The warning signs of drowning

The Philippines is a nation of islands yet many children do not know how to swim. Aside from teaching our children to swim, we should also look out for the warning signs of drowning because as this article says, drowning doesn’t look like it does in the movies.
[Drowning] is the No. 2 cause of accidental death in [American] children, ages 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents)—of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In some of those drownings, the adult will actually watch the child do it, having no idea it is happening. Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:
  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs—vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder
Read the full article: Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning. Continue Reading

Paracetamol and a digital thermometer for those little emergencies with your little ones

Earlier this week, my infant daughter got sick and by the middle of the night had a worryingly high fever. Fortunately we'd stocked up on Calpol (paracetamol) so were quickly able to bring her temperature down to acceptable levels. Two things were indispensable over the following days:
  1. Calpol: this is a brand name for children's paracetamol. There are others available on the market but I stocked up on this one since it's a name I recognize and used as a child.
  2. Digital (scan type) thermometer: regular bulb thermometers that need to be inserted into the mouth, armpit or backside are a nightmare with young children; little kids just struggle and won't sit still for long enough! With this thermometer you just hover the device over the child's forehead to take a reading.
Image of paracetamol and digital thermometer for medical supplies
Calpol (Paracetamol) and digital thermometer
I'd gone to the range with friends a few days prior so the incident reminded me of a comment made by one of our Facebook group members a little while ago: "I pity the guy who spends all his money on guns and ammo, but doesn't buy food and medical preps for his family." The range trip cost approx. P1,500 for ammo but a bottle of Calpol was only P49. None of my guns or ammunition were any help that night but I'm pretty sure the Calpol saved us a trip to the ER. This is just a quick reminder to us all that while we're preparing for the big things, let's not forget the little emergencies. To paraphrase something told to me by Pinoy Prepper: "The best way to avoid disasters is to prepare for emergencies." So, for those of us with young children, why not take a quick look now in your medical supplies to check that you have the basics covered? This goes for new parents especially who may not yet have updated the stock to cover new family members. Continue Reading

The diaper bag as a baby bug-out bag

A diaper bag is one thing that parents of an infant always bring when out of the home. As part of our preparedness planning, my wife and I decided to upgrade our baby's diaper bag to a fully-fledged bug-out bag. The reason for this is that since we're carrying an extra bag anyway, we might as well include some items needed for a baby's emergency kit. The bag hangs off our stroller so the added weight isn't any real inconvenience. My wife wrote an article on her new blog describing her suggestions for what to put in your baby bug-out bag:
  • A minimum of 20 nappies/diapers or enough to last 3 days. These should be kept in a resealable plastic bag to prevent them from getting dirty or wet.
  • Nappy wipes. This is essential for when there is not enough water to wash with. It's better to save clean water for drinking.
  • Small changing mat
  • At least 3 sets of baby clothes, preferably ones that are small, light and suited for hot Manila weather like sandos (vests). A blanket can be used when the weather becomes cooler (see below).
  • 1 or 2 soft towels/blankets to keep warm in cooler weather, and which are also useful for baby to sleep on
  • 1 small, wide-brimmed cloth hat to protect baby from harsh sunlight
  • 1 baby grooming kit with nail scissors or nail cutters, nail file, thermometer
  • 1 small bottle of ethyl or isoprophyl alcohol
  • 1 foldable travel umbrella to protect against rain or sun
  • Oral rehydration salts, which can be purchased at your local drugstore
  • Large clean plastic bags which can be used to lay down as a hygienic sheet, to carry things, and to protect important belongings from dirt and moisture.
  • Bottles and dry formula milk for bottle fed babies
  • Baby's favourite toy or security blanket. This will help to amuse and lift baby's spirits, which can also provide a much-needed mood boost for us parents.
  • Any special medications or creams your baby may need
Bug out bag contents illustration You can read her article at Bubu and mama: Baby Bug-Out Bag Continue Reading

After a disaster, beware of diarrhea

The aftermath of a disaster can often kill more people than the disaster itself and one of the main risks is disease. Poor sanitation caused by the disruption often leads to outbreaks of acute diarrhea. We saw this during Typhoon Ondoy where diarrhea was one of the top killers in evacuation centers. It was also a huge problem in post-earthquake Haiti when a cholera epidemic infected 1,500 people in just a few days. Even during normal times, diarrhea is the 3rd leading cause of child illness and the 4th leading cause of deaths among children less than 5 years in the Philippines. Diarrhea kills through rapid dehydration and children are especially susceptible as they can succumb in a matter of hours. Nevertheless, deaths can be prevented by simply making sure that the patient drinks a lot of clean water with oral rehydration salts. Unfortunately, these are difficult to find after a disaster. Aid workers in Haiti were distressed to find that many were dying for want of something that costs so little.

Simple ways to safeguard your family

There's no reason why your family should suffer from an outbreak of diarrhea.
  • Stock up on Oral Rehydration Salts. These are available from Watsons and Mercury Drug for around Php10 to Php15 per sachet.
  • Stock up on antidiarrheal medications like Diatabs (Loperamide) which are less than Php30 for four capsules.
  • Make sure you have access to clean water for drinking and washing.
  • Eat cooked food or food washed well in clean water.
  • As much as possible, continue with your usual sanitation habits.
Oral Rehydration Salts and Diatabs
Oral Rehydration Salts and Diatabs

Household alternatives

If you don't have any commercially produced ORS at home, suggests the following alternatives:
  • Breastmilk
  • Gruels (diluted mixtures of cooked cereals and water)
  • Carrot Soup
  • Rice water (congee)
  • Fresh fruit juice
  • Weak tea
  • Green coconut water (buko juice)
  • A home-made solution of salt, sugar and if possible, orange juice or mashed banana (see link for recipe and instructions)
Remember: make sure you first check with your pediatrician if these alternatives are suitable for your child.

Additional resources

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