive.”

Read more in this great article by Ashley Fetters in The Atlantic: “How Parents Can Keep Kids Busy (and Learning) in Quarantine”

Social Distancing: Why Keeping Your Distance Helps Keep Others Safe

As the spread of COVID-19 continues, communities are being asked to reduce close contact between people. This is called social distancing, and it’s an important and effective way to slow down the spread of this virus. Here’s why.

“Social distancing” for all fa​milies

Because COVID-19 spreads from person to person, reducing the ways people come in close contact with each other is essential. Social distancing means staying home as much as possible and avoiding crowded, public places where close contact with others is likely. This includes shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums, even large church gatherings. This is why most events and gatherings of more than 10 people have been cancelled, why restaurants and bars are closing, and why many schools have moved to online learning. For essential trips like grocery shopping, the CDC recommends trying to stay at least 6 feet away from others.

Self-isol​​​ation

COVID-19 can spread from person to person even before symptoms start. So, if someone in your family starts to feel even slightly ill, run down, tired, or achy, it’s important to stay home and practice “self isolation.” This means limiting contact with others. If more severe symptoms develop, like a fever, cough or shortness of breath, call your doctor. They will let you know if a COVID-19 test is needed, and what the next steps should be. If it is believed someone in your family has COVID-19, quarantine will likely be recommended.

Quara​​ntine

Self-isolation and quarantine both mean you have no contact with the public. However, quarantine is the term used for those who were exposed to a person with COVID-19 but have yet to test positive. These people are asked to stay away from others for 14 days or longer, to make sure they do not spread the virus during this “pre-illness” or incubation period.

Why social distan​cing is important

Social distancing is an essential way to slow down the spread of COVID-19. And it’s important that you follow the social distancing recommendations in your community, whether you’re in one of the high-risk groups or not.

​With more and more schools closing and people working from home, it may be tempting to get kids together for pl​aydates or sleepovers, or to think that gatherings of more than 10 people are safe. But social distancing only works if we all participate. And slowing down or preventing the spread of the virus will save lives.​​​​

​Remem​​ber

The spread of COVID-19 has been rapid and federal, state, and local governments are doing whatever is necessary to protect all of us from getting sick. While most people who become infected will have symptoms similar to a cold or the flu, and children seem less affected by the virus than adults, we all are responsible for protecting those at higher risk. Steps like social distancing may feel like an inconvenience, but it’s the best way right now to protect our family, friends, and neighbors who may be vulnerable.

If you are concerned that someone in your family may be at higher risk, you can contact your doctor to discuss what preventative measures may be appropriate for you.


Written by Corinn Cross, MD FAAP, is an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) spokesperson, an active member the academy’s Council on Communications and Media, a Member-At-Large of her local California AAP Chapter-2 and a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). 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.

Working and Learning from Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak

To help contain COVID-19, many schools are moving children to online learning at home. In addition, many parents are being asked to work from home. These forms of social distancing are needed to help slow the spread of the virus and prevent overloading the health care system.

But many families now face new challenges: how do we care for our children while working and schooling at home, and not panic during this unprecedented outbreak? The first step: take a deep breath. Know that we are all in this together. And together we will get through it.

Here are some other tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help you cope with this “new normal” until the virus is under control.

Slow the spread

It may be tempting to get kids together for play dates or sleepovers, but this should be avoided. Social distancing only works if we all participate. And slowing down or preventing the spread of the virus will save lives.

Protect grandparents. This is also not the time to visit grandparents or ask them to help out with child care duties. People who are over age 60 are at higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19 and should not increase that risk by being around children who may be ill with mild symptoms. However, they may feel alone or disconnected during social distancing, so keep up communications through phone calls, texting, or video chats.

Keep a routine

Since changes in routine can be stressful, it will be helpful to talk with your kids about why they are staying home and what your daily structure will be during this time. Let them help create a daily schedule that can hang on the refrigerator or somewhere they can see it each day. Be sure to include breaks from tele-work or schoolwork to relax and connect with each other.

Here are some ideas to help you create a daily schedule:

  • Wake up, get dressed and have breakfast at the normal time.
  • Decide where everyone can do their work most effectively and without distractions.
  • List the times for learning, exercise and breaks.
  • For younger children, 20 minutes of class assignments followed by 10 minutes of physical activity might work well.
  • Older children and teens may be able to focus on assignments for longer stretches, taking breaks between subjects.
  • Include your hours as well, so your children know when the work day is done.
  • Schedule time for nutritious lunches and snacks. Many schools are providing take-home school meal packages for students who need them.
  • Don’t forget afternoon breaks as well!
  • Have dinner together as a family and discuss the day.
  • Enjoy more family time in the evenings, playing, reading, watching a movie or exercising together.
  • Stick with normal bedtime routines as much as possible during the week to make sure everyone gets enough sleep.

Try not to have the news on all day. It is best not to have the news on while kids are in the room as it can increase their fear and anxiety (and yours!). If they do listen to the news, talk together about what they are hearing and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear.

Should I worry about extra screen time right now?

While limits are still important, it’s understandable that under these stressful circumstances, kids’ screen media use will likely increase. Here are some ways to help keep media use positive and helpful:

  • Contact teachers about educational online and offline activities your children should do. Preschool teachers may not have an online curriculum to share, but good options include PBS Kids, which is sending out a daily newsletter with show and activity ideas.
  • Use social media for good. Check in with your neighbors, friends and loved ones. If schools are closed, find out if there are ways to help students who need meals or internet access for at-home learning.
  • Use media for social connection. Social distancing can be isolating. If your kids are missing their school friends or other family, try video chats or social media to stay in touch.
  • Choose quality content and use trusted sources to find it. Common Sense Media, for example, suggests 25 dance​​ games and other active apps, websites, and video games​ for families hunkering down right now.
  • Use media together. This is a great opportunity to monitor what your older children are seeing online and follow what your children are learning. Even watching a family movie together can help everyone relax while you appreciate the storytelling and meaning that movies can bring.
  • Take your child (virtually) to work. Working from home? Use this time as a chance to show your kids a part of your world. Encouraging imaginative “work” play may be a way to apply “take your child to work day” without ever leaving home!
  • Limits are still important. As always, technology use should not push out time needed for needed sleep, physical activity, reading, or family connection. Make a plan about how much time kids can play video games online with friends, and where their devices will charge at night.

Remember

Staying at home and other social distancing recommendations may feel like an inconvenience, but it’s the best way right now to protect our family, friends, and neighbors who may be vulnerable.

If anyone in your home starts showing symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor to discuss what to do.


Written by Corinn Cross, MD FAAP. Source: American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020). 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.

Let’s talk about Telemedicine

Hello to all our Pediatrics Plus families! We’ve received a lot of questions about “telemedicine,” so we wanted to reach out with some information for you.

“Telemedicine” (or “telehealth”) is a medical visit that you do online from home on a computer or phone (any device with a webcam will work!). While far from our preferred way to care for our patients, it has become a short-term necessity.

All of our clinicians (including Cristina Zurlis, our social worker) are available for telemedicine visits. We know this is a stressful time for many children and families. If you feel your child would benefit from a few telemedicine sessions with Cristina Zurlis to discuss stress-reduction techniques/coping skills, please do reach out to her. Cristina can be reached directly at (475) 800-8088, or you can leave a message for her through our receptionists (203) 239-4627.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Our clinicians are all available in the office for well visits/physicals. We encourage you to bring your child in for their well visits, especially if they are due for vaccines.
  • We are not able to do a well visit/physical with telemedicine, but we can do almost any other type of visit, including fever, cough, sore throat, ear pain, stomach pain, and rashes.
  • These visits are billed to your insurance like a normal office visit.

To schedule a telemedicine visit:

  • Call our office during normal business hours (currently 9am to 5pm) to talk with our receptionists/nurses.
  • You’ll need to provide our office with the email address you want to use to receive the appointment link, and they’ll also verify your insurance and contact information.
  • You’ll be given an appointment time.
  • At or before the appointment time, you’ll receive an email from Doxy.me with a link to click for your appointment. Click that link at the appointment time.
  • You don’t need a Doxy.me account, and you don’t need to give Doxy.me any personal information. Doxy.me is HIPPA compliant, and the visits are not recorded.
  • You do need a computer, phone, or tablet with webcam and microphone enabled. The patient and parent/caregiver both need to be available at the appointment time and in the same room.
  • It’s very helpful if you have a flashlight to help us better look in your child’s throat (a cell phone flashlight works fine). If you have a thermometer and/or home pulse oximeter, have those handy too.
  • After the visit, your clinician can send any prescriptions they feel are medically necessary (like antibiotics) to your pharmacy or other medically necessary testing such as Covid-19 testing.

To Our Pediatrics Plus Families

We’re taking every step we can to protect you and your children — and our entire community — during this COVID-19 outbreak. We are closely following updates from the state health department and Yale New Haven Hospital and will keep you updated if recommendations change or as new information becomes available. To help ensure the health and safety of our patients, we are making some temporary changes to our scheduling procedure. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience these changes may cause.

For the next two weeks (and longer if needed), we have made the following changes:

  1. We will be seeing well visits only in the morning (physicals, baby weight checks, etc).
  2. Our office will close at 5pm but, as always, a nurse or clinician is available when the office is closed to address any concerns that cannot wait until normal office hours. By shifting our evening clinicians’ hours to earlier in the day, we hope to maximize the number of well visits we can accommodate each day while still having plenty of time available for acute visits.
  3. If you think your child needs an office visit due to illness, injury, or other concerns, please call to speak with one of our nurses to determine if your questions can be answered over the phone, if your child needs a telemedicine visit online with one of our clinicians, or if your child needs an afternoon in-office visit with one of our clinicians.
  4. We have new cleaning protocols in place, especially for commonly-touched surfaces.
  5. We’ve temporarily removed toys, magazines, and books from our waiting room and exam rooms, as they are difficult to clean between patient visits.

Please help us keep our patients and staff healthy by abiding by the following guidelines:

  1. When you arrive for your appointment, please stay in your car and call to tell us you’ve arrived. When a room is available, you’ll be directed to come directly to your clean exam room.
  2. If a patient or parent/caregiver or sibling has ANY potentially contagious symptoms (including fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea) or has been exposed to COVID, please do not come into our office at this time, especially for well visits. If we are concerned that anyone in your family is exhibiting these symptoms when you arrive for your visit, your visit will be rescheduled.
  3. If possible, please leave siblings at home and have only one adult accompany your child for appointments in our office.
  4. If our clinicians (or other staff members) develop any symptoms of COVID, we will have them stay home for the safety of our patients and staff. We apologize if this leads to your child’s appointment being moved or rescheduled.

Children and COVID-19

COVID-19 is a coronavirus, a type of virus that usually causes the common cold. COVID-19 is a new strain of the virus that behaves differently than previous strains, causing severe illness in some. The evidence so far suggests that children have been getting COVID-19 but generally experience mild symptoms with the disease.

We understand that the current situation with COVID-19 can be scary for both parents and children. However, there are some things that we can do to help prevent the spread of this virus. Everyone should follow common sense precautions such as:

  • Staying home when sick
  • Avoiding large events or groups of people
  • Good handwashing
  • Not touching our faces

What is potentially concerning is if children spread COVID-19 to those around them. Older adults and those with significant health concerns are at much higher risk of serious disease. This is why the state health department and medical advisors have been recommending limiting contacts and canceling large gatherings that put older family members at risk.

This website has useful information about COVID-19, including suggestions for how to talk to your child about the virus:

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/2019-Novel-Coronavirus.aspx

We hope to have information for you soon about COVID-19 testing in our area. For now, Yale New Haven Health has started a free COVID-19 hotline to provide information and answer questions about the virus: (203) 688-1700 (toll-free: (833) 484-1200), 7am to 7pm.