All posts by Social Good Moms Contributor

12 Tips for Safe Global Travel

Now that summer is in full swing, many are heading abroad for annual vacations. While planning the perfect global getaway can be daunting, it is equally as important to stay safe while traveling internationally as it is to score a great deal on a hotel stay.

The American Red Cross has put together twelve important tips for traveling abroad that we’re happy to share.

  • Download the first aid app. The American Red Cross first aid app puts expert advice for everyday emergencies in your hand. Whether you’re in the United States or abroad, arming yourself with basic first aid skills can save a life. Be sure to download the app while you’re still in the United States, otherwise, you’ll download the local Red Cross or Red Crescent’s mobile app (which will be in the local language).
  • Make a plan. Just like at home, it’s important to establish a time and place to meet family members in case you get separated.   
  • Know what natural disasters are possible. There’s no reason to panic, but it’s important to research whether your destination faces emergencies you’ve never experienced. While you’ll need to gauge the local context, the Red Cross offers basic tips about what to do during natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, and hurricanes.
  • Register your trip with the State Department. Enter your travel details with the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program online, which allows the State Department to better assist you in case of an emergency while you are abroad. You can also get information about safety conditions in the country you are planning to visit.
  • Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you in case of emergency while traveling.
  • Check out the State Department’s What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis‘ and have an evacuation plan that doesn’t rely on the U.S. government.
  • Keep your destination country’s emergency numbers handy. You know to use 911 in the United States, but how will you reach the fire department, police, or an ambulance abroad? Find your destination country on this reference sheet from the State Department—and write down the emergency numbers before you take off.
  • Know the six-month passport rule. Some countries deny travelers entry if their passport expires in less than six months. Renew your passport about nine months before the expiration date.
  • Let your credit card company know what countries you will be visiting and when. This way, they won’t think your card is stolen and shut it off just when you need it the most.
  • Pack your International Certificate of Vaccination. Also referred to as the “yellow card,” it lists your immunizations, allergies, and blood type. The “yellow card” is available from your physician or local health department.
  • Bring medications, bug repellent. If you’re traveling somewhere with mosquito-borne illnesses—such as malaria, dengue, or Zika—be sure to spray repellent and/or cover your arms and legs with lightweight clothing at critical times of the day. Don’t forget your medications and it’s a good idea to bring other stuff like OTC pain reliever and something for an upset stomach.
  • Check for emergency exits and evacuation routes. The American Red Cross has helped many communities around the world install signs that indicate evacuation routes in case flooding or another natural disaster occurs. Be sure to identify evacuation routes at your destination and, as always, pay attention to the location of emergency exits.

Suffering in silence: how Kenyan women live with profound childbirth injuries

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Shutterstock

Kathomi Gatwiri, Southern Cross University

Sasha is 22-years-old. She was married off when she was just nine and by the time she was 11, she was pregnant with her first child, and unprepared for childbirth.

So when labor came, in the middle of the night – in her geographically isolated village in rural Kenya – she was unaware of the painful fate awaiting her.

During childbirth, the baby’s head was too big to fit through Sasha’s pelvis, causing the baby to get stuck in her birthing canal. Traditional birth attendants tried their best to help Sasha but they were not skilled enough to handle the complications. She needed surgery, and quickly. But because she could not access emergency obstetric services, she spent the next six days trying to push out the baby that was stuck inside of her.

In the end, Sasha delivered a dead, rotten baby in macerated form. She was not only in grief of her lost child, but was also traumatized by her experience which left her with profound injuries and a double obstetric vaginal fistula.

Continue reading Suffering in silence: how Kenyan women live with profound childbirth injuries

Can Fitbit Help Kids Gain Steps and Lose Weight?

Around 17 percent of American children from age 2 to 19 are classed as “obese”. That’s a level that has remained fairly steady over the last decade. And it’s growing.

Obesity is measured in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI) – a measure that can be used to compare children in terms of their weight. BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. For children and teens, BMI is so age- and gender-specific that it is referred to as BMI-for-age. BMI levels among children and teens need to be expressed relative to other children of the same age and gender. Every child is different and that makes it difficult to generalize on something like this.

heart-rate-monitoring-device-1903997_1280Overweight is defined as a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and gender. Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and gender.

To give an illustration, a 10-year-old boy of average height (56 inches) who weighs 102 pounds would have a BMI of 22.9 kg/m2. He would be considered obese because this calculation puts him in the 95th percentile for BMI-for-age. His BMI is greater than the BMI of 95% of 10-year-old boys in his “reference population”.

Continue reading Can Fitbit Help Kids Gain Steps and Lose Weight?

Flooding from Hurricane Harvey causes a host of public health concerns

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As many people have had to wade through floodwaters, they need to be aware of the risk of infection and disease from contaminated waters.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Neil S. Grigg, Colorado State University

The historic rainfall dumped by Hurricane Harvey has already led to deaths by drownings and the destruction of many homes.

Houston’s drinking water system is being stressed by overflowing water reservoirs and dams, breached levees and possible problems at treatment plants and in the water distribution system. Failure of drinking water systems could lead to water shortages.

As a civil engineer who has studied how flooding affects water systems, I also see a number of public health concerns. Raw sewage, dead bodies in the water and release of dangerous chemicals into the floodwaters could lead to the spread of disease through contact with contaminated water and to infection through open wounds.

And because Houston has at least a dozen sites that have been designated environmentally hazardous, there is a risk of petrochemical contamination. Indeed, companies have reported that pollutants from refineries have already been released.

As if those are not bad enough, the “unprecedented” amount of water leads to the perfect breeding opportunities for mosquitoes, which are vectors of Zika and many other infectious diseases.

Continue reading Flooding from Hurricane Harvey causes a host of public health concerns