Health Information
Healthy Haven
Health Information

Barbara Steel, RN BSN
Sonoma Ranch Elementary
FOOD SAFETY DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON:  Not all food borne illnesses come from restaurant food.  In fact, many cases of food borne illnesses occur when food is prepared at home.  During the holiday season, if food is handled and prepared safely, most food borne illnesses can be avoided.  All food may contain some natural bacteria, and improper handling gives the bacteria a chance to grow.  Also, food can be contaminated with bacteria from other sources that can make you ill.  Contaminated or unclean food can be very dangerous, especially to children and the elderly.  Each year food borne illnesses kill up to 9,000 people.  They also cause fever, stomach cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea in about 1 in 3 Americans.  There are 4 major tips you can use to prevent contaminating food.
  1. Use caution when you buy your food.   Buy perishable food such as meat, eggs, and milk last.  Avoid raw or unpasteurized milk.  Because eggs, meat, seafood, and poultry are most likely to contain bacteria, do not allow their juices to drip on other food.  Shop for groceries when you can take food home right away so that it does not spoil in the car. 
  2. Store your food promptly.  Store eggs, raw meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator.  Use containers to prevent contaminating other foods or kitchen surfaces.  Your refrigerator should be set at 40 degrees F.  Your freezer should be set at 0 degrees F.  Regularly clean and disinfect the refrigerator and freezer.
  3. Use special precautions when preparing and cooking food.  Wash your hands and clean and disinfect kitchen surfaces before, during, and after handling, cooking, and serving food.  Wash raw fruits and vegetables before eating them.  Defrost frozen food on a plate either in the refrigerator or in a microwave, but not on the counter.  Cook food immediately after defrosting.  Use different dishes and utensils for raw foods than you use for cooked foods.
  4. Cool and promptly store leftovers after food has been served.  Because harmful bacteria grow at room temperature keep hot food hot at 140 degrees F or higher and keep cold food cold at 40 degrees or cooler.  This is especially important during buffets.  Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.  Promptly refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers or wrapped tightly in bags.
Basically use common sense and when in doubt, throw it out.  It is much cheaper to throw out bad food than it is to pay expensive medical bills or miss work.  
BREAKFAST-THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL: Most morning health room visits are
for the chief complaints of head & stomachaches. With further investigation, a majority
of these students have not eaten breakfast. Without fuel such as proteins and
carbohydrates, their bodies are not able to function effectively for learning to take place.
If time is a factor in the morning, encourage your child to eat something even if it’s a
breakfast bar, muffin or a bagel on the run. You will find they will achieve better in
COLD:  Fever.....rarely                                                              FLU:  Fever....high (102-104) lasts for 3-4 days
             Headache....rarely                                                                  Headache...very common
             General aches & pains...mild                                                 General aches & pains...usually, often severe
             Fatigue, weakness...mild                                                        Fatigue, weakness...can last up to 2-3 weeks
             Extreme exhaustion...never                                                    Extreme exhaustion...early on & common
             Stuffy nose...common                                                             Stuffy nose....sometimes        
             Sneezing....usually                                                                  Sneezing....sometimes
             Sore throat...common                                                             Sore throat...usually
             Cough...moderate hacking cough                                           Cough...can be severe dry cough
             Chest discomfort....mild                                                          Chest discomfort...common, can be severe
             Vomiting or diarrhea...never                                                    Vomiting or diarrhea....rarely
  1. Vaccinate.  Doctors recommend everyone 6 months of age & older (especially those with high risk conditions) get the flu vaccine every year.
  2. Stop the spread of germs.  Cough & sneeze into your sleeve.  Wash your hands often with soap & water.  Stay home when you are sick.  Do not return until you are fever free for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.
  3. Get plenty of rest.  Drink clear fluids.  Medications such as Tylenol or Motrin can help in reducing fever.
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