Las Vegas Urban League WIC Programs Offers Vital Resources
Lead photo by Photo by Lavi Perchik
Photo of girl by Jelleke Vanooteghem
With Southern Nevada temperatures hitting well over 100 degrees during the months of July and August, it’s important that families practice safe habits in and around swimming pools, sunbathing in backyards and at the beach, traveling in vehicles with elevated interior temperatures and maintaining proper hydration at all times.
The Las Vegas Urban League Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program’s Nutrition Education – WIC Team is passionate about assisting people in maintaining good health and proper nutrition habits while participating in outdoor activities during extreme summer heat waves. Especially while observing health guidelines for COVID-19.
“We have Participant Centered Interactive Nutrition Education Classes that address different nutrition topics that can answer any question you may have,” Rewina Tsegay, Program Nutritionist of Nutrition Education Centers for Urban League WIC, said. “It’s natural for families to want to get out for some fresh air and exercise while observing ‘Stay at Home’ mandates during the Coronavirus global pandemic.
Infants and children up to age 4 are at the greatest risk for heat-related illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC states that the best defense is prevention by never leaving infants, children, or pets in parked vehicles.
According to national statistics, an average of 37 children dies each year in hot cars. These instances occur when a child has been forgotten in a vehicle or accidentally locked themselves in a car or trunk.
The CDC recommends that infants and children dress in loose light-colored clothing and parents schedule activities in the cooler morning temperatures or during evening hours. The use of a sunscreen with a minimum SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 is recommended.
Heat-related illnesses such as exhaustion or heat stroke occur when the body can’t cool itself properly. This can lead to the brain or vital organs being damaged. Factors that lead to such conditions are obesity, dehydration, prescription drug use, sunburn, and various underlying health conditions.
WIC’s nutritional counselors are available 24/7 in real-time at two Las Vegas locations to advise parents on safe practices they can use to address these underlying health issues and how to guard against heat-related dangers for themselves and their children.
“Stay cool, stay hydrated and follow the health advisories during this pandemic, is the best advice in enjoying a safe and happy summer,” Tsegay said. “Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and never wait until you feel thirsty” Water is the best drink to replace lost fluids since water and salt are lost when you sweat. Limit alcoholic beverages or drinks with caffeine because they speed up fluid loss. Many people think sitting in the shade is a good compromise, but this is false security because you can still get sunburned because the light is scattered and reflected.”
WIC recommends in order to prevent heat illnesses during outdoor activities that parents and their children drink water every 15 minutes, rest in shaded areas to cool down, wear protective head coverings and light-colored clothing and apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going out into the sun.
“Parents need to keep a close eye on their children around water and in open recreational areas at all times,” Tsegay said. “Don’t be distracted while talking on the cell phone or chatting with other parents. Put guard fencing around swimming pools in the backyard, even around toddler pools. Most importantly, teach your children to never go near water without adult supervision.”
Eating a well-balanced diet is important for a healthy life. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) breaks down food sources into five categories. The five food categories we should be eating daily from are Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Dairy, and Protein. The USDA recommends we eat portion sizes based on our sex, age group, and activity level. If you would like the specific recommendations USDA has a website and an app dedicated to nutrition and health called MyPlate. The MyPlate app is free to families and is a nice way to set goals and track progress.
As a general nutrition recommendation be mindful of the foods and drinks you consume, make water your main beverage, avoid large-sized plates and portion sizes, make half of your plate fruits and vegetables, and cut down on foods that are high in salt and added sugar.
The Las Vegas Urban League Women, Infants and Children Program is a 501c (3) program that is funded by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services Division of Public Health.
For more information, visit the Urban League WIC website at www.wiclv.org or their two convenient locations, 6480 W. Flamingo Road, Suite B, Las Vegas, phone (702) 227-1573 or 3320 E. Flamingo Road, Suite 50, Las Vegas, phone (702) 476-9561.