Rules For Health
( Originally Published 1920 )
The Dream of John Paul Jones.—One of the most famous figures in the War of the American Revolution was John Paul Jones, the first of America's naval heroes. He was born in Scotland, the son of a gardener. There is a story that, in his boyhood, he was one day lying on a rock in the warm sun after a swim in the ocean. He fell asleep and dreamed a curious dream. He dreamed that he was the captain of a ship and was fighting a great naval battle. Guns were roaring, the air was full of smoke, and on the mast over his head floated a strange flag with red and white stripes on it and stars in a square in the corner. He told a friend, an English naval officer, about this dream. His friend replied that he hoped John Paul might some day command a ship, but that it would not be under such a flag as he described because there was no flag like that in the world and there was not at that time.
John Paul loved the ocean, and he went to sea as apprentice, or helper, when he was only twelve years old. Before he was twenty-five, he became captain of a merchant ship. In 1773, two years before the War of the Revolution, he came to America and made his home in Virginia. He saw, as many people did, that the American states (at that time colonies of Great Britain) must soon become independent. It is said that he told George Washington long before the war began: "Remember, when it comes I shall be ready."
When the war did come, John Paul was indeed ready. He was placed in command of a small fleet of American and French ships, with which he fought most gallantly against the British. His greatest battle was that in which his ship, the Bonhomme Richard, vanquished the Sera pis. According to the story that some people tell, the captain of the Serapis was the very man to whom John Paul had told his dream many years before. If so, he must have been surprised to be beaten by a ship flying the very flag that little John Paul had 'dreamed about so long ago, while the United States were still under the British flag.
Serving the Stars and Stripes.—I do not suppose any of you have had a dream just like that of John Paul Jones. I think, however, that many of you must have had some sort of dream of serving your country and your flag. Your older brothers and sisters remember when the Stars and Stripes were flying from almost every house in honor of our soldiers fighting under that flag in France. They planned that when they grew up they would do great things for their country, too. Even if it is never necessary for them' or for you to fight or to nurse the wounded in war, your country will need your loyalty and your devotion, to do her work in peace and to help with all your might to make the United States of America a greater and a nobler and a better. country.
When John Paul Jones saw the war coming, he could tell Washington that he was "ready." That is what your country wants you to be today, ready for whatever she may call you to do. She wants you to be ready in heart: unselfish, devoted, brave, fair, honest. She wants you to be ready in mind: quick, thoughtful, well trained, full of knowledge. She wants you to be ready in body: strong and sound and full of abounding health.
Do not think of health, then, as just something for yourself. If you lived alone on a desert island like Robinson Crusoe, you might have a right to say, "Oh well, I don't care. I'd rather have indigestion or catch cold than bother." As it is, you are a part of your country. Think of the Stars and Stripes and what you can do for the flag when you grow up. Be ready, as John Paul Jones was ready, when your country needs you.
Keeping the Body Fit.—Let us see what the most important things are that you ought to do, in order to keep your body strong and well and ready for your country's service. You have learned about most of them in this book, but it will be helpful to set them all down in order here.
1. Hold Your Body Well. The first essential of health and strength is to hold the body well, with the back straight and the head high. No good soldier slouches. Stand well, sit well, walk well.
2. Exercise Your Muscles. The muscles grow with use. In certain diseases something happens to the nerves, so that a leg or an arm perhaps cannot be used. Such a leg or arm shrivels up and grows small and weak. On the contrary, a child who uses his muscles, grows stronger all the time. Don't be lazy. Exercise till you are tired, and each day you can do a little more than the day before. Learn to swim and to ride, if you can, Learn to play all sorts of athletic games, and partic ularly those games, like football and baseball and basket ball, that involve team play and teach you to cooperate with others for the common good.
3. Keep Your Skin Healthy. Health, as we have seen, depends in large measure on the condition of the little blood vessels in the skin. Don't sit in a room that is too hot. Don't wear clothing that is too heavy.
On the other hand, don't get chilled. Take a cold bath in the morning, if you find that you feel brisk and toned up after it.
4. Breathe Fresh Air. Breathe deeply and get plenty of good air into your lungs. Sleep all the year round with your windows open. Play in the fresh air out-doors as much as you can.
5. Get Sufficient Rest. Don't forget that your body and your brain need rest as well as exercise. Get a good long night's sleep, so as to feel fresh and vigorous for the next day.
6. Eat Wisely. Learn to like all kinds of good foods, and particularly drink plenty of milk and eat all the fresh fruits and vegetables you can get. Don't eat too much candy or pastry. Eat slowly, and don't eat much between meals. Drink plenty of water. Many children do not drink as much water as the body needs.
7. Avoid Poisons. Don't let your body be poisoned by decayed food in your intestines. Have a regular movement of the bowels at least once a day. Re-member that tobacco should not be used until you are full grown, if at all, and that alcoholic drinks always do harm.
8. Keep Clean. Keep your teeth sound and strong by regular, thorough brushing. Keep your nails and your hair clean and neat.
Guarding against Germ Diseases.—If you follow the rules outlined above, your body ought to be strong and healthy and fit for any service. All the strength and health may disappear in a few hours, however, if the germ of some disease gets in and makes a successful attack. So there are other precautions that you ought to remember, in guarding against these unseen enemies of yours.
1. Guard the Gateway of the Mouth. Keep out of the mouth everything that is not clean. That means fingers and everything except clean food and the tooth-brush, for you can never be sure that other things are clean.
2. Eat Clean Food. Eat only clean food; that is, food that has been cooked or thoroughly washed and has not been handled by any one with unclean hands, or by any one who is ill. Do not eat food that is the least bit spoiled.
3. Eat with Clean Hands. Always wash your hands thoroughly before coming to the table and before eating between meals. Always wash your hands after using the toilet.
4. Fight against Insect Pests. Do all you can to help in the war against insect pests. Help to kill flies and mosquitoes and to do away with the filth and stagnant water in which they breed. Keep flies and mosquitoes out of the house, and keep flies away from food.
5. Avoid Infection. Do not run needless risk of catching colds or other diseases by being with people who are ill, unless there is some good reason why you must. Do not kiss people who are ill or handle the things they have handled, unless it is necessary.
6. See the Doctor in Time. If you do not feel quite well, ask to see the school doctor. It may save you a serious illness and may safeguard many other people, if you consult the doctor in time. If you do not feel well, keep away from babies and small children, so as to protect them from possible danger.
Accidents.—Accidents sometimes happen to every one, and it is important to know what to do when an accident occurs.
1. Cinders or Dust Particles in the Eye. Very often, for instance, a piece of fine dust or a cinder gets into your eye. The most natural thing to do, perhaps, is to nib your eye, but this only makes the pain worse. Sometimes the cinder can be seen on the surface of the eye, and some one can get it out on the corner of a clean handkerchief. Sometimes if the eye is kept closed for a few minutes, the tears will wash it out. Blowing the nose will sometimes help. If the eye still hurts after these things have been done, you should go to some older person and let him try to get the cinder out.
2. Cuts and Scratches. Any child who plays as a healthy child should, will sometimes get scratched or cut. The great thing to remember in such a case is to keep the place clean, so that harmful germs may not get in. If the cut is a little one, it should be washed out thoroughly with clean water and covered with clean gauze. If the cut is a bad one or a deep one, such as is made by a rusty nail, it should always be dressed by a doctor. The bite of an animal is particularly dangerous, since the teeth of an animal are always dirty. Remember that any scratch, however slight, should be shown to the doctor if it grows red and hot.
3. Bruises and Insect Stings. Bruises will be less painful if a cloth wrung out in cold water is placed over them. Insect stings can be relieved by putting ammonia on them, and, to some extent, by plastering a little wet mud over the place that has been bitten.
4. Poisons. You ought to be very careful indeed never to take any medicine, except what your parents or the doctor give you. Never drink anything out of a bottle or anything that some one has left standing in a glass, even if it looks clear like water. Many of the medicines used when people are ill would be deadly poisons if taken by a child, or by any one else, except in just the amount and the way the doctor orders.
5. Frostbites and Chilblains. If your fingers or ears or nose should get frostbitten in winter, remember not to go near the fire or into a hot room for a while, as a sudden change from cold to hot makes the pain much worse. The thing to do is to rub the part that has been frozen with snow or very cold water, until the blood has come back and the flesh begins to sting and burn. If you have those painful itching swellings called chilblains, you should never put your feet near the fire or over the register.
6. Burns. The best thing to do for a burn is to cover the place with vaseline or with a paste made of baking soda and water. This will make the pain much less.
If a blister forms, don't pick it off and run the risk of getting harmful germs in, but let it heal naturally.
If your clothing should catch fire, don't run, because the air will make the fire burn faster. Lie down and roll on the floor to smother it, and wrap yourself in a rug or coat or shawl, if you can find one. The cloth should be wrapped from above down, so as not to drive the flames up toward the mouth.
Above all, when an accident occurs, keep cool. Don't lose your head, but think out the right thing to do and then do it.
Safety First.—We want every American boy and girl to be brave enough to risk his or her life if necessary; but we do not want any one to risk his life carelessly or foolishly.
1. Street Accidents. It is not courage but foolishness to run and play in the street in front of automobiles and trucks. Thousands of children are killed in this way every year. Stealing rides, coasting in the street, and roller skating in the street are all dangerous amusements. Many children do these things and escape, but every now and then one is killed. You may be that one.
2. Accidents from Fire. Another thing that children should be very careful about is fire in any form. I hope you never play with matches or make bonfires, unless you are with some grown person, for much dam-age and the loss of many lives is due to carelessness of this kind.
3. Accidents in the Water. Water is almost as dangerous as fire. If you cannot swim, keep away from bridges and steep banks where you might fall in. When you are in a boat, sit quietly and don't take the chance of upsetting everybody on board.
4. Accidents from Wires. Never touch wires hanging from poles or trees. There may be an electric current passing through them which would give you a fatal shock.
Modern Health Crusaders.—Richard the Lion Heart, about whom you read in Chapter XI, and the other brave soldiers who went out long ago to try to free the Holy City of Jerusalem from the Turks, were called Crusaders. So we give the name "Crusaders" to any group of people who band themselves together to fight against some evil thing. A crusade for health and against disease is one of the things in which we all ought to be concerned. So a short time ago an organization of children was formed called "The Modern Health Crusaders," and it is said that a hundred thousand children are now enrolled. Each child who wants to join is given a card like Fig. 82. Every day at bed-time his father or mother checks off each of the eight chores (given on the left of the card) that the child has done that day. At the bottom for each day is given the total number of chores done for that day. To be a Modern Health Crusader, a child must do at least forty of the chores a week.
I hope every child who has read this book will be at heart a Health Crusader. Whether you actually belong to that organization or not, the essential thing is that you should make up your mind to be strong and well and fit for your country's service, and that you should want to help every one else to be strong and well for the same purpose. That is what being a Modern Health Crusader really means.