• Healthy Hints

    Healthy Hints from the School Nurse

    Happy 2018!  I hope everyone enjoyed a nice holiday break and is ready for a great new year. Winter is upon us and so are the many challenges to stay warm, safe and healthy during these coming months. Here are a few tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics to get you through the cold winter.

    To stay warm: Dress in thin layers as they offer better insulation than bulkier clothing.  It is a good rule of thumb to dress younger children in one layer more than an adult would wear for warmth. Wear a hat. Children lose much of their body heat from their head and ears are especially susceptible to frostbite. Remove wet clothes, mittens and socks promptly. Mittens will keep hands warmer than gloves. Check children periodically to be sure that they are warm and dry. Children can succumb to hypothermia quickly. Signs of hypothermia include shivering followed by lethargy, clumsiness, and slurred speech. If you suspect hypothermia, bring your child inside, call 911, remove all wet clothing and cover them with blankets. Temperatures with wind chill of -15 degrees F can quickly cause frostbite. Signs of frostbite: red, tingly skin followed by graying and finally painful, white skin which is usually seen on nose, ears, cheeks, fingers, and toes. If your child experiences frostbite, do not rub the area. Bring them inside, take off any wet clothes, and apply warm, not hot, compresses (104 degrees F) to the affected area.  Get medical assistance, especially if the area is blistering. Also remember to wear sunglasses and apply sunscreen to exposed areas particularly if you are at higher altitudes.

    For outdoor safety: Avoid clothing that could be caught on things.  Remove drawstrings from clothing and consider neck warmers rather than scarves. When sledding, remind children to go feet first and in a seated position. Always accompany any child under the age of five years on a sled. If you are considering a helmet for sledding, opt for a ski or hockey helmet; bike helmets are not proper protection for sledding or tobogganing. Always supervise children if they are building snow forts or tunnels.

    For indoor safety: If using a space heater, place it at least three feet from anything that may catch fire such as drapes, furniture, or bedding, and never cover your space heater.     Do not place a space heater on top of furniture or near water. Always supervise children in a room with a space heater. Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater. If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it. Store a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated. Check the batteries of your carbon monoxide detector and insure there is one on every level of your home.

    Other Quick Reminders:                                                                                                                  Please include me, oharapau@cranfordschools.org or call 908-709-6246, with information about absences. Send your students dressed appropriately for outdoor recess. Please check and empty your voice mailboxes periodically. This will help ensure that I am able to leave a message in the event of your child becoming ill or injured during school. ~ Paula O’Hara, Brookside Place School Nurse


    Healthy Hints from the School Nurse

    The holidays are upon us and I wish all the Brookside families a healthy and happy season.  To that end, here are a few tips for holiday health and safety.

    For Your Health:                                                                                                                                                           

    Eat\Right: Getting the proper protein, vitamins and minerals will help your immune system and keep that holiday weight gain to a minimum.                                                                                                                                                                

    Sleep Tight: Sleep plays an important role in maintaining a robust immune system.  Studies have shown that lack of sleep diminishes your t-cells which fight illness.                                                                          

    Wash Up: Washing your hands is the single most effective way to prevent colds and flu.  Whenever you return home from crowded shopping malls, the gym, work or play, scrub off those germs.                     

    Flu Vaccine: It is not too late to be vaccinated.  All the crowds, parties, and holiday travel, can mean lots of person-to-person interactions.  It is a good idea to be protected from the flu so it does not dampen your celebrations.                                                                                                                                                      

    Stay Home: If you are ill, choose to stay home.  Even though you may hate to miss the fun, your hostess and your body will thank you.   Adequate rest will help you recover more quickly so you can be ready for the next get together.                    

    For Your Safety:                                                                                          

    Each holiday season, emergency rooms treat approximately 12,500 patients for decorating mishaps, accidental burns, or poisonings.

    • Be safe when using a ladder. Make sure it is placed 1 foot away from the wall for every 4 feet it extends in height and remember to refrain from standing on the two highest rungs. It’s always a good idea to have someone “spot’ you.                    
    • Set your tree away from heating vents and your fireplace.
    • Place candles away from drafts, curtains or other flammable items and keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
    • Place decorations with holly and mistletoe up high; the berries and the leaves of these plants are poisonous to humans and pets. Also, poinsettia plants, while not considered poisonous, may cause vomiting or mouth and skin irritation.
    • Store your guests’ handbags beyond the reach of young children. Accidental poisonings may occur when children find medication in purses.    
    • If you have small children or pets, remember that seasonal decorations and toys, such as pine cones, berries and dreidels, can become choking hazards.     

    In Other News

    When communicating an upcoming absence with the teacher, please include me in your email:  oharapau@cranfordschools.org                                                                                 

    Send your children dressed for outdoor play at recess. We attempt to have outside recess as much as possible.                                                                                                                

    Please remember, if your child needs any medication during the school day (prescription, over the counter, nasal sprays, etc.), it must be dispensed by the nurse and a doctor’s note is required.                                                                                                      

    Have a wonderful holiday season full of family, friends and good health.

    ~ Paula O’Hara, Brookside Place School Nurse



    Healthy Hints from the School Nurse

    The month of November brings cooler weather, raking leaves, and Thanksgiving gatherings with family and friends.  When making your To Do Lists for fall cleanup and entertaining, consider adding these items to ensure your family’s healthy and safety as well:

    1. Get the flu vaccine. As mentioned in the October Healthy Hints,  an annual flu vaccine is an important tool for preventing flu.  Each year, the vaccine is reconfigured to prevent against the three strains that research indicates will be prevalent each season.  Antibodies develop two weeks after the vaccine and will protect you for the season.  It is not too late to get vaccinated.  The vaccine can still provide immunity even after the flu season begins. 
    1. Have your furnace checked and be sure to have working carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home. Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because it kills 200 people each year but is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas.  Breathing carbon monoxide fumes reduces the body’s ability to absorb and use oxygen. Oxygen deprivation leads to the symptoms of headache, weakness, drowsiness, confusion, unconsciousness and, if untreated, death. 
    1. Review hygiene and good hand washing with your children. November is Healthy Skin Month and healthy, intact skin prevents illness and infection.  Regular hand washing is the single best (and easiest) way to prevent the spread of germs.   Remind your children to use lots of soap and lather up for 20 seconds (sing their ABC’s twice) making sure they wash their fingers, hands and wrists.  Dry well.  Along with clean hands pay special attention to fingernails. Many germs are harbored under nail tips.   They need to be kept trimmed and clean as well.  Scrubbing with a nail brush should be part of the daily routine. Also remember to cover open cuts and watch for signs of infection (redness, swelling, drainage and tenderness). 
    1. Stay active. No matter how hectic the schedule gets, squeeze in time for healthy outdoor activity. Being outdoors in the cold does not cause a cold.  Fresh air actually gives you an opportunity to get away from the germs and viruses contained in closed space.

    Brookside Business:

    • Please check your cell phone mailboxes and delete any old and unwanted messages. Often I or the student are unable to leave a message because the “mailbox is full.” 
    • As the cold weather approaches I want to remind parents/guardians that we are a non-idling zone. To keep the surrounding air healthy for our students, we ask that you turn your car off while you wait at drop off and pick up. Thank you.


    ~ Paula O’Hara, Brookside Place School Nurse

    fall trees

    Healthy Hints from the School Nurse

    September has flown by and October is here! Your to-do list most likely includes creating the perfect costume for your children and stocking up on candy.  It is also a good idea to add “get a flu shot” to your list. 

    The death of more than 100 children from influenza during the 2016-17 season underscores the importance of being immunized.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that everyone aged 6 months or older receive the flu vaccine by the end of October.  (Of course, while October is the ideal time, being vaccinated anytime during the season is beneficial).  The vaccine is inactive so you cannot get the flu from the vaccine. And it is not contraindicated in children with mild febrile illness or upper respiratory infections. So why wait? Protect your family from the flu. Please note that unlike other vaccines, you are not required to send a note from your doctor.

    As you enter or leave the building, stop by the nurse’s office door for helpful parent information. The new “Parent/Guardian Place” will feature recent information about children’s health.

    Since the highlight of this month is Halloween, I have included safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics. I hope these help ensure that all Brookside trick-or-treaters have a safe holiday.

    ~ Paula O’Hara, Brookside Place School Nurse


    Halloween Safety Tips

    Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).


    • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
    • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and trick-or-treat bags for greater visibility.
    • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes. Makeup should be tested ahead of time on a small patch of skin to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises on the big day.
    • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
    • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child's costume, make sure it is not sharp or long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
    • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. While the packaging on decorative lenses will often make claims such as "one size fits all," or "no need to see an eye specialist," obtaining decorative contact lenses without a prescription is both dangerous and illegal. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections, which may lead to permanent vision loss.
    • Review with children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they ever have an emergency or become lost.                                                                                           


    • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
    • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
    • Wet leaves or snow should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
    • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.


    • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
    • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
    • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
    • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
    • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or-Treaters:
      • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
      • Remember reflective tape for costumes and trick-or-treat bags.
      • Carry a cellphone for quick communication.
      • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
      • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
      • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
      • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
      • Don't assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn't mean others will!
      • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.


    • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
    • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
    • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
    • Try to ration treats for the days and weeks following Halloween.

    ©2016 American Academy of Pediatrics