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Thank you for subscribing to Children's Health, an Avera eNewsletter that provides you with useful information about maintaining a healthy lifestyle for children. To learn more about our services, community events, or to find a physician, visit www.Avera.org.

To your health,

The Avera Staff


If you pack lunches for your child to take to school, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep food fresh and safe by the time the lunch bell rings.

Take care with refrigerated foods. Perishable foods such as dairy products, meat and cut fruits and vegetables need to be kept cold. Once foods are between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, dangerous bacteria can grow. Perishable food that is not stored properly can become unsafe in just two hours. To keep foods cold, pack them in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack. Packing foods the night before and keeping them in the refrigerator also helps keep them cold before lunch.

Pack more nonperishable foods. Foods such as bread, peanut butter, whole fruits and vegetables and juice boxes are foods that can be kept at room temperature.

Follow standard safety precautions. Before preparing lunches for your child, wash your hands. Remind your children to wash their hands before and after eating. Keep counters and utensils clean, and wash your child's lunch box and ice pack daily.

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Notebooks, gym clothes, sack lunches and even laptop computers are a few items your child might be carrying in a backpack. Too much weight in your child's backpack, though, can cause neck, shoulder or back pain. Here are some tips to keep a backpack from causing painful problems for your growing child.

A child's backpack should be no more than 15 percent of the child's body weight. A child weighing 70 pounds, for example, should carry no more than 10.5 pounds in a backpack.

Wearing a backpack properly can reduce strain. A backpack should cover about three-fourths of your child's back. Make sure your child uses both shoulder straps, and keep the bag 2 inches above the waist. Backpacks with a strap that buckles at the waist also take some of the weight off of the shoulders. Padded straps and back can make a backpack more comfortable, too.

Click here to calculate a safe weight for your child's backpack.

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As you plan your child's back-to-school supplies, don't forget to plan some time to review school bus safety with your child. Even if your child doesn't ride the school bus daily, most children will ride the bus to some school activities, so it's important to know some basic safety rules. Take a few minutes to share the following guidelines with your child.

It's important to be well-behaved and alert around the bus. Be ready for the bus by arriving at the bus stop early. When the bus arrives, listen to the bus driver and follow directions. Once you board the bus, sit down right away. Sit upright on the seat with your backpack in your lap, and don't eat or drink on the bus. Keep hands, arms and head inside the bus at all times.

Once you get off the bus, there are important safety rules to follow. Take 10 giant steps in front of the bus before waiting to cross in front of it. You should be able to see the driver's face. Wait for the driver's signal before crossing the road, but still look both ways before crossing. Don't worry if you forget or drop something. Ask an adult to help you with any misplaced items.

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In Great Health online archive.