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The Children's Wellness Blog

Driving Tips for Adolescents

July 31, 2017

Driving Tips for AdolescentsWorrying about your kids’ safety is just part of being a parent, but there’s one event that really amplifies this stress for most parents – the moment when your teenager starts driving. If that time is on the horizon for your family, don’t panic. Our board-certified pediatricians at Children’s Wellness Center have compiled some helpful tips for both parents and teens to make the early years of driving a safe, educational, and maybe even enjoyable experience.

Tips for Parents

  • Go beyond the minimum state requirements for driving practice. Georgia law requires 40 hours of supervised driving experience before teens can get their full driver’s license, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 50 hours.
  • Start teaching your teen the basic skills in an easy, low-traffic and low-speed environment first. Then, gradually add in new skills and situations for them to master, like night driving, heavy traffic areas, interstates, etc.
  • When looking for a vehicle for your teen driver, midsize or full-size cars with the latest safety measures are ideal. Steer clear of sports cars (which make speeding more tempting) and SUVs. SUVs are easier to roll over than other cars, and these crashes are more likely to cause injuries in children, teens, and adults alike.
  • Be a good driving role model (no matter what age your child is) – avoid distractions, obey all traffic laws, and remind yourself to drive in the same way you would want your kids to drive.
  • When you’re supervising your teen’s driving, stay calm and avoid yelling out critiques while they’re trying to focus on the road. If they make a mistake, have them pull into a parking lot or other safe place and have a conversation about what they should have done differently.
  • Keep a log of your teen’s driving lessons, including the location, time, what skills you working on during each session, how long each session lasts, etc.
  • The state of Georgia places restrictions on the number of passengers teens can have in their car, but as a parent, you can feel free to give your teen stricter limitations.
  • Give your kids a limit on how far from home they’re allowed to drive, and define specific areas where they’re not allowed to drive by themselves.
  • Even if you’ve already discussed underage drinking, make sure your teenager truly understands the importance of not drinking and driving.
  • Some teens simply develop the decision-making skills they need later than others, so if you don’t feel that your teenager can safely begin learning to drive, you can have them wait to start the process, even if they’ve met Georgia’s age requirements.
  • Communicate to your teen that the restrictions you put on their driving privileges are there for their own safety, and that you both have the same goal: for them to be safe on the road.
  • Be careful about having your teen drive their younger siblings around. The Georgia legal restrictions on passengers for young drivers only apply to kids who aren’t in the driver’s immediate family, but siblings can be just as distracting as friends. For instance, it’s probably not a good idea to have your teenager drive four eight-year-olds to their baseball game.
  • In their first few months of unsupervised driving, consider giving your teen a driving curfew so that they aren’t driving when it’s too dark or when they’re likely to be tired.
  • Establish a parent-teen driving agreement like the one provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics, so that everyone is clear from the beginning about the driving rules.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Georgia Graduated License Program. Under these laws, teens start with a learner’s permit, then an intermediate license, and only receive an unrestricted license after age 18.

Tips for Teen Drivers

  • Don’t use your phone while your car is not parked (even if you’re stopped at a stoplight). This includes calling, texting, using social media, etc. If you need to use your phone, pull over into a parking lot or other safe area first.
  • Be conscious of the weather. Rain, wind, snow, and other issues can strongly impact your ability to drive, so if you’re not comfortable driving in certain weather conditions, ask your parent to supervise.
  • Learn how to handle emergency situations that might occur while you’re driving, like what to do if your tire blows out, if your car overheats, if you start to skid, if you get into an accident, etc.
  • Before you start a drive, mentally review the route you’ll be taking so that you can focus more on watching the road, not on finding your way or messing with your navigation app.
  • Never drive after using alcohol or drugs (including pain pills and certain other prescription medications), and never get in the car with a driver who has been using these substances (whether they’re a teenager or an adult).
  • Don’t eat or drink while you’re driving – keep your hands and your mind distraction-free.
  • Keep your music at a low enough volume so you can always hear emergency vehicles or other cars’ horns.
  • Make sure any passengers in your vehicle are wearing their seatbelts, because you may be held responsible if there’s a crash and someone is hurt.
  • Don’t drive when you’re angry, upset, or tired. These can all lead you to be distracted, and drowsy driving is particularly dangerous, so make sure you’re following the right sleep recommendations for teenagers.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers, even if you’re concerned for his/her safety.
  • Always call your parents if you won’t make it home before your curfew. They might be a little unhappy that you’re coming home late, but they’ll be much more upset if you don’t call, because they’ll be worrying that you’ve been in an accident.

The early driving years can really show the complex relationship between a teen and their parents – the  teen is developing a desire for independence, while the parents need to retain some authority to teach their child how to be a responsible adult. But remember, everyone has the same goal for a young driver: to get from point A to point B safely. If you have more questions about your teenager’s health and safety, give us a call or schedule an appointment at Children’s Wellness Center online.

Facts Parents Should Know about Chickenpox

July 21, 2017

When most of today’s parents were children, chickenpox was almost seen as a rite of passage. By the age of nine, nearly every child had endured a week or two of discomfort at the hands of chickenpox and most came through the other side unscathed, but sadly, some children did develop much more serious complications. Fortunately, chickenpox is now a much rarer occurrence thanks to a highly effective and safe vaccine. Still, it’s an illness every parent should keep an eye out for, so our board-certified pediatricians have compiled this helpful guide with everything you need to know about chickenpox.

07.10.17 Facts Parents Should Know about Chickenpox

Keeping your child healthy involves a combination of practices, like avoiding contagious people when possible, keeping up with your child’s recommended immunization schedule, and instilling general good health habits so your child’s immune system is always at the top of its game. Plus, last but not least, educating yourself about illnesses your kids might face will help you know how to react and when to seek medical attention. If you have questions about chickenpox or anything else regarding your kids’ health, give us a call or schedule an appointment on the Children’s Wellness Center patient portal. For more kids’ health tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

CWC’s Dr. Segal and Dr. Mekelburg Named Among Atlanta’s Top Doctors

July 17, 2017

atlanta top children's doctors 2017At Children’s Wellness Center, simply seeing the joy on our patients’ faces (and their parents’ faces) is enough to tell us that our pediatricians are the best in the biz. But now it’s official, because our own Dr. Julie Segal and Dr. Kirsten Mekelburg have been named among Atlanta’s top physicians in the latest issue of Atlanta magazine.

Each July, Atlanta publishes a list of some of the most well-respected and qualified doctors in the Atlanta area. The list itself is compiled by an independent organization called Castle Connolly. This company focuses solely on identifying the top doctors throughout the country by surveying other physicians as well as conducting their own reviews and investigations. Well-respected doctors throughout the US are invited to nominate the physicians they most respect in any number of specialties, from general physicians to oncologists. The doctors that have been nominated (including Dr. Segal and Dr. Mekelburg this year) are then evaluated by a physician led panel. After studying each nominee’s education and experiential background, patient feedback, contributions to the field of medicine, and more, Castle Connolly’s panel selects those they feel are most worthy of “Top Doctor” status. With such an extensive review process, we are truly honored by Dr. Segal and Dr. Mekelburg’s prestigious awards.

While they need no introduction if you’re already one of their many pediatric patients, Dr. Segal and Dr. Mekelburg both have impressive achievements and educational experiences that make them the exceptional doctors they are. While they are both board-certified pediatricians and Fellows of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Dr. Segal has been in the Atlanta area since her undergraduate and medical school training at Emory University, while Dr. Mekelburg came to Emory University for her residency after completing her undergraduate and medical school training in Michigan. Both are active in the community even beyond their work at Children’s Wellness Center. Dr. Segal is on the advisory board for Community Friendship, Inc., a nonprofit psychiatric rehabilitation facility in Atlanta, and Dr. Mekelburg serves as the Community Physician Liaison for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Outpatient and Inpatient Rehabilitation Team in addition to serving as a Clinical Instructor of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine.

The honor of this Top Doctors award is a great one, but it’s also not our first. Children’s Wellness Center has a track record of our excellent providers receiving distinctive awards. Not only did Dr. Mekelburg and Dr. Segal receive this same award from Castle Connolly and Atlanta magazine last year, but our own Dr. Gary Loventhal and Dr. Mekelburg were also named among Atlanta’s top doctors in Atlanta Parent last year as well. We take great pride in offering the best possible care to our patients, and it’s exciting when other physicians, parents, and professionals agree.

At Children’s Wellness Center, all of our board-certified pediatricians and other providers are motivated each day by the joy of keeping all of our patients healthy and happy. Awards like these are simply icing on the cake, letting us all know that other doctors respect our excellent physicians just as much as we do. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Segal, Dr. Mekelburg, or any of our other exceptional providers, contact us or access the Children’s Wellness Center patient portal. Or, to keep up with all our doctors’ achievements as well as all the latest health tips for parents and more, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Camping Safety Tips for Parents

July 3, 2017

Camping Safety Tips for ParentsEvery family needs to take a break from their daily hustle and bustle every once in a while, and everyone does this in a different way. For some families, camping can be an enjoyable and refreshing way to spend a vacation. But before you hop into your RV or tent, our pediatricians at Children’s Wellness Center have a few tips to help you keep your kids safe and healthy on your family camping trip.

  • Take plenty of preparation time to learn about the area where you’re going. If you’re not an experienced camper, try starting with day trips and working your way up to a weekend or a full week.
  • Especially during summers in the South, be mindful of the heat. It’s easy for kids to get overheated, so if you plan to enjoy hiking during your trip, plan your hikes in the early morning or evening when the sun is cooler. When the heat is at its peak (10am – 4pm), spend most of your time in the shade. At all times of the day, practice good sun safety for kids.
  • Teach your children safety measures in case they get lost on a hike. For example:
    • Give them a whistle and teach them the universal signal for help (three blows).
    • Teach them how to identify landmarks on the trail. Every so often while you’re hiking, have them turn around and look at the trail they’ve passed, so they’re familiar with their surroundings.
    • Tell them that if they get lost, they should stop, stay where they are, and whistle/yell for help.
    • Dress kids in brightly colored clothing so they can be spotted easily.
  • Pack for all types of weather by wearing layers. Be sure to also pack clothing that protects you against rain and wind, like polyester and lycra instead of cotton. And remember, temperatures can drop significantly at night, even when it’s hot during the day, so make sure you’re prepared with a hat, fleece jacket, or other warm clothing.
  • Insect repellent can protect your child from many pests’ bites and stings, but there are special considerations when you’re using it for children. For all the details, check out our blog about how to use insect repellent for kids.
  • If you’re in an area where ticks are common, tuck the bottoms of your children’s pants into their socks to help keep the ticks from biting. Even with this extra measure, though, you still need to use insect repellent and to check your child for ticks at the end of each day.
  • Be mindful of the animals that live in your camping area. Here are a few tips:
    • Before your trip, research the wildlife in the area where you’ll be camping. Learn their habits, how to avoid disturbing their homes, and what to do if you encounter them.
    • When you’re looking for a place to make camp, survey the area and look for signs that you could be in a highly-traveled area for animals. For instance, bears may be attracted to areas with a lot of berries. You should also look out for evidence of insect nests in the area.
    • Teach your children about the wildlife they may see, and tell them to never approach or try to feed an animal they don’t know.
  • If you’ll be enjoying a lake, river, or other body of water during your camping trip, make sure you have adequate life jackets that are approved by the US Coast Guard. These life jackets will be marked, and they’ll be listed as type 1, type 2, type 3, or type 4. Type 1 is the best option, while type 4 provides the least protection. In addition to having life jackets that fit your kids well, be sure to follow our other water safety tips.
  • Bring your own bottled water. Natural sources of water are often contaminated, so if your supply runs out and you need to drink from a natural source, have a water filter and/or dissolvable iodine tablets. Teach your children to never drink directly from a natural water source.
  • Teach your children what poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac look like, and explain that these plants should not be touched. If your kids do come into contact with one of these plants, wash the area with cool water immediately.
  • Explain to your children that even though berries they see in nature might look like the ones you buy from the grocery store, they might be very dangerous, so they should never eat them. Bring plenty of healthy snacks for kids so they’re less tempted.
  • Kids are particularly prone to scrapes and bruises, so be sure to bring a well-supplied first aid kit.
  • If you’re traveling in an RV, remember that your children should use seat belts and car seats at all times when the RV is moving, just like you would in a passenger vehicle.

In our modern era of technological saturation, camping can feel like a breath of fresh air (quite literally). Just be sure to prepare and educate yourself beforehand in order to make your family’s vacation as safe and enjoyable as it can be. For other pre-camping safety questions or to schedule a well check visit for your child before your vacation, contact Children’s Wellness Center. Plus, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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