Friday, May 26, 2023

All About Ice Packs for The School Nurse

Ice, Ice Baby

This post contains affiliate links. 

Hopefully Helpful School Nurse Tip:  Believe it or not the topic of ice packs is one of the most talked about topics within The School Nurse Fb groups!  My best advice is for you to have a consistent routine that works best with your school nurse office and your students. Let's explore some popular opinions on ice!

Can I have an ice pack?
It's important to remember that students will come to your office and request an ice pack for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons require ice, some do not. As the school nurse, use the information gathered during your assessment to decide whether or not an ice pack is needed. Then start writing down these complaints in your "Common Complaints" journal. You think you'll remember, but you won't and you'll have this journal as a a great reminder! 

Ice Protocol

Every school nurse's office should have protocols to follow for certain situations; even when and how to use ice packs. There might be exceptions to protocols at times, but remember to be consistent- this will help your students know what their options and expectations are when they come to your office.

Typically, ice is used for minor injuries to decrease circulation which decreases pain, swelling and inflammation. 

Using an ice pack for 10-20 minutes spaced out several times through the entire day, but not more than every hour is usually appropriate. Do not apply ice directly on the skin; considering wrapping the ice pack in a paper towel. The student can sit in your office rest, elevate and hold ice to the injury, or (if allowed) take the ice pack with them back to class.  Resource:  AAP Healthy Children

Ice Pack Options

There are a variety of ice pack options to fit the budget of any school nurse. What option is best for your office?  Here are a few things to consider:
  • What age range are your students?
  • Are students allowed to only use ice packs in your office?
  • Can students take ice packs back to class with them?
  • Do you expect students to return ice packs?
  • Will your ice packs be single use only?
  • Will you or your student call/notify home every time they use an ice pack?
  • Can students who are "hot" request an ice pack to help them cool off?
  • Is eating the ice allowed?
  • Do you have the assessment skills & confidence to say "No" to the request for an ice pack?
Depending on how you answered these questions, will depend on what ice packs are best for your office.  For my office, we prefer a countertop ice maker with single use ice packs. In fact THIS is the exact countertop ice maker we have. and it works great. 

We make ice and add to gallon size bags. Then, we fill sandwich size bags about 1/2 full and keep those stocked in the freezer to use as needed & repeat the 'ice cyle' (see what I did there) as needed too!

Are countertop ice makers worth all of the pennies?

This poll is from the public Fb group for school nurses HERE.
Request to join by answering all of the membership questions.

Over the years, I've learned there are many creative ways to make ice packs.  Here are a few options:

  1. Reusable ice packs wrapped in a dry paper towel.
  2. Frozen paper towel in a bag wrapped with a dry paper towel.
  3. Frozen sponge inside a bag and wrapped with a dry paper towel.
What do you use?