Outdoor Safety

In spring, the weather is getting warm, and you and your family can go outside and be physically active. Whether you go biking, geocaching, hiking, walking, or swimming, you should consider some safety measures. Following safety measures like wearing helmets and sunscreen are essential to protect you and your family while you enjoy the outdoors. Here are tips to keep you and your family safe during outdoor activities:

  • Wear helmets correctly. Helmets can protect you and your child while you participate in activities like baseball, rollerblading, and bike riding. Helmets should be well maintained, age-suitable, and appropriately certified for use, and they should be worn regularly and correctly. Learn about helmets and how to make sure you are wearing them properly at HEADS UP.
  • Drink water and stay well hydrated. Water is healthy and has zero calories and no added sugar. Water is essential for the body – drinking it helps keep joints, bones, and teeth healthy; allows the blood to circulate; and may improve your mood. Drinking water keeps us hydrated while we engage in outside activities. When you sweat, you need to replace the water your body has lost. During activities like running, biking, and playing soccer, your child should drink water before, during, and after the activity. Hereis more information about the benefits of drinking water and staying hydrated.
  • Wear the proper footwear. Biking in flip-flops, hiking in high-heeled shoes, and playing soccer in slippers are not recommended. Wearing the right shoe for the activity can decrease your chances of injury. Proper fitting shoes cushion and support the foot, feel comfortable, and fit well. You can learn more about safe footwear from the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society here.
  • Use sunscreen. Sunburns and skin damage can happen even on cloudy days. Try to put on sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside. Use an SPF of 15 or higher. Remember, reapply sunscreen after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. You can find additional sun safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.
  • Limit cellphone distraction. Research says that most playground injuries happen when parents focus on cell phones instead of watching and playing with their children (Lemish, 2019). While playing with your child outside, try to use your cell phone on a limited basis and only as needed.

Getting outside and getting physical activity can be an enjoyable experience for you and your family. Just remember to be safe and have fun!



American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society (2021). How do I choose shoes for my child? FootCare MD. https://www.footcaremd.org/resources/how-to-help/how-to-select-childrens-shoes

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Heads-up helmet safety. https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/helmets/index.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Sun safety tips for families. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety-tips-families.htm

Healthy Children (2020). Choose water for healthy hydration. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Choose-Water-for-Healthy-Hydration.aspx


Lemish, D., Elias, N., & Floegal, D., (2020) Look at me! Parental use of mobile phones at the playground. SAGE Journals, 8(2), 179-187. https://doi.org/10.1177/2050157919846916



Healthy ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month

We all know we should practice healthy eating habits for our general health and well-being. Parents want their children to be healthy, so they follow healthy eating habits with their children throughout the year – but March is National Nutrition Month, so parents can use March to dedicate extra time and attention to nutrition! Here are a few ideas to inspire you and your family to focus on good nutrition and healthy eating for National Nutrition Month!

Try choosing one of the following healthy eating challenges during the month of March!

  • Make your own taste test kitchen at home and try new foods! This is one way to introduce your children to foods that they may normally refuse to try or maybe never have had the opportunity to try. Think outside of your regular food items and explore different spices and tastes together. For example, you might try kiwi or star fruit, or even foods made with saffron and cardamom or other spices from different parts of the world.
  • Try to eat breakfast as a family. Eating a healthy, well-balanced breakfast can be a good way to begin your day together. MyPlate is a resource for information on what constitutes a well-balanced meal.
  • Try limiting sweetened beverages by drinking water with slices of lemons or limes and play an educational game! Rethink Your Drink demonstration is a fun way to teach your children about healthy beverages choices.
  • Teach your children how to read a nutrition facts label. This can be an activity for the whole family. Look through your pantry or cupboards for grocery items, read the labels, and talk about the ingredients. Make a game out of it, like the person who finds the label with the least number of ingredients gets to pick the dinner menu for Friday night.
  • Use the MyPlate website to find games and activities for children of all ages. Get creative!

Any small change that you make to improve the nutrition of you and your family this month is a big success!



Action for healthy kids. (n.d.). Rethink your drink [Activity]. https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/activity/rethink-your-drink/

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2021) Myplate.gov. https://www.myplate.gov/life-stages/kids



Action for healthy kids. (n.d.). Celebrate National Nutrition Month. Healthy Kids Blog. https://www.actionforhealthykids.org/activity/celebrate-national-nutrition-month/



Children under 24 months are sweet enough without adding sugar!

Dietary guidelines for Americans are issued every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services. The 2020-2025 guidelines include updated information about added sugar for children younger than 24 months and recommend these children do not receive any added sugars. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated labels to include information on whether a food has added sugars and how much. 

Read the labels

The biggest sources of added sugars in the typical American diet are soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, snacks, and candy. An example of information about added sugar in packaged foods is now available on the “Nutrition Facts” label (FDA, 2021).

What is added sugar?

Many foods or beverages have extra sugar and syrups added to them when they are processed or prepared. These added sugars have many different names, such as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose (FDA, 2021).

Here are a few ideas for how you can help your family reduce added sugar intake:

  • Read nutrition facts labels carefully (CDC, 2020). Many foods now list whether a food has added sugar and/or the amount of added sugar. You also can find information about added sugar by reading the ingredients. Avoid serving foods and drinks with added sugar to children under 2 years old. Learn more about nutrition facts labels here (Healthy Children, 2020).
  • Serve water and milk. Avoid serving soda, sports drinks, sweet tea, sweetened coffee, and fruit drinks. Milk is a good beverage choice, and it contains natural sugar (lactose) and provides calcium, protein, vitamin D, and other nutrients children need.
  • Limit fruit juice. Fruit juice has more sugar per serving than whole fruit. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 4 ounces of 100% fruit juice a day for children ages 1 through 3 years old. It is recommended that you do not give fruit juice to infants under 1 year old (Healthy Children, 2020).
  • Go fresh and limit processed, pre-packed food and drinks. Sugar is often added to processed and pre-packaged food items while they are being made or at the table. For example, there are hidden sources of added sugar in processed foods like ketchup, dried cranberries, salad dressings, and baked beans (CDC, 2020).
  • Satisfy your child’s sweet tooth with whole fruit (Healthy Children, 2020). Keep bananas, oranges, or grapes in your young child’s line of sight, and offer these and other fruits regularly.

By limiting sugar and avoiding added sugars in your child’s diet, you are helping to ensure proper nutrition and a healthy beginning for your child. An app is available through the USDA My Plate Campaign to help you follow the new guidelines available on the My Plate website (USDA, 2021).



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, December 17). Food and drinks for 6 to 24 months old. Nutrition. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/foods-and-drinks-to-limit.html

Healthy Children. (2019, March 25). How to reduce added sugar in your child’s diet: APA tips. The American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/How-to-Reduce-Added-Sugar-in-Your-Childs-Diet.aspx

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2021, January 4). Changes to nutrition facts labels. https://www.fda.gov/food/food-labeling-nutrition/changes-nutrition-facts-label

U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). What’s on your plate? MyPlate. https://www.myplate.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020,

December). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 (9th ed.). https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf

Don’t let the juice loose!

The increasing rates of childhood obesity are alarming. Studies have shown that what children drink can play an important role in maintaining children’s health and, ultimately, children’s weight (Cleveland Clinic, 2019). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), warns that excessive daily sugar intake may lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. Therefore, the AAP recommends aiming for less than 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons) of added sugar per day for children 2 years of age and older.

Many parents and caregivers offer children fruit juices and fruit drinks and may think they are giving their children needed vitamins or nutrients, but this may not always be the case. Nutrition facts can be found on the back of the juice packaging (e.g., bottle, box), and parents/caregivers should look carefully at the ingredients and at the amount of sugar per serving in the drink.

Here’s a closer look at how much sugar is in popular children’s drinks. Each teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams (remember, aim for less than 25 grams of added sugar per day) (Penn State Extension, n.d.):

Drink Serving Size Amount of sugar
Soda 8-ounce cup 26 grams (less than 1 can) = 6.5 tsp.
Fruit punch juice drink 8-ounce cup 30 grams = 7.5 tsp.
Fruit punch cocktail 8-ounce cup 34 grams = 8.5 tsp.
100% juice (no sugar added) 8-ounce cup 26 grams = 6.5 tsp.

Best practices for beverage consumption according to the AAP (2017) are as follows:

  • Water: Available from household water faucets or in bottles or cans, and often a child can access water independently
  • Fruit juice: Offer only products that are 100% juice; limit to no more than 4-6 ounces per day per child and
    encourage parents to support this limit (keep juice from getting on the loose!)
  • Sugary drinks: Never offer these drinks (includes fruit drinks, sports drinks, sweet tea, and soda)
  • Milk: Serve only 1% or non-fat (skim) milk to children 2 years and older (unless otherwise directed by the child’s health provider)

According to the AAP (2017), even 100% fruit juice, while there is no added sugar, is simply sugar from the whole fruit, and the juice lacks the fiber and some nutrients that are found in the whole fruit. Research suggests that drinking juice may lead children to develop a taste for sweet things, which could be detrimental to children’s overall and continued health. In addition, the AAP recommends that fruit juice not be given to infants under 12 months of age since it offers no nutritional benefit to babies in this age group. After 12 months of age, infants may have limited amounts (see recommendations below) of 100% fruit juice daily (APA, 2017). Remember, just because a drink claims to be 100% fruit juice doesn’t mean it’s a healthy option for children (Eichberger, 2018).

Key tips regarding fruit juice follow:

  • Fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit. Whole fruits also provide fiberand other nutrients. Infants should not be given fruit juice at bedtime or as a treatment of dehydration or management of diarrhea.
  • For children ages 1 to 3 years old:Limit fruit juice consumption to no more than 4 ounces each day.
  • For children ages 4 to 6 years of age:Limit fruit juice consumption to 4 to 6 ounces each day.

Additional resources:

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. (2017, July 11). 5210 Make your own sugar bottle display. https://5210.psu.edu/toolkits/

Penn State Extension. (n.d.). The best drinks for kids. Better Kid Care. https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare/early-care/tip-pages/all/the-best-drinks-for-children


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017). Fruit juice and your child’s diet. Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Fruit-Juice-and-Your-Childs-Diet.aspx

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017). Where we stand: fruit juice. Healthy Children. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Where-We-Stand-Fruit-Juice.aspx

Cleveland Clinic. (2019). Parents: Regular milk and water is best for kids. Health Essentials. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/parents-regular-milk-and-water-is-best-for-kids/

Eichberger, S. (2018, August 27). Is fruit juice healthy for kids? Michigan State University Extension Food and Health. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/is-fruit-juice-healthy-for-kids

Penn State Extension. (n.d). The best drinks for kids. Better Kid Care. https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare/early-care/tip-pages/all/the-best-drinks-for-children

Influenza and Children: Your child may benefit more than ever from an Influenza (flu) shot this year!

This year’s flu season will coincide with the ongoing spread of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are cautioning the occurrence of a “Twin-demic.” That is when two diseases spread at the same time. Yes, you can contract Influenza and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm our healthcare systems.

In children, the flu illness is more dangerous than the common cold. There are more than 200 different viruses that cause the common cold, which is an upper respiratory virus that usually only causes symptoms in the nose and throat areas. Rarely does the common cold cause fever or serious complications for children. Influenza or the flu is a lower respiratory infection that attacks the lungs and our oxygen exchange system. The flu commonly causes fevers and reduced oxygen levels, which can lead to very serious and life-threatening illnesses for children, like pneumonia (CDC,2020).

There can be some confusion surrounding the flu shot and how it actually works in our bodies. The flu shot is a vaccination made up of three to four different kinds of influenza virus strains. This year, the flu shot contains the H1N1, Type A, and Type B strains (CDC, 2020). The flu shot has only pieces of the viruses and does not cause the flu. It takes about 2 weeks for the immune system to create antibodies from the flu shot.  Every year, scientists decide what are the best viral strains of the flu to use in the annual flu vaccination, and these strains, on average, have a 45% rate of accuracy (CDC, 2020). Any flu antibodies your body creates will lessen the symptoms and severity of the flu, and you may be better off than if you had not been vaccinated at all (Arriola, 2017).

The flu shot offers several benefits to your child, such as the following:

  • Reduce the spread of flu to others.
  • Reduce flu illnesses and make them shorter and milder if you do get them.
  • Reduce doctor’s visits.
  • Reduce the number of missed school days.
  • Reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalization and death.
  • Provide preventive care for children with chronic health conditions.

The flu shot is very important for children and teenagers who are at high risk of complications from the flu, including those who have the following characteristics:

  • Are between 6 months and 5 years of age.
  • Have chronic heart or lung disorders.
  • Have chronic conditions that weaken the immune system.
  • Have diabetes.
  • Have chronic kidney disease.
  • Have chronic anemia or a hemoglobin disorder.
  • Have a chronic neurological disorder.
  • Are severely obese (body mass index ≥40).
  • Need to take acetylsalicylic acid (ASA or Aspirin) on a daily basis.
  • Live with another child or adult who is at risk of complications from the flu.

In addition to children, pregnant women and individuals and caregivers who care for children less than 5 years of age should also receive the flu shot (Thompson, 2016). Given during pregnancy, the flu shot helps to protect the baby from the flu for several months after birth, which is a time when he or she is not old enough to be vaccinated (Benzowitz, 2010).


Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, August 31). What are the benefits of flu vaccination? https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 11). A strong defense against flu: get vaccinated! https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/general/strong-defense-against-flu.pdf



Arriola, C., Garg, S., Anderson, E. J., Ryan, P. A., George, A., Zansky, S. M., Bennett, N., Reingold, A., Bargsten, M., Miller, L., Yousey-Hindes, K., Tatham, L., Bohm, S. R., Lynfield, R., Thomas, A., Lindegren, M. L., Schaffner, W., Fry, A. M., & Chaves, S. S. (2017). Influenza vaccination modifies disease severity among community-dwelling adults hospitalized with Influenza. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 65(8), 1289–1297. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/cix468

Benowitz, I., Esposito, B., Gracey, D., Shapiro, D., & Vázquez, M. (2010). Influenza vaccine given to pregnant women reduces hospitalization due to influenza in their infants. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 51(12),1355-1361. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21058908/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, August 31). What are the benefits of flu vaccination? https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/vaccine-benefits.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 11). A strong defense against flu: get vaccinated! https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/general/strong-defense-against-flu.pdf

Thompson, M., Kwong, J., Regan, A., Katz, M., Drews, S., Azziz-Baumgartner, B., Klein, K., Chung, H., Effler, P., Feldman, B., Simmonds, K., Wyant, B., Dawood, F., Jackson, M., Fell, D., Levy, A., Barda, N., Svenson, L., Fink, R., Ball, S., Naleway, A. (2016). Influenza vaccine effectiveness in preventing influenza-associated hospitalizations during pregnancy: A multi-country retrospective test negative design study. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 68(9),1444–1453. https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciy737

Promoting Healthy Behaviors to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and families should remain diligent in modeling and promoting healthy behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19. Currently, a vaccine is not available to help minimize and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Fortunately, there are several strategies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020), that you can implement within your family system that may reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Know How it Spreads

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets that are produced and distributed when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes within close proximity to other people (about six feet). These infected droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby and may be inhaled into these people’s lungs. Recent studies suggest that some people may spread the virus even though they may not experience symptoms. If you do not have symptoms but still carry the virus, you would be known as an asymptomatic carrier.

Stay Home When Appropriate

Limiting close face-to-face contact with people outside of your household is a good way to prevent exposure to and reduce the spread of COVID-19. When appropriate, stay at home with members of your household. Even if you are at home, you can still enjoy outdoor spaces around your home or neighborhood but be sure to continue to practice physical distancing with people who are not in your household.  Physical distancing, or social distancing, is the practice of maintaining six feet between all individuals.

Avoid Close Contact

When inside your home, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and, if possible, maintain six feet between the person who is sick and other household members.

Before deciding to go out in public, you should consider the level of risk for yourself and your family members and ensure you take appropriate protective measures. When outside of your home, limit your interactions with other people as much as possible and maintain six feet of distance (indoors and outdoors) between yourself and people who do not live in your household. Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick (e.g., older adults; people with underlying medical conditions like weakened immune system, Type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease). Generally speaking, your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19 increases depending on the more people you come in contact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction lasts.

Hand Hygiene and Respiratory Etiquette

Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water throughout the day, especially after being in a public place, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. It is also important to wash your hands before touching your face, before preparing food, after using the restroom, after handling your cloth face covering, after changing a diaper, after caring for someone who is sick, and after touching animals or pets. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Always cover your mouth and nose – either with a tissue or inside your elbow – when you cough or sneeze, and, then, immediately throw used tissues in the trash and wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer).

Cloth Face Coverings

Cloth face coverings have been found to be a “simple, economic and sustainable alternative to surgical masks as a means of source control of SARS-CoV-2 in the general community” (Esposito, Principi, Leung, & Migliori, 2020, p. 1) and could be beneficial particularly where transmission may be pre-symptomatic (MacIntyre & Chughtai, 2020).

Everyone should wear a cloth face covering in public settings and when around people who do not live in your household, especially when physical distancing is difficult to maintain. When wearing the cloth face covering, continue to keep six feet of physical distance between yourself and others. Children, under the age of 2, should not wear cloth face coverings. In addition, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance should not wear a cloth face covering.

Cleaning and Disinfection

Clean and disinfect frequently touched services, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks, with a household disinfectant on a daily basis.

Monitor Your Family Members Health Daily

Monitor yourself and family members to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 especially if you are running errands, going into an office or workplace, or visiting settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of six feet. Common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea. If you or members of your family do begin to experience symptoms, contact your primary care physician. Remember – most people experience a mild form of the illness and are able to recover at home. However, if someone is experiencing distress (e.g., trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake, bluish lips or face), get emergency medical care immediately.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, July 7). Considerations for events and gatherings. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/considerations-for-events-gatherings.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, June 25). People of any age with underlying medical conditions. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fneed-extra-precautions%2Fgroups-at-higher-risk.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, May 13). Symptoms of Coronavirus. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, April 24). How to protect yourself & others. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

Esposito, S., Principi, N., Eung, C. C., & Migliori, G. B. (2020). Universal use of face masks or success against COVID-19: Evidence and implications for prevention policies. European Respiratory Journal, 55(6), 2001260. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01260-2020

MacIntyre, C. R., & Chughtai, A. A., (2020). A rapid systematic review of the efficacy of face masks and respirators against coronaviruses and other respiratory transmissible viruses for the community, healthcare workers and sick patients. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 108, 103629.

Get Outdoors! But, Leave No Trace!

Though the pandemic we are living through has created many challenges for people, there have been some positive consequences! One positive result is the increased interest of individuals and families in participating in outdoor recreation activities and enjoying natural lands and trail systems. While it’s always a good choice to head outdoors, if you’re going to explore, hike, camp, run, or bike, don’t forget to follow basic rules for outdoor stewardship!

According to the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, there are Seven Principles individuals are asked to follow, when they visit the outdoors and trail systems, in order to sustain healthy and vibrant natural lands. These Principles have been modified to include standards to be used in backyards, local parks, or wilderness areas. 

Plan ahead and prepare.

Planning helps to ensure trip goals are achieved in a safe and enjoyable manner. It also encourages individuals to learn more about the area they will be visiting, which can minimize resource damage caused by visitors. Remember to organize your activities to fit your skills and abilities.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces.

Land management agencies and organizations build trails to provide multi-use accessible routes for pedestrian travel through natural lands, and well-designed paths encourage visitors to stay on the trails. If it is necessary to venture off trail, (e.g., to explore an area for an overnight campsite) look for durable surfaces, such as rock, sand, and gravel. These conditions are resilient to frequent use by visitors. Consider naturalizing the site after breaking camp by using materials, like pine needles or leaves, to cover footprints or matted areas.

Dispose of waste properly.    

Natural land visitors should plan to bring out what they bring in (e.g., water bottles, food wrappers). To dispose of human waste and toiletries, follow guidelines for constructing cat holes or latrines or carry out waste in plastic bags. Proper disposal of human waste is important to avoid polluting water sources and to prevent spreading disease.

Leave what you find.

Areas should be left as you found them, do not dig holes or clear areas. If you do, be sure to replace items (e.g., leaves, sticks, rocks) before leaving. Avoid cutting into or hanging items from trees.

Minimize campfire impacts.

If it’s necessary to build a fire, be sure to do so in a manner in which you leave no evidence of a fire having been constructed by keeping the fire small and allowing the wood to burn completely to ash. Other options to the traditional campfire include constructing a Mound fire or a Fire pan (visit this website for how-to instructions https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/minimize-campfire-impacts/). An alternative to building a campfire is to pack in a lightweight efficient camp stove. In some instances, visitors may camp in an area where a fire ring already exists; if so, be sure to use the existing fire ring.

Respect wildlife.

Learn about wildlife through observation from a distance – do not disturb, touch, chase, or feed wildlife or make quick movements or loud noises. However, if you are traveling in an area where there are bears, a little noise is a good idea. Remember to allow animals access to their water sources.

Be considerate of other visitors.

To ensure everyone enjoys their outdoor experience, be courteous and considerate toward other visitors you encounter. Before passing others on the trail, announce your presence and proceed with caution. On a narrow path, downhill hikers should yield to uphill hikers; hikers defer to equestrians; bicyclists yield to both hikers and equestrians.  Be sure you know the rules regarding pets, and keep pets under control at all times.


Additional Resources



Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. (2020, June 23). The 7 principles. Retrieved from https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/

Boosting Your Immune System

Now, more than ever, it is important to have a strong immune system.

A healthy immune system will fight off illnesses, such as the novel coronavirus, the flu, or the common cold, so you don’t become sick. So, how do you boost and take care of your immune system? Getting plenty of vitamin C and washing your hands are great ways to start protecting yourself against foreign antigens; however, there are many other ways to keep your body healthy and safe.

Consider and follow the simple steps below to help keep your body healthy!

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water and other hydrating liquids to keep all systems in your body functioning properly. Drinking adequate amounts of water helps aid the digestive system and prevents possible pathogens from getting into your eyes, nose, and mouth (UnityPoint Health, 2020).

Use Hand Hygiene

Wash your hands! A lot! This is one of the best ways to stay healthy and protect against germs that could compromise your immune system. Hand washing is vital to immune health because the slightest traces of germs, including bacteria and viruses, can be transferred through hand contact, such as touching your eyes, mouth, or nose or by consuming food that has not been handled properly (CDC, 2018a).

According to the CDC (2018b), washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds removes germs from hands and offers protection to you and others with whom you may have contact.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song or “Row, row, row your boat” from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Eating foods that support gut health is important in maintaining a healthy immune system. Below are some immune boosting foods to keep around the house as snacks or to add to fun recipes (Castaneda, 2020).

  1. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps our immune system function efficiently.
  2. Bell Peppers are a great source of vitamin C, which is vital in creating antibodies that help the immune system fight illness.
  3. Red Peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits.
  4. Broccoli is rich in antioxidants; vitamins A, C, and E; and in potassium.
  5. Citrus Fruits have anti-inflammatory components and are rich in antioxidants.
  6. Dark, Leafy Greens are a good source of vitamin A and beta carotene, which is associated with reducing inflammation and increasing disease-fighting cells.
  7. Garlic contains compounds that naturally act to destroy bacteria and infection.


Exercising regularly generates many health benefits, including building and maintaining a healthy immune system. Being active causes the body’s antibodies and white blood cells to circulate more rapidly, which may result in your body’s ability to detect and attack germs and harmful foreign substances more quickly (Levine, 2020).

According to the American Heart Association (2018), the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous exercise for adults and children is as follows:

  • Adults: 150 minutes per week, which breaks down to about 21 minutes per day.
  • Children and Adolescents: 60 minutes per day.

Get Your Sleep On!

Sleep is your body’s way of resetting, so it can function properly to keep you healthy. Giving your immune system a break by sleeping allows it to recharge, so it can come back ready to protect you day after day. Getting enough sleep is also important in helping to lower stress, which is a big factor in suppressing the immune system (Levine, 2020).

A 2015 sleep study (Prather et al, 2015) showed that people who get at least 7 hours of sleep per night are four times less likely to come down with a cold or other illness. When your body is deprived of sleep, it produces stress hormones that can suppress the immune system.

So – wash your hands, try adding some foods listed above to your daily diet, get moving, and sleep well!  Stay healthy!!



American Heart Association. (2018). American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults and kids. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/aha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults

Castaneda, R. (2020). 8 foods that can support your immunity. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/slideshows/foods-that-can-support-your-immunity?slide=10

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018a). Show me the science. How to wash your hands. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/show-me-the-science-handwashing.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018b). Show me the science. Why wash your hands? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html

Levine, H. (2020). 5 ways to boost your immune system. Retrieved from https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2020/boosting-immune-response.html

Prather, A., Janicki-Devertes, D., Hall, M. H., & Cohen, S. (2015) Behaviorally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 38(9), 1353-9. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26118561

UnityPoint Health. (2020). 5 easy ways to boost your immune system. Retrieved from https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=7ed35a9b-7295-4619-a0c1-f9e729cbb11d

Being Active with My Teen

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adolescents and teens, to develop and support good health, should engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day (HHS, 2018). The benefits of physical activity include increased cognitive function, decreased chance of developing chronic diseases, improved mental health and enhanced overall well-being (Physical Activity Guidelines, 2018). However, helping adolescents and teens (ages 10 to 18 years old) maintain good levels of physical activity can be challenging for parents and caregivers. Parents may need to be creative to ensure their children are participating in the desired amounts of physical activity on a regular basis.

Parents should serve as role models and encourage teens to engage in some form of daily physical activity. There are many opportunities for teens to participate in physical activities each day, such as brisk walking, taking the stairs, conducting chores like vacuuming or cleaning surfaces, rearranging furniture, dancing, and playing with a pet. In addition, physical activity can be broken into chunks of time in order to accomplish the daily goal.

Below are some approaches to being active with your teen.

Set Goals. Busy schedules and after-school routines can make it difficult to find time to be active. Look at your calendar, see where you can carve out 60 minutes each day, and set a time as a daily goal (e.g., 30 minutes of running, 15 minutes of walking, 15 minutes of active games) (CDC, n.d.). Approach physical activity as a family event and reap the benefits. Consider your daily routines and family interactions as opportunities to model healthy physical behaviors, catch up on daily happenings, and strengthen your family’s bond. The Family Health Climate Scale (FHC) in 2014 analyzed the physical activity and nutrition behaviors in families and indicated that shared positive health behaviors positively affected everyone’s overall cognition, motivation, and behavior (Niermann, Krapf, Renner, Reiner, and Woll, 2014).

Any Mobility is Good Mobility.  Any amount of time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity contributes to health benefits such as lessening the chances of all-cause mortality, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes (HHS, 2018). Find two 30-minute windows that your family can carve out for a family activity. Family activities include inviting friends over to play badminton or volleyball, meeting neighbors in a near-by park to play basketball, playing in a local or backyard pool, or participating in local community events (Owen, Healy, Matthews, and Dunstan, 2018). You can break up your 60 minutes of activity by spending 10 minutes of your day climbing up and down stairs or a hill, taking turns doing push-ups (chair, wall, assisted, and regular) or sit ups for 15 minutes, walking around the neighborhood or a local park for 25 to 30 minutes, and using the remaining 5 to 10 minutes to carry laundry, carry groceries, jump rope, shop, or dance to your favorite playlist.

Reduce Sedentary Behavior. Sedentary behavior includes any behavior that requires a low energy expenditure. Some sedentary behaviors cannot be avoided due to work schedules and people needing to sit for long periods of time or time spent traveling in cars (HHS, 2018). Other sedentary behavior can be a choice such as spending hours in front of screens using social media, playing video games, or watching TV. Replace the screen time with an active family board game, like Twister or Seek-A-Boo, or play an old-fashioned game of Hide-and-Seek inside or outside.  Be willing to negotiate how to share the household chores as a family, for example someone dusts; someone vacuums; someone delivers the clean clothes to the various rooms. Plan exercise time together. Ask your family what exercises they enjoy doing and incorporate the exercises into a family activity. Ask each person to create and share a playlist on a specific and repeating day, like every Tuesday is Ryan’s turn to share his playlist. Always, remember to be encouraging and positive.

Promote Healthy Behaviors for the entire Family. The 5210 health-promotion initiative is a great place to find ways to encourage healthy behaviors. The number 5 represents how many servings of fruits and vegetables one person should consume in 1 day; 2, or less than 2, represents the number of hours one should engage in screen time per day; 1 represents the hour one should participate in physical activity daily; 0 represents the elimination of consuming sugary beverages.  For more information about 5210, visit the Tips for Families in the 5210 Family toolkit.   

Below are some moderate and vigorous activities to consider doing with your teen.

Moderate Activities Vigorous Activities
Martial Arts Team Sports (football, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, kickball)
Roller Skating Running
Yoga Mountain Climbing
Gymnastics Circuit Weight Training
Boxing using punching bag Wrestling
Aqua aerobics Step aerobics
Archery (non-hunting) Water polo
Walking downhill Skiing
Horseback riding Gardening
Snorkeling Moving furniture
Hunting large and small game Pushing a lawn mower
Kayaking on a lake Tennis (doubles)


This moderate and vigorous activities list was adapted from U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Centers of Disease and Control Prevention, Promoting physical activity: A guide for community action, 2011.[i]



5210 Healthy Children Toolkit Tips for Families. (2017). Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. University Park, PA. Retrieved from https://5210.psu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/tipsforfamilies_hmc_7-11-17.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Strategies to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases: The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase Physical Activity in the Community. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/downloads/PA_2011_WEB.pdf

Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. (2018). 5210: Helping families lead healthier lives. Retrieved from https://5210.psu.edu

Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2020). Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adding-pa/barriers.html

Niermann, C., Krapf, F., Renner, B., Reiner, M, & Woll, A. (2014). Family health climate scale (FHC-scale): development and validation. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24593840

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018) Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. (2nd edition). https://health.gov/sites/default/files/201909/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.df

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Everyday Ideas to Move More (2013). Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/get-active/activity-plan.htm

Emotional Impact of Food Allergies on Parents and Children

Food allergies can be frightening, and they are becoming more prevalent especially in children. Supporting children who have food allergies and learning new ways to help families manage these allergies has become vital as currently 32 million people in the United States suffer with food allergies, and 5.6 million are children.2 Food allergies are increasing. The percentage of children with a food allergy has increased by about 50% between 1997 and 2011. Currently, one in 13 children in the United States has a food allergy.2

What are the most frequent food allergens?

 Eight foods cause 90% of most food allergy reactions:5

  • Milk/Milk Products (e.g., cow’s milk, casein, whey)
  • Egg
  • Peanut
  • Tree nut (e.g., almonds, walnut, pecans, cashews, pistachios)
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
  • Shellfish (e.g., crab, shrimp, scallop, clams)

How do families manage food allergies?

 When children come into contact with the foods that cause them to have an allergic reaction, they can display symptoms (e.g., rash, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling). This is called an allergic reaction. Foods that cause an allergic reaction are called allergens. Sometimes, these reactions can be severe and life-threatening (i.e., anaphylactic shock, which can cause blood pressure to dramatically drop and airways to narrow). No one can predict how severe a reaction will be.2

Food allergies can be extremely scary for both the child with the allergy and his or her parents/caregivers. Because, when contact with an allergen is made, there is no way to prevent the allergic reaction, parents/caregivers (and children) must closely monitor all food with which the child comes into contact.

Food allergies and the resulting reactions can have lasting emotional and social effects on families. In fact, food allergies are more than a physical condition; they impact every aspect of a parent and child’s life. Research indicates that it is often common for parents to feel a sense of fear towards food and potential allergic reactions:3

  • 92% of parents say they always or occasionally feel fearful for their child’s safety because of food allergies;
  • 90% of parents say they always or occasionally fear cross-contact of foods;
  • 75% of parents say food allergy reactions cause fear/anxiety for their family; and
  • 31% of parents say they have seen a mental health professional related to their child’s food allergies.

Parents of children with food allergies

 According to the My Life With Food Allergy: Parent Survey Report, there are high rates of emotional and social impact on parents who have children with food allergies.1

  1. Mental and emotional impact of food allergies on parents is greater than the impact on the patients.1
    1. Parents/caregivers report a higher burden than do patients age 13 and over.
    2. Food allergies have a major impact on many parents’ mental, social, and emotional well-being.
    3. Fear, anxiety, and worry were common themes throughout the survey’s responses from parents.
  2. Food allergies have considerable impact on parents’ social lives.1
    1. Families experience a loss of normalcy leading to adjustments in decision-making and daily routines.
    2. Parents report skipping events, including school functions, due to food allergies.
    3. Birthday parties, traveling, dining out, and entertainment activities present challenges for parents.
  3. Food allergies can cause significant financial strain and time burden for parents.1
    1. For some families, daily realities and needs for caring for children with food allergies present a major financial burden.
    2. Some families have had to make career decisions based on food allergies, which have led to a negative financial impact for the household.
    3. Food allergies can also present a major time burden for some families.

Children with food allergies

Food is essential to life; it must be consumed to survive. Imagine being fearful of eating and how the food you consume could hurt you? Children with food allergies may develop levels of anxiety regarding a fear of food.

Upon entering school, children often may experience fear and anxiety as a result of being around others who do not struggle with food allergies.4 As a result of a food allergy, a child may feel left out and isolated from friends and normal activities, and lonely or even friendless.4 In some cases, children may be too scared to eat at school or anywhere away from home and may develop a sense of food aversion.4

 What can you do to help someone with a food allergy?

You can help by learning how people with food allergies avoid allergic reactions. One main concern for people with food allergies is to avoid allergens that pass from one food to another, and they take precautions, such as the following:

  • Wash their hands before and after they eat.2
  • Ask food preparers questions about food being served and if the utensils have been used for preparing or serving other foods.
  • Ask you to wash your hands after you’ve prepared a food or eaten a food that may contain allergens.

Individuals with food allergies must read food labels. A child with food allergies may need your help reading labels to eat safely. Find out what to do in case of an allergic reaction – many individuals with food allergies have an allergy plan developed by an allergist. Be prepared to help someone use their epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen) and, if used, call 911. If you are caring for a child with food allergies, make sure the child’s parents show you how to follow the allergy plan and administer the Epi-Pen.

Additional Resources for Parents of Children with Food Allergies

Kids with Food Allergies: Living with Food Allergies https://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/living-with-food-allergies.aspx



  1. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. (2019). My life with food allergy: Parent survey report. Retrieved from https://aafa.org/foodallergylife
  2. Kids with Food Allergies.(2014, August). So what’s the big deal about food allergies? Retrieved from https://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/whats-the-big-deal-about-food-allergies.aspx
  3. Kids with Food Allergies. (2019, May). The social and emotional impact of food allergies. Retrieved from https://community.kidswithfoodallergies.org/blog/the-social-and-emotional-impact-of-food-allergies
  4. UNC Health Talk. (2019, October). The emotional toll of food allergies in children. Retrieved from https://healthtalk.unchealthcare.org/the-emotional-toll-of-food-allergies-in-children/
  5. S. Food & Drug Administration. (2018). What you need to know about food allergies. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/what-you-need-know-about-food-allergies