Baltimore County Now
Intern, Baltimore County Communications Office
As I continue to make the transition into adulthood, I often find myself taking trips down memory lane. I recall racing home from school and flying through my homework so that I could get outside to a game of touch football or pick-up basketball with the other neighborhood kids. Before we knew it the sun would vanish and we’d all be heading in, ready to do it all over again the next day. Those were the good days, as many older adults might say.
But it seems as though today’s youth has a different idea of what makes a day good. Hours upon hours of fast-moving images on a screen with accompanying sound effects have replaced carefree outdoor play. It’s hard to believe that the average American child today spends only four to seven minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play, according to the National Wildlife Federation and their “Be Out There” initiative. While it may appear to be cool to spend hundreds of dollars on and obsess over the latest gadgets, the real expense is our nation’s declining health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, more than a third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese in 2012. The fact is, the lack of outdoor physical activity decreases physical fitness levels, increases the frequency of ADHD, and increases stress levels in children. The National Wildlife Federation notes some surprising benefits to outdoor play which include:
· Healthier bodies with increased levels of Vitamin D, which helps to fight off serious health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
· Improved distance vision and reduced chance of nearsightedness.
· Improved performance on standardized tests and critical thinking skills.
· Stress levels have been shown to drop within minutes of “green time,” and free play with others helps with emotional development and lessens the chances of children developing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you ask me, it sounds like a pretty simple solution to such a growing problem. Encouraging kids to go out and play in the fresh air creates fun childhood memories while helping to build the body, spirit and mind.
Captain Bruce Schultz
Baltimore County Office of the Fire Marshal
When police, fire or medical emergencies occur, the single most critical link in the chain of survival is the citizen who calls 911 to report the situation and provide details.
Once a call comes into the 911 Center, a call taker answers the phone and begins to collect pertinent information about the location of the incident, type of emergency and phone numbers. They also can provide essential instructions to the caller about how to assist until the arrival of the police and/or fire department responders.
Once call takers determine which agency -- or both -- is needed, the call is routed to the police and/or fire dispatchers who assign the closest appropriate units and get them started towards the address of the emergency. While emergency responders are en-route, the 911 Center call taker will continue to gather additional information which provides responders with a better idea of the location and exactly what is happening.
Citizens can help responding units in a number of ways:
· In areas where long or common driveways exist, or in an apartment or office building, have someone meet the emergency units at the entrance and direct them into the exact location where help is needed.
· In recreational areas or shopping centers, take note of the building or store name and helpful landmarks. This can save precious minutes.
· Try your best to keep calm and provide as much specific information as you can about the location and the type of emergency you are reporting.
· If possible, have someone ready to meet and update the responders. The quicker responders can gauge the situation, the sooner the proper interventions can begin.
· Before an emergency occurs, make sure that your house or building has visible street numbers that are easy to read, even at night. The Baltimore County Fire Prevention Code requires residential numbers to be at least three inches in size. Commercial buildings must be marked with six- inch numbers.
These are some of the most important ways you can help us help you!
Linda Grossman, M.D., Chief, Bureau of Clinical Services
Baltimore County Department of Health
As the lazy days of summer come to an end, many parents with school-age children are beginning their “back to school” preparations. If you’re among them, be sure to include your child’s pediatric check-up and/or annual immunizations on your list.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a list of recommended vaccinations (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html) your child should receive— as well as when they should receive them. New this year in the State of Maryland is a law requiring specific vaccinations for children who are entering kindergarten and seventh grade for the 2014-2015 school year. The law requires that students entering kindergarten this fall must have two varicella vaccinations. Meanwhile, students who are entering seventh grade must have one Tdap (Tetanus-diphtheria-attenuated pertussis) and one meningococcal (MCV4) vaccination.
Immunization is a key part of protecting your child’s health. Millions of lives have been saved and untold cases of diseases have been prevented because of people getting vaccines to help them develop immunity to serious infections. Diseases that used to affect many people, such as polio, measles, pertussis (whooping cough), and meningitis, now are rare thanks to vaccines. It’s important to note that the germs that cause these illnesses continue to exist, so continued immunization is critical to the health of your child.
Additionally, immunization isn’t just good for your child’s health; it’s also good for those around him or her. When you immunize your child, you help protect the health of others including those who are too young to be vaccinated, those who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons, and those for whom a vaccine may not be effective.
As you enjoy your final days of summer and begin your back-to-school shopping, please include your child’s health among your plans. Here’s wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and safe school year!
The Baltimore County Health Department will be offering free, recommended vaccinations for eligible children ages five through 18. Find a date and location: http://www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/health/healthservices/children/immunizations.html
Dr. Linda Grossman is a pediatrician in Baltimore, Maryland. She received her medical degree from University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry and has been in practice for almost 40 years.