It's that time of year when parents and children start to think and talk about summer camp. Whether it is a summer day camp, equestrian riding camp, or a traditional overnight summer camp, as a parent you need to know what to look for to make sure it is an appropriate camp for your child but also to ensure it is a safe camp.

As a parent myself, an injury epidemiologist, and a former summer camp counselor for four summers, I know when selecting a camp for my child, that all summer camps are not alike and just because it is a designated summer camp does not mean they are all safe. When I first took my child to an equestrian riding camp, I wanted to know if they were certified. For example the American Camping Association (ACA) does certify summer camps. I learned quickly that equestrian summer camps do not have such certification, unless it is part of a traditional overnight summer camp.
Equestrian day summer camps do not have to meet the safety standards and requirements that are required among ACA Accredited summer camps. However this does not mean that the camp might not be safe. However a parent must know what to ask and what to look for. For example the Certified Horsemanship Association (CHA) does certify those who are trained to teach riders. However there are no guidelines specifically for summer camps. As a parent I also wanted to know if they have safety requirements to protect children from injury and if the staff who work with children if they have been screened to make sure they do not have a criminal background. Even further,  what emergency planning are in place in case of an injury. Unfortunately some camps we searched did not have any and some had very little. Because of my background and training I knew what to look for in the summer camp, but many parents might not be aware.

So we developed the Pro Consumer Safety Summer Camp Guide for Parents which has been approved by both the American Camping Association and the Certified Horsemanship Association.  This guide helps parents to make sure the summer camp is appropriate for their child. It gives the parent the necessary questions to ask to ensure the staff and administrators have systems in place to sustain a safe, protective and encouraging educational environment for their child. Don't just assume because it is a summer camp that it is certified, they have emergency protocols in place, they have safe educational practices or safe and psychologically healthy staff. As a parent myself, this guide will help empower you as a parent to know what questions to ask and what to look for to make sure the summer camp provides a safe and healthy learning environment for your child. 

Even when purchasing a new car seat or booster seat, make sure it has the required Federal sticker which allows  for use in the United States. This sticker is always required. It has valuable information such as manufacturer and model name, date of manufacture, expiration date, etc. This sticker informs you that it is allowed for use in the United States. It also provides information needed to check for recalls and related use information.

This sticker is white, generally rectangular in shape and can be found on the bottom or back of the car seat or booster seat. For infant, rear-facing only car seats, there are two stickers, one for the car seat carrier and one for each base.
Look for the required Federal sticker on your car seat (similar as to the above). This shows any expiration dates, information to check for recalls and illustrates that the seat has met Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) Number 213 of Title 49, Part 571 and legal to use in the United States. In addition, the car seat or booster seat will have contact information in the U.S. to contact the company for recall, problems, registration information, etc.  If the car seat or booster seat does not have this sticker, do not use it! If it is a new car seat or booster seat without one, return it for a refund immediately!
If this sticker is not found on the car seat or booster seat, even if you are sure the seat is allowed in the United States (i.e. well known brand such as Evenflo or Britax) or you know if it once had a sticker because you used the seat for a previous child, it is not legal to use. It needs this sticker to be valid. If you are not able to find this sticker DO NOT use the seat. This is equally as important if renting a car seat from a car rental or baby gear rental as well. When in question, always check with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician to confirm.

If purchasing a car seat or booster seat ONLINE, make sure it has this sticker and appropriate instructions that show it is allowed for use in the United States. There are some car seats for sale on trusted websites such as Amazon and eBay, for example, that do not have these stickers and are not allowed for use in the United States. Remember a car seat or booster seat without this sticker is NOT safe, nor legal and has not been crash tested under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213. As a result it is not clear how that car seat or booster would  perform during a car crash.  This puts your child at risk of severe injury or death in the event of a collision. Further the driver and/or parent are at risk of being ticketed because of driving with a child without a U.S. approved child restraint system. So if it does not have this sticker, return it for a full refund immediately. Anytime you are unsure always talk with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.

The Zika virus is a disease spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito known to transmit viruses that cause dengue fever. This mosquito is common in the tropics and bites during the day. Common symptoms include fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms can last several days to a week and are often mild where people are not sick enough to be hospitalized and rarely die from the Zika virus. The most recent public health concerns have been due to the "possible" association between Zika and birth defects (such as microcephaly-neurological condition of which an infant's head is significantly smaller than normal) and Guillain-Barre syndrome (a disorder of the body's immune system that attacks part of the peripheral nervous system).
Photo Credit: Cynthia Goldsmith
When a woman who is pregnant becomes infected with the Zika virus, it can be spread from the mother to the fetus (baby) during pregnancy. Until scientific evidence is confirmed of the association between the Zika virus and birth defects, as a precautionary approach the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  (CDC) has activated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in an effort to respond to Zika outbreaks. In addition the World Health Organization (WHO) on February 1, 2016, declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) due to clusters of microcephaly and other neurological disorders found in some areas affected by Zika. This effort is a public benefit to: 1). alert the public and healthcare providers about Zika risks, 2). provide travel notices and guidance, 3). provide public health laboratories with diagnostic tests, and 4) Identify and report cases to prevent the spread of disease.

The following video and infographics provide women who are pregnant and travelers with prevention tips regarding Zika, provided by the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Countries and Territories in the Americas with Active Zika Virus Transmission
(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Photo Credit: James Gathany

Pregnancy & Zika Virus Prevention

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Pregnancy & Travel

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For more information on Zika, pregnancy and travel visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.