Keep your child healthy at summer camp

5 important reminders

By Jennifer Waugh - The Morning Show anchor, I-Team reporter
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The school year ends in a matter of days for children in Northeast Florida, which means many kids will be attending summer camp.

There are five ways that local nurse practitioner Courtney Howard from MinuteClinic suggests you can reduce the risk of injuries and illnesses at camp:

1) Involve your child in the camp choice

Give your child options and make sure the camp is an appropriate match for their interests, level of physical fitness and health.  For example, if your child is not a strong swimmer, don't book a camp that offers a lot of water activities like canoing and sailing because they may struggle with passing a swim test that would prevent them from participating in those activities.

2) Obtain a camp physical

Nurse practitioner Courtney Howard says you should talk to your pediatrician or you can visit a local Minuteclinic before your child attends camp, especially if it's a camp where kids sleep away from home.  "We review the vaccination record and make sure that it's up to date and do a physical examine to check for recent illnesses or physical conditions that could be a physical issue for children," said Howard.

3) Discuss allergies and dietary needs in advance

If your child has food allergies or requires a special diet, discuss this with the camp ahead of time and again when you arrive.  If your child is allergic to stinging insects, make sure he or she has appropriate emergency relief like an Epi pen.  And if not, that the counselor has one at all times and knows how to use it.

4) Pack sturdy footwear

Foot injuries, like twisted ankles, blisters and cuts, are probably the most common camp injury.  Howard suggests, "pack only closed toe shoes like athletic shoes for sports and boots for hiking."  Water or deck shoes for the pool versus flip flops to prevent slips.

5) Don't forget sunblock, insect repellent and a water bottle

Use broad spectrum sunblock that blocks UB and UV rays.  "We recommend an SPF 30 which blocks 97 percent of UVA rays.  A higher SPF, 50 for instance, only blocks an additional 1-2 percent of rays, so it's probably not necessary," said Howard.

Repellent: DEET is strongest, but you may prefer something without DEET that has natural ingredients like herbal scents and citronella oil. 

Water bottle: Your child should have this at all times to stay hydrated.

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