Creating a Safe Environment
An important aspect to remember is that there is an element of risk in all physical activity. It is imperative to take action accordingly to minimize the risk. Safety awareness practiced by the leader, based on up-to-date information/resources (e.g., Safety Guidelines), common sense observation, action and foresight, is the key to safe programming.
Resources for Educators
For example, in Ontario, educators can use the Ophea (Ontario Physical and Health Education Association) Physical Education Safety Guidelines, prior to starting any activity. For more information visit www.Ophea.net or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Considering Students with Asthma when Planning Physical Activity
Asthma is described as a chronic inflammatory condition that occurs in the smaller airway of the lungs. When in the presence of asthma triggers the airways react by narrowing or obstructing which can make breathing difficult. If not treated properly, this can cause death.
Asthma is easier to manage if asthma triggers are eliminated. Triggers often bring on asthma attacks. A trigger is any thing or condition that causes inflammation in the airways, which then leads to asthma symptoms. Asthma triggers are NOT the same for each individual person. But in every case, it's important that people with asthma avoid their triggers in order to keep airway inflammation to a minimum and reduce asthma symptoms.
When individuals participate in physical activity, they commonly breathe through their mouths at a rapid rate, which causes cooling and drying of the sensitive airway for those who have asthma. This cooling and drying effect causes the airway to narrow resulting in asthma symptoms. As a result, physical activity is considered a trigger for some people with asthma, however, it is important to note that physical activity is not a trigger for all individuals who have asthma. For individuals with well-controlled asthma, exercise should pose little, if any, difficulty. If an individual has exercise limitations, such as an inability to exercise as well as his/her peers due to the development of a cough, wheeze or shortness of breath, this could be a sign of uncontrolled asthma and a trip to the family physician is required.
There are two types of asthma medication and it is important to know the difference.
Controllers, also referred to as “preventers” prevent the airway inflammation. Controllers are generally taken at home, not given by school staff. There are some children who take higher doses and occasionally may have to take their controller/preventer at school. Controllers are NOT to be used for quick relief of symptoms.
Relievers, also referred to as “rescue” medication: opens the airway quickly, usually contained in a blue inhaler, prescribed only when needed, often prescribed 10-30 minutes before exercise to be taken right away when symptoms appear. If you observe the student using the reliever more than 3 times a week (other than before exercise) or requiring the reliever medication more than every 4 hours inform the parent(s)/caregiver(s) immediately.
For general information about asthma you can contact the following organizations:
The Canadian Lung Association toll free at 1-800-972-2636 (Asthma Action Hot-line 1-800-668-7682) or visit www.lung.ca
The Canadian Health Network www.canadian-health-network.ca