With elementary school pupils piling out of classes for their two-month summer break, the danger of accidents in and around the home, on the beach or at swimming pools and other recreation areas rises significantly.

Experts at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva have issued recommendations to making the summer vacation safe for children. Sickness, injuries and death result mostly from dehydration, drowning, falls from heights and accidents on bicycles, rollerblades and other wheeled toys and vehicles. Accumulated exposure to the sun can cause long-term damage.

Prof. Yehezkel Weissman, head of the urgent medicine department at Schneider, urged parents to protect children who are outdoors by having them use proper sunscreen and wear hats and long-sleeved, lightweight clothing. He advised against being outdoors between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Dehydration, he said, is a dynamic process that, without treatment, can cause harm to vital bodily systems. The signs are a dry mouth, minimal urine, restlessness and crying without tears. In addition, there may be confusion, headache, dizziness and even reduced consciousness in extreme cases. When dehydration is suspected, give the child water and take him to the nearest health fund clinic or emergency room. If consciousness is reduced, call for an ambulance.

Children who ride bicycles etc. need to wear helmets and knee and elbow protectors. Do not allow them to go into busy streets, said Weissman.

Children up to the age of five years need constant supervision when near bodies of water, even a bathtub or pail. Private and public swimming pools must be enclosed by a fence. It is advisable to teach children to swim from the age of five.

Jellyfish bites are not often dangerous, but they can cause a lot of pain. Do not rub the skin area; instead, wash it with sea water (not tap water). Then an emollient can be applied to reduce the pain. If there are large blisters or general weakness, seek medical attention. If a child is bitten or stung by an insect do not try to remove the stinger. If there is an allergic reaction, go for immediate medical attention.

Keep young children away from unbarred windows and access to roofs. Make sure not to leave chairs on which they can climb and then fall.

As more children spend the summer mostly indoors and using their tablets, cellphones, computers and TVs, they can overeat and gain weight: Parents should leave healthful snacks such as fruits and vegetables and not potato chips, hot dogs and other junk food. They will eat less if they do not munch in front of the computer or TV. Cold water is the preferred beverage.

Check to ensure that food given in summer camps is nutritious and not chocolate spread every day; ask for tehina, white cheese and other healthful spreads. Ask to see the menus of meals that are served.

THE JERUSALEM POST  MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2014 School’s out for summer Preschool, elementary pupils start vacation today • By LIDAR GRAVÉ-LAZI Kindergarten and elementary school pupils across the country celebrate their final day of classes Monday, officially kicking off their summer vacation.

Some 1.4 million pupils, 453,733 kindergarten children, and 948,059 elementary school children, accompanied by 74,725 of their teachers and 16,552 kindergarten teachers, will throw down their backpacks and attend summer camps, or have a chance to relax until classes resume September 1.

The pupils will join the some 680,000 high school students who began their summer vacation last week on June 20th.

“I congratulate the teaching staff and the pupils on the occasion of their summer vacation,” Education Minister Shai Piron said on Sunday. “The holiday is a chance for you to rest, to change daily frameworks, and to utilize the time for the benefit of other activities that are not possible during your everyday routine.”

Piron added that, as part of the ministry’s outlook, it will take responsibility for students also during the summer vacation.

“We will give children and youth a broad educational envelopment, which will include a wide arrange of relaxation and enrichment activities. We will place at the families’ disposal benefits and discounts for visits to museums and cultural institutions,” Piron said.

The Education Ministry also announced on Sunday that some 180,000 pupils had registered for the “School of Summer” program, which aims to provide a low-cost educational alternative to private summer camps.

The program will operate in 42 municipalities throughout the country for children in first and second grades, as well as to some 30,000 children in third and fourth grades living in the periphery.

According to the program, activities for children will be held in state schools from July 1-21, Sunday through Thursday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Each class will hold a total of 28 students, with special education classes holding seven students.

In terms of cost, parents will be asked to pay a minimal fee to enroll their children into the program.

The charges will vary from municipality to municipality and were determined according to a scale developed by the Central Bureau of Statistics, ranking districts across the country into clusters on a scale from one to 10, according to their socioeconomic situation – 10 being the highest.

In municipalities ranked in clusters one to four, the program will be free of charge, while in clusters five to seven parents will be charged NIS 300 per child. For children in clusters eight to 10, the program will cost NIS 450

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