Prevention & Recovery

4 ways to keep your family healthy over March break

4 ways to keep your family healthy over March break

Photography by John Hryniuk Image by: Photography by John Hryniuk Author: Canadian Living

Prevention & Recovery

4 ways to keep your family healthy over March break

Ah, March—it seems like the longest month. The days are still short, dark, and cold, and though spring may be just around the corner, it seldom feels that way. Many Canadians take a week of vacation in March simply because they need a break from the grind.

Spending that break in a warm climate—or even in a snowy Canadian locale—can be terrific, but it can also involve health risks, particularly if your vacation plans include outdoor adventuring.

Accidents are the leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of one and 34, and are among the top causes of hospitalization for Canadians of all ages. But the majority of injuries are predictable and preventable.

There is much we can do, both for ourselves and for our families, to prevent injury. If you’re heading out on vacation this season, especially with kids, consider the following.

1. Use a seatbelt
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family is insist on seatbelt use, age-appropriate car seats, lifejackets in and around water, and helmets for sports such as cycling and skiing. Every time. It can be tempting to make exceptions to these rules when on vacation because we aren’t functioning within our usual systems. Don’t.

2. Water safety
Drowning is the second leading cause of injury-related death for Canadian children. Active supervision of children around water is critical at all times. Also, make sure your kids take swimming lessons throughout the year.

3. Check the weather
Children should play indoors when the temperature or the wind chill falls below -25°C. When outdoors in cold weather, make sure kids and adults are dressed appropriately. When in tropical climes, remember that children are particularly prone to heat-related injuries, as they tend to warm up three to five times faster than adults. It’s important to watch carefully for signs of dehydration. Drink plenty of clear fluids and take breaks in cool, shady areas. When replacing fluids, make sure to also replace salt, which can be lost through sweating or by consuming too much water. Use sports drinks and eat regularly, in addition to drinking water.

4. Get first aid. A year-round safety tip
In an emergency, training in first aid and CPR can make all the difference. Every Canadian teen and adult should take a first aid or CPR course. (Find one near you at They are affordable and offered in nearly every community.

For more advice from Dr. Martin, check out her thoughts on the future of Canadian health care.

This content is vetted by medical experts

This story was originally titled "Safe, Not Sorry" in the March 2014 issue.
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Prevention & Recovery

4 ways to keep your family healthy over March break