Vilas County Public Health - Home

Back to School Tips

The first day of school is right around the corner.  Now is a great time to help your child get back on a healthy and safe plan for school.  Following a few tips below will help your child stay healthy and safe during the school year. 

Healthy Lunches

  • Pack your child's lunch with whole grains, such as whole-grain bread, wraps or pita pockets.
  • Provide lean meats, cheese or hummus to make sandwiches.
  • Provide several fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, snap peas, cucumbers, fresh fruits that are in season.
  • Have your child choose milk in order to get calcium and Vitamin D.
  • Variety is the key!

Getting Enough Sleep

  • A couple of weeks before the first day of school, slowly begin to have your child go to bed earlier. 
  • Preschool-age kids need 11 - 12 hours of sleep.
  • School-age kids need at least 10 hours of sleep.
  • Teens need 9 - 10 hours of sleep.
  • Set rules on when electronic devices need to be turned off.

Preventing Sickness  

  • Make sure your child is up-to-date on his/her shots.
  • Remind your child to wash their hands after using the restroom, before they eat and wiping their nose.
  • Have them cover their cough and sneezes using their inner arm by their elbow. 

School Bus Safety Tips

  • Get to the bus stop early. Do not run to the bus.
  • Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop before walking toward it.
  • If crossing the street, wait for a signal from the bus driver.  Look both ways to make sure there is no moving traffic from either direction.
  • Always cross in front of the bus so the driver can see you.
  • If the bus has lap and shoulder belts, use them.
  • Once the bus is in motion, remain in your seat.
  • If the window is open, keep your arms and head inside the bus at all times.
  • Do not stand up to get off the bus until it has completely stopped.
  • Only get off the bus at your assigned spot.

Walking Safety Tips

  • Children should only walk to school alone if they are old enough and ready to make the walk safely. Note: Children may not be ready to walk to school without an adult until they are at least 10 years old.
  • Younger kids cannot be trusted to make smart traffic choices on their own.
  • Plan and practice a safe walking route with your child until she knows it well.
  • Use streets with sidewalks, crosswalks and crossing guards. Avoid as many intersections as possible.
  • Have children walk with a friend or in a group.
  • Talk to your child about what to do if they are approached by a stranger.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Drivers should be aware of children walking to school or to the bus stop.
  • When backing out of the driveway, watch for children.
  • On streets without crossing guards, watch out for children trying to cross the street.
  • Be careful on streets without sidewalks or streets with on-street parking. It might be hard to notice a child behind a car.
  • Be alert. Children may dart into the street without looking.
  • Slow down!

Source: Nationwide Children's Hospital & American Public Health Association

August is National Breastfeeding Month

Breast milk gives baby nearly all the protein, sugar, and fat your baby needs to be healthy. It also has many things that help baby’s immune system, like antibodies, enzymes and white blood cells. These protect baby against many diseases and illnesses not only while he is breastfeeding but after baby is weaned, such as:

  • Ear infections,
  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Pneumonia,
  • Urinary tract infections, or
  • Certain types of spinal meningitis.

Formula cannot offer this protection.

Breastfeeding provides moms with feelings of fulfillment and connection with baby.  Moms also recover from child birth more quickly and easily. Breastfeeding can also lower the chance of breast and ovarian cancer later in life.  For more information, visit

Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car - Not Even for a Minute

On average, every 8 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle with July and August being the months with the highest average number of deaths. These tragic deaths can be prevented.

Sometimes, adults may forget their baby or toddler are in the car.  The child is sleeping, there is a change of routine, or a quick errand is ran and the child is left alone in the car.  The problem is that leaving a child alone in a car can cause serious injury or death from heatstroke. Young children have a very high chance of being injured or dying because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. These tragedies can be prevented by following ACT: 

A: Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.

C: Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a purse, bag, or cell phone that is needed at your final stop.  This is very important if you’re not following your normal routine.

T: Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Here are more tips: Safe Kids Heatstroke Prevention Tips

Blue-green algae

Blue-green algae is also known as Cyanobacteria and commonly called "pond scum." It is often blue-green in color, but can also be blue, green, reddish-purple, or brown. Blue-green algae generally grows in lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams when the water is warm and full of nutrients needed to grow. In Wisconsin, blue-green algae blooms generally occur between mid-June and late September. 

Blue-green algae can be a health issue because certain kinds can make you or your pet sick.  For people, signs include sore throat, being stuffed up, difficulty breathing, itchy skin, earache, headache, stomach ache and diarrhea. For pets, signs include vomiting, diarrhea and being tired.

For more information on signs or other information,  visit

Ebola Information

For up-to-date information from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regarding Ebola, click here.

Source: CDC