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Safety Tips

Summer Safety Tips

By | Safety Tips

FUN IN THE SUN

Babies under 6 months:

  • Avoiding sun exposure and dressing infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats are still the top recommendations from the AAP to prevent sunburn. However when adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of sunscreen to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands.

For Young Children:

  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside, and use sunscreen even on cloudy days. The SPF should be at least 15.

For Older Children:

  • The first, and best, line of defense against the sun is covering up. Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward, sunglasses (look for sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays), and cotton clothing with a tight weave.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, and avoid sun exposure during the peak intensity hours – between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 15 or greater. Be sure to apply enough sunscreen – about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after swimming or sweating.

HEAT STRESS IN EXERCISING CHILDREN

  • The intensity of activities that last 15 minutes or more should be reduced whenever high heat and humidity reach critical levels.
  • At the beginning of a strenuous exercise program or after traveling to a warmer climate, the intensity and duration of exercise should be limited initially and then gradually increased during a period of 10 to 14 days to accomplish acclimatization to the heat.
  • Before prolonged physical activity, the child should be well-hydrated. During the activity, periodic drinking should be enforced, for example, each 20 minutes, 5 oz of cold tap water or a flavored sports drink for a child weighing 88 lbs., and 9 oz for an adolescent weighing 132 lbs., even if the child does not feel thirsty.
  • Clothing should be light-colored and lightweight and limited to one layer of absorbent material to facilitate evaporation of sweat. Sweat-saturated garments should be replaced by dry garments.

POOL SAFETY

  • Never leave children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.
  • Install a fence at least four-feet high around all four sides of the pool. The fence should not have openings or protrusions that a young child could use to get over, under, or through the fence.
  • Make sure pool gates open out from the pool, and self-close and self-latch at a height children can’t reach.
  • Keep rescue equipment (a shepherd’s hook – a long pole with a hook on the end – and life preserver) and a portable telephone near the pool.
  • Avoid inflatable swimming aids such as “floaties.” They are not a substitute for approved life vests and can give children a false sense of security.
  • Children may not be developmentally ready for swim lessons until after their fourth birthday. Swim programs for children under 4 should not be seen as a way to decrease the risk of drowning.
  • Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision.”

BUG SAFETY

  • Don’t use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays on your child.
  • Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate, such as stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and gardens where flowers are in bloom.
  • Avoid dressing your child in clothing with bright colors or flowery prints.
  • To remove a visible stinger from skin, gently scrape it off horizontally with a credit card or your fingernail.
  • Insect repellents containing DEET are the most effective.
  • The concentration of DEET in products may range from less than 10 percent to over 30 percent. The benefits of DEET reach a peak at a concentration of 30 percent, the maximum concentration currently recommended for infants and children. DEET should not be used on children under 2 months of age.
  • The concentration of DEET varies significantly from product to product, so read the label of any product you purchase.

PLAYGROUND SAFETY

  • Install and maintain a shock-absorbing surface under and around the play equipment. Use at least 9 inches of wood chips, mulch, or shredded rubber for play equipment up to 7 feet high. If sand or pea gravel is used, install at least a 9-inch layer for play equipment up to 5 feet high.
  • Carefully maintain all equipment. Open “s” hooks or protruding bolt ends can be hazardous.
  • Swing seats should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic or canvas.
  • Make sure children cannot reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part.
  • Never attach-or allow children to attach-ropes, jump ropes, leashes, or similar items to play equipment; children can strangle on these.
  • Make sure metal slides are cool to prevent children’s legs from getting burned.
  • Parents should never purchase a home trampoline or allow children to use home trampolines.
  • Parents should supervise children on play equipment to make sure they are safe.

BICYCLE SAFETY

  • Do not push your child to ride a 2-wheeled bike until he or she is ready, at about age 5 or 6. Consider the child’s coordination and desire to learn to ride. Stick with coaster (foot) brakes until your child is older and more experienced for hand brakes.
  • Take your child with you when you shop for the bike, so that he or she can try it out. The value of a properly fitting bike far outweighs the value of surprising your child with a new bike.
  • Buy a bike that is the right size, not one your child has to “grow into.” Oversized bikes are especially dangerous.
  • Your child needs to wear a helmet on every bike ride, no matter how short or how close to home. Many accidents happen in driveways, on sidewalks, and on bike paths, not just on streets. Children learn best by observing you. Whenever you ride your bike, put on your helmet.
  • When purchasing a helmet, look for a label or sticker that says the helmet meets the CPSC safety standard.
  • A helmet protects your child from serious injury, and should always be worn. And remember, wearing a helmet at all times helps children develop the helmet habit.
  • A helmet should be worn so that it is level on the head, not tipped forwards or backwards. The strap should be securely fastened, and you should not be able to move the helmet in any direction. If needed, the helmet’s sizing pads can help improve the fit.

SKATEBOARD AND SCOOTER SAFETY

  • Children should never ride skateboards or scooters in or near traffic.
  • All skateboarders and scooter-riders should wear a helmet and other protective gear.
  • Communities should continue to develop skateboard parks, which are more likely to be monitored for safety than ramps and jumps constructed by children at home.

LAWN MOWER SAFETY

  • Try to use a mower with a control that stops the mower from moving forward if the handle is let go.
  • Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
  • Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
  • Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
  • Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
  • Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
  • Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.

15 Safety Mistakes Parents Make

By | Safety Tips

By Amy Zintl

From American Baby magazine, October 2003
 

Unintentional injury remains the leading cause of death among children. In 2000, more than 120,000 were permanently disabled from injuries, and 5,600 died. Children younger than 5 account for nearly half o such fatalities.

“Parents often think that if we just watch our kids, they’ll be okay,” says Gary Smith, MD, director of the center for injury research and policy at the Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “But accidents, by definition, occur quickly and without warning. All it takes is that one second when a hot cup of coffee is within reach or a door is left open.”

Since mistakes are often our best teachers, here are some hazardous habits you might be guilty of—and what you can do to correct things.
 

Leaving your child alone in the bathtub

Of course, most parents don’t leave their kids alone in the tub as a matter of course. Yet more than half of all infant drownings occur there. “It’s that one time when you’re waiting for a delivery or a phone call,” says Angela Mickalide, PhD, program director for the National Safe Kids Campaign. “You dash out, and in those few moments your child can get submerged and drown.” A child will lose consciousness within two minutes underwater and irreversible brain damage occurs after four minutes.

Bath seats or rings are often involved in bathtub drownings. Parents think the seats will hold a child while their attention is diverted, but bath seats are not safety devices. The suction cups on the bottom can come loose, causing a child to tip over, or a baby can slip through the leg openings. Each year, eight babies drown in such incidents.

WHAT TO DO: Never leave your child alone in or near any kind of water. Don’t answer the door or the phone or attend to other children without taking your baby with you or draining the tub. Make it clear to older siblings who may be eager to help that they can’t give the baby a bath or play “beach” unless you’re present. Get safety latches for all your toilets and empty any containers that collect water
 

Serving Unsafe Foods

Food accounts for the majority of child choking injuries, and the most common culprits are small, round, hard or gummy foods that easily block the airway. These include nuts, grapes, gummy and hard candies, carrots, popcorn, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, hot dogs, taffy, marshmallows and caramels. Children younger than 3 are most at risk for choking on food because their airway is so small and they tend to put everything in their mouths. “Even spoonfuls of peanut butter can be a hazard, because globs of it easily get stuck in a child’s tiny esophagus,” says Mickalide. (Peanut butter and peanuts are also a danger for kids younger than 3 because they’re highly allergenic.)

WHAT TO DO: Cut all foods into small pieces and make sure children are sitting down while eating. Encourage small bites and chewing slowly and completely. Nix all small, round, smooth or sticky foods.
 

Forgetting About the Pool Next Door

I admit it. My attention wandered every time I heard or read about pool dangers. After all, we don’t own a pool. Then one day I found my 2-year-old on our neighbors’ deck, ready to jump into their pool. We had been playing in the yard, and I stopped to say hello to another friend from the neighborhood. My daughter simply climbed over a low stone wall into our neighbors’ yard and up their steps and unlatched their gate. I was lucky to have noticed in time to stop something horrible from happening. But this scenario isn’t uncommon. The majority of children who drown in pools were last seen in the home, had been out of sight for less than five minutes, and were in the care of one or both parents at the time.

WHAT TO DO: Four-wall fencing of your yard is certainly something to consider, but in the meantime, take other precautions. Think of every pool in the neighborhood—above-ground, in-ground, even wading pools—as a potential danger. Get alarms for your doors that sound when they’re opened to alert you if your child manages to slip out of the house. (Some security systems come with this feature.) Ask your neighbors to lock their pool gate and offer to purchase a pool alarm, which sounds when something falls into the water. Door and pool alarms are available where pools are sold
 

Using a baby walker

Do you really want your child to have the ability to slide here and there at will, banging into furniture and pulling down plants and electronics?  In 2001, 6,400 babies were injured badly enough to go to the hospital as a result of using a walker, and each year two children die. Of those who sustained injuries, three quarters fell down stairs. Eighty percent were supervised at the time of the incident, and more than half had caregivers in the same room. “Kids can scoot four fee per second in a walker,” says Dr. Smith. “Even a triathlete parent can’t sprint across a room to prevent a fall that one time a safety gate is left open.”

WHAT TO DO: Trade your walker for a stationary entertainment center. Babies like them just as much, and you’ll gain a few hands-free moments. It’s especially important to get rid of your baby walker if it was made before July 1997. Walkers made since then must meet additional safety standards, including having a diameter of at least 36 inches (too wide to fit through most, but not all doorways).
 

Neglecting to use a meat thermometer

Cooking food properly is key to protecting your family from food-borne illnesses like E.coli and salmonella. And while a case of E.coli can certainly make an adult ill, it can overwhelm a child’s body and potentially result in kidney failure. Unfortunately, not even half the population owns a meat thermometer. The next time you think you can eyeball when those hamburgers are done, consider this: 1 in 4 turns brown before reaching a safe temperature.

WHAT TO DO: Use a large oven-safe thermometer for roasts and a digital “instant read” thermometer for other meats, such as hamburgers and chicken breasts. Cook until the internal temperature reaches at least 160° for beef and pork, 145° for lamb and veal, and 180° for poultry.
 

Forgetting to change the batteries in your smoke detector

While most homes in the U.S. (94 percent) report having at least one smoke alarm, only 75 percent have a working one. Often the batteries are dead or were removed because the alarm sounded while someone was cooking or taking a hot shower. Each year nearly 40,000 children are injured in home fires, with children younger than 5 twice as likely to die, mainly from smoke inhalation.

WHAT TO DO: Test all your smoke alarms each month, and replace the batteries at least once a year. To help you remember, do it when you change your clocks at the beginning and end of daylight saving time. Safe Kids recommends installing one alarm on every level of your home and in every sleeping area. (Look for alarms that also work as carbon monoxide detectors.) Move detectors away from kitchens and bathrooms to prevent false alarms.
 

Getting latex balloons

Parents really get a mixed message when it comes to balloons, says Dr. Smith. “You can walk into any store and find a bag of latex balloons imprinted with ‘Baby’s First Birthday.’ But this is exactly the age when your child is most at risk for choking on them.” When balloons pop, toddlers manage to find pieces to put into their mouth. The latex easily gets lodged in their throats, which is why balloons account for 44 percent of all child toy-related choking deaths.

WHAT TO DO: Celebrate your baby’s birthday with Mylar balloons instead. Filled with helium, they stay aloft longer. And they don’t pop, breaking into many pieces; they just deflate. Beware of any latex balloons your baby might come across at other parties, such as balloon animals made by the party clown.
 

Using soft bedding

For children younger than 1, suffocation is the number one cause of unintentional injury-related death. Sixty percent of these cases occur in baby’s sleeping environment: infants can wedge their faces into soft, fluffy pillows, quilts, comforters and stuffed animals that easily cover their nose and mouth.

WHAT TO DO: “Have your child sleep in the barest environment possible,” advises Mickalide. Use just one light blanket over him, and tuck the bottom of it under the end of the mattress to create a pocket. The blanket should only reach to the middle of his chest. This ways it can’t be pulled over his head. On chill nights, dress baby in a warm sleeper rather than piling on more bedding. And use that adorable crib comforter as a decorative wall hanging.
 

Drinking coffee while holding the baby

You’re desperate for a cup of joe but reluctant to put down the baby in case she wakes up. However, you could be setting yourself up for an accident. Scalds from hot liquids are the most common type of burns for young children, whose thinner skin burns more easily than an adult’s. “Even coffee that’s not too hot to drink can really scald a child,” says Mickalide.

WHAT TO DO: Put down the baby while you drink your coffee. Be just as careful on the go, even with a lid on the cup. “If you were carrying baby and take-out coffee and you were to trip, your natural tendency would be to squeeze that paper cup,” says Mickalide. At home, move your coffeemaker far back on the counter, wind up the cord, and keep your mug out of reach.
 

Setting the water too high

Hot tap water accounts for about a quarter of all scald burns but causes more deaths and hospitalizations than other hot liquids, because these injuries tend to be more severe and cover a larger portion of the body. Manipulating the faucet to get water the right temperature for hand washing, or to fill Barbie’s pool, is a skill young children simply don’t have yet. And there’s no need for tap water to be so hot anyway. Most people take a bath at 96-98°.

WHAT TO DO: Set your water heater so that the temperature is no hotter than 120°. If your water heater doesn’t have numbers, set it somewhere between the medium and low settings. Also ask a plumber to check it. If you’re unable to control the setting, install anti-scald faucets, which turn off the flow when the water gets too hot.
 

Forgetting to childproof Grandma’s purse

Nana’s handbag can be a real hazard, possibly containing medications, cosmetics, cigarettes, a sewing kit, loose change, gum and hard candies. In almost 1 in 4 cases of children ages 4 and younger ingesting prescription drugs, the medicine belonged to someone who didn’t live with the child—usually a grandparent. Many seniors opt for non-childproof, easy-open caps on their prescriptions, or they carry a week’s worth of doses in flip-top plastic boxes marked with the days. Even an adult vitamin can be toxic to a child.

WHAT TO DO: Don’t be shy. When grandparents come over or you visit them, ask to place their purse or bag on top of the refrigerator or lock it in a cabinet right away. My mom keeps hers locked in the car. Remind them how dangerous even vitamins can be.
 

Allowing kids to ride in the front seat

The backseat is the safest place for children because it’s farthest away from the impact of a front-end collision—the most common kind of car accident. In addition, the passenger-side air bag, while life-saving for most adults, can deploy with such force that it’s deadly to young kids. Just since last October 127 children have been killed by air bags, including 22 babies in rear-facing car seats that were placed in the front seat.

WHAT TO DO: Kids should continue riding in the backseat until at least age 12. Remind grandparents about the backseat rule.
 

Turning the car seat around too soon

You may be eager to see your baby’s face in the rear-view mirror, but your child must be in a rear-facing seat until he is at least 20 pounds and 1 year old, at the minimum. Some kids reach 20 pounds before 1 year of age, but that doesn’t matter. “Under age 1, a child’s head is disproportionately large compared to her body,” says Mickalide. “If she’s facing forward in a crash, her head will fall forward dramatically and do serious damage to the spinal cord and neck. If a child rides backward, the force of the crash is distributed over a larger surface of the body—the shoulders, back and buttocks.”

WHAT TO DO: Yes, it can be disconcerting to face your baby backward so you’re unable to see or soothe her, but it’s for her own good. Don’t be tempted to purchase mirrors sold in baby stores that attach to the seat or the rear window, giving a peek at baby’s reflection; they can be dangerous in a crash, as baby can smash into or be hit by them. If your child outgrows the infant seat before her first birthday, switch to a convertible seat, but also install it to face the rear of the car.
 

Storing your firearm loaded

The unintentional firearm injury death rate among American children is nine times higher than in 25 other industrialized countries. About one third of families with children have a gun in the home, and an estimated 2.3 million American children live in homes with firearms that are always or sometimes kept unlocked and loaded.

WHAT TO DO: Get a trigger lock for your firearm and keep it in a locked cabinet. Lock up the ammunition in a separate place. If you must carry your weapon to and from work, load and unload it at work, not at home. All kids are curious about guns, no matter how used to seeing them they may be—and they are very good at finding them and imitating your actions. A 3-year-old is strong enough to pull a handgun trigger.

Halloween Safety Tips

By | Safety Tips

HALLOWEEN SAFETY TIPS

ALL DRESSED UP:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

CARVING A NICHE:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers. Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Votive candles are safest for candle-lit pumpkins.
  • Lighted pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

HOME SAFE HOME:

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently bite a trick-or-treater because they are frightened.

ON THE TRICK-OR-TREAT TRAIL:

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.

Remind Trick-or Treaters:

  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Carry a mobile phone for quick communication.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on.
  • Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
  • Never cut across yards or use alleys.
  • Never enter a stranger’s home or car for a treat.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom).
  • Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

HEALTHY HALLOWEEN:

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

Winter Safety Tips

By | Safety Tips

Winter Safety Tips

Whether winter brings severe storms, light dustings or just cold temps, the American Academy of Pediatrics has some valuable tips on how to keep your child safe and warm.

What to Wear

  • Dress infants and children warmly for outdoor activities. Several thin layers will keep them dry and warm. Clothing for children should consist of thermal long johns, turtlenecks, one or two shirts, pants, sweater, coat, warm socks, boots, gloves or mittens, and a hat.
  • The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions.
  • Blankets, quilts, pillows, sheepskins and other loose bedding may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and should be kept out of an infant’s sleeping environment. Sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers is preferred.
  • If a blanket must be used to keep a sleeping infant warm, it should be tucked in around the crib mattress, reaching only as far as your baby’s chest, so the infant’s face is less likely to become covered by bedding.

Hypothermia

  • Hypothermia develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing.
  • As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. His speech may become slurred and his body temperature will decline.
  • If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing, and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.

Frostbite

  • Frostbite happens when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. This condition tends to happen on extremities like the fingers, toes, ears and nose. They may become pale, gray and blistered. At the same time, the child may complain that her skin burns or has become numb.
  • Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play. Have children come inside periodically to warm up.
  • If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten nose, ears and lips.
  • Do not rub the frozen areas.
  • After a few minutes, dry and cover him with clothing or blankets. Give him something warm to drink.
  • If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.

Winter Health

  • If your child suffers from winter nosebleeds, try using a cold air humidifier in the child’s room at night. Saline nose drops may help keep tissues moist. If bleeding is severe or recurrent, consult your pediatrician.
  • Many pediatricians feel that bathing two or three times a week is enough for an infant’s first year. More frequent baths may dry out the skin, especially during the winter.
  • Cold weather does not cause colds or flu. But the viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter, when children are in school and are in closer contact with each other. Frequent hand washing and teaching your child to sneeze or cough away from others may help reduce the risk of colds and flu.
  • Children between the ages of 6 and 23 months should get the influenza vaccine to reduce their risk of catching the flu.

WINTER SPORTS AND ACTIVITIES

Ice Skating

  • Allow children to skate only on approved surfaces. Check for signs posted by local police or recreation departments, or call your local police department to find out which areas have been approved.
  • Advise your child to: skate in the same direction as the crowd; avoid darting across the ice; never skate alone; not chew gum or eat candy while skating.

Sledding

  • Keep sledders away from motor vehicles.
  • Children should be supervised.
  • Keep young children separated from older children.
  • Sledding feet first or sitting up, instead of lying down head-first, may prevent head injuries.
  • Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes.
  • Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.
  • Sled slopes should be free of obstructions like fire hydrants or fences, be covered in snow not ice, not be too steep (slope of less than 30º), and end with a flat runoff.
  • Avoid sledding in overcrowded areas.

Snow Skiing and Snowboarding

  • Children should be taught to ski or snowboard by a qualified instructor in a program designed for children.
  • Never ski or snowboard alone. Young children should always be supervised by an adult. Older children’s need for supervision depends on their maturity and skill.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under age 7 not snowboard.
  • Consider wearing a helmet.
  • Equipment should fit the child. Skiers should wear safety bindings that are adjusted at least every year. Snowboarders should wear gloves with built-in wrist guards.
  • Slopes should fit the ability and experience of the skier or snowboarder. Avoid overcrowded slopes.

Sun Protection

  • The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow. Make sure to cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen.

Snowmobiling

  • The AAP recommends that children under age 16 not operate snowmobiles and that children under age 6 never ride on snowmobiles.
  • Do not use a snowmobile to pull a sled or skiers.
  • Wear goggles and a safety helmet approved for use on motorized vehicles like motorcycles.
  • Travel at safe speeds.
  • Never use alcohol or other drugs before or during snowmobiling.
  • Never snowmobile alone.
  • Stay on marked trails, away from roads, water, railroads and pedestrians.

Holiday Safety Tips

By | Safety Tips

TREES

  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.”
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness because a fresh tree is less of a fire hazard.
  • The tree should be green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt should be sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters.
  • Place the tree out of the way of traffic and don’t allow it to block doorways.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.

LIGHTS

  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.
  • To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks.
  • Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Check all tree lights-even if you’ve just purchased them-before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.

DECORATIONS

  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable, keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.”
  • Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
  • Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child, or can cause a fire if near flame.

TOY SAFETY

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
  • Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age ten) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Children under age three can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.

FOOD SAFETY

  • Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits.
  • Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands.
  • Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same.
  • Never put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it.
  • Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separate, and use separate utensils when preparing them.
  • Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Monitor your children’s intake of holiday sweets. It’s okay to let them indulge for a special occasion, but be sure to balance it out with healthier food choices the rest of the time.

HAPPY VISITING

  • Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
  • Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots.
  • Keep a laminated list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the poison control center.
  • Ask your neighbor if he has a gun before sending your kids over to play. If the answer is yes, you need to make absolutely sure that all guns are stored unloaded and locked – ideally in a gun safe – with ammunition locked separately. Include the question along with other things you might normally discuss before sending your child to someone’s house.
  • Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Sticking to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.

FIREPLACES

  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorated from fireplace area. Check to see that flue is open.
  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
  • Have a safe and happy holiday!

Summer Safety Tips – Part 2

By | Safety Tips

FIREWORKS SAFETY

Source: aap.org

  • Fireworks can result in severe burns, scars and disfigurement that can last a lifetime.
  • Fireworks that are often thought to be safe, i.e. sparklers, can reach temperatures above 1000 degrees F, and can burn users and bystanders.
  • The AAP recommends prohibiting public sale of all fireworks, including those by mail or Internet, and encourages parents to attend professional fireworks displays instead of using fireworks at home.

BOATING SAFETY

Source: aap.org

  • Children should wear life jackets at all times when on boats or near bodies of water.
  • Make sure the life jacket is the right size for your child. The jacket should not be loose. It should always be worn as instructed with all straps belted.
  • Blow-up water wings, toys, rafts and air mattresses should never be used as life jackets or life preservers.
  • Adults should wear life jackets for their own protection, and to set a good example.

OPEN WATER SWIMMING

  • Even good swimmers need buddies. Make sure your child knows never to swim alone.
  • A lifeguard or another adult (preferably one who knows about water rescue) needs to be watching children at all times.
  • Make sure your child knows never to dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
  • Never let your child swim in canals or any fast-moving water.
  • Ocean swimming should be allowed only when a lifeguard is on duty.
  • Younger children should be closely supervised while in the water – use “touch supervision,” keeping no more than an arm’s length away.

ALL-TERRAIN VEHICLES

Source: aap.org

  • Off-road vehicles are particularly dangerous for children younger than 16 years who may have immature judgment and motor skills. Children who are not licensed to drive a car should not be allowed to operate off-road vehicles.
  • Injuries frequently occur to passengers; therefore riding double should not be permitted.
  • All riders should wear helmets, eye protection and protective reflective clothing. Appropriate helmets are those designed for motorcycle (not bicycle) use, and should include safety visors/face shields for eye protection.
  • Parents should never permit the street use of off-road vehicles, and nighttime riding should not be allowed.
  • Flags, reflectors and lights should be used to make vehicles more visible.
  • Drivers of recreational vehicles should not drive after drinking alcohol. Parents should set an example for their children in this regard.
  • Young drivers should be discouraged from on-road riding of any 2-wheeled motorized cycle, even when they are able to be licensed to do so, because they are inherently more dangerous than passenger cars.

Suntans, Sunburns and Sunscreens

By | Safety Tips

Why are physicians concerned about sunburns and suntans?  For starters, too much sun exposure can cause actinic keratosis, melanomas, skin cancer and premature skin aging.  They are all a nuisance and some are potential killers.

These problems, as well as several others, are part of living in a sun worshiping culture.  To avoid these, we need to start from birth.  The first two decades of life are crucial in preventing later problems from over exposure to the sun.  Malignant melanomas are one type of cancer death we can prevent.

A single blistering sunburn in a child or teenager will double that person’s later risk of developing a melanoma.  How many of us haven’t had a bad sunburn?  Many of us take vacations in the sun and enjoy the opportunity of coming home and showing off gorgeous tans.  Unfortunately, all this damage is cumulative.  Each time the skin is over exposed to the sun, it speeds the premature aging process and increases the risk of subsequent cancers.

What about all those tanning parlors that claim their tanning rays are safe?  These tanning parlors became popular in the late 1970s and began the myth that ultraviolet A was safe.  This myth has been disproven in numerous medical studies.  Ultraviolet tanning rays contribute to skin aging and skin cancer, regardless of what anyone says.

Are sunscreens safe for children?  Yes, they are unless your child is allergic to them.  To test for allergies, dab some on a small patch on his or her forearm and observe for 24 hours.  If the test patch does not become red or itchy, it should be safe to use the sunscreen.  I recommend limiting a child’s sun exposure during the first year of life.  However, if your children are going to be in the sun, I recommend sunscreens for everyone.

For blondes and redheads, I recommend a #15 or higher sunscreen and for brunettes, #8 to #15.  For infants under one year of age, I recommend at least a #20 sunscreen.  Just for reference, a light-weight white t-shirt is supposed to be equivalent to #30 to #50 sunscreen.

Do your lips need sunscreen?  Yes, particularly the lower lip, which has the most direct sun exposure.  I recommend either a medicated lip balm with built-in sunscreen or one of the zinc oxide preparations.  Most kids really enjoy the new colored zinc oxide sunscreens.

In summary, I recommend limiting sun exposure during direct over-head sunlight (i.e. from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.), stay away from tanning parlors and sun lamps, and remember that even on cloudy days you can get sunburned.  All forms of tanning are damaging to your skin, so I would recommend moderating your sun exposure to preserve healthy and young-looking skin.

What Every Parent Should Know About Lead Poisoning

By | Safety Tips

Lead is a soft, pale gray metal found naturally in the earth. It is used in paint for bridges, boats, and factories, in making batteries, and in many other products such as pottery glazes and printing inks. When lead gets into the body, it enters the bloodstream and the soft tissues and organs such as the liver, kidneys, and even the brain.  In time, it settles in the bones and teeth. As the amount of lead builds up, lead poisoning occurs. Lead usually does not cause symptoms until the poisoning becomes very dangerous. Although lead poisoning can affect every part of the body, damage to the brain and nervous system is of most concern. Young children are more likely to be hurt by lead than older children or adults, because their brains are still developing. A child with severe lead poisoning may complain of stomach aches or headaches, act tired or be overactive, not play as much as she used to, sleep more or less than usual, eat less, or vomit, but most children with lead poisoning show no symptoms at all. In the worst cases, the brains of children with lead poisoning can swell, causing lack of coordination, vomiting, loss of consciousness, seizures, and—if they don’t get the right treatment in time—some children can die.

Even small amounts of lead in the body are harmful. Sometimes, children who are exposed to lead, especially when they are very young, may have a hard time controlling their behavior, and when they get to school they may have trouble keeping up with their classmates.

How do children get lead poisoning?

Children sometimes swallow paint chips, soil, water, or food that has lead in it, but usually they swallow dust that contains lead. If they live in a building that is being rebuilt, or where lead paint is being scraped, sanded, or burned, they may breathe in tiny lead paint particles or fumes. If a pregnant woman is exposed to lead dust or fumes, the lead in her body may pass through the placenta into her unborn baby’s body.

The way young children behave adds to the problem. Little children crawl on the floor, get dust and dirt on their hands, and put their hands in their mouths. They suck on toys, pacifiers, and thumbs, and chew their fingernails. Sometimes they eat things that aren’t food—paint chips, or soil from the backyard or playground.

Paint. Most of the lead children are exposed to comes from peeling lead-based paint. Most paint made before 1960 and many paints made before 1979 were made with lead. This paint was used outside and inside of houses. Since 1979 the amount of lead in paints has decreased significantly.  Paints with unsafe levels of lead are no longer available except for boats and industrial and military use. Unfortunately, these paints still occasionally end up being used in homes.

Severe poisoning can occur quickly if children eat chips of peeling lead paint, the kind you sometimes see in window wells or along baseboards. Lead-based paints break down as they age into smaller and smaller pieces that eventually become particles of dust. This dust alone is most often the cause of lead poisoning.

Soil. Leaded gasoline fumes from automobile exhaust used to be another major source of lead in the environment. These days, leaded gas has been almost completely phased out of use in the US (only very old cars and some farm equipment still use it), but the lead particles that have settled out of the air onto the ground are still there. Unlike some other kinds of pollution, lead never breaks down into something less dangerous. It’s poisonous for all time. Concentrations are especially high alongside busy roadways.

Water. In the last century, the pipes that brought water into the house were often made of lead.  Lead pipes are still found occasionally in places where water pipes haven’t been replaced since the early 1900s, More recently, solder containing lead was used to seal water pipes and cans of food.  Licensed plumbers are no longer allowed to use leaded solder in household pipes, but people who do their own repairs or fix up their own houses may be using lead solder without realizing that it’s dangerous.


Food. Food cans in the US are no longer made with lead solder, but cans made in some other countries may still contain lead. Commercially made pottery and ceramic dishes that have not been glazed correctly may also be a source of lead, and storing food or beverages in china patterned with lead glazes or in lead crystal can also be a danger. Antique pewter dishes or mugs often contain lead.

Dye. Dyes on newspapers, comic books, and magazines that have been printed with red, yellow, or orange ink may be a source of lead. Don’t burn these papers in fireplaces or allow children to chew on them. Lettering on plastic wrappers should be kept away from contact with food since the dye may contain lead.

Objects made of lead. Fishing sinkers, bullets, old printing type, some toy soldiers, battery casings, and curtain weights may contain lead.

Work. Factories that process lead (lead smelters and battery manufacturers, for example) may pollute the air and soil, and adults who work in industries that use or process lead may carry lead dust home on their clothes and shoes. Workers can be exposed to lead in aircraft factories, brass foundries, brass and copper manufacturing, radiator repair, construction, bridge repair, painting contracting, mining, and working at firing ranges.

Crafts and hobbies. Artists working with stained glass and jewelry may use lead solder, and some of the glazes used in making ceramics contain lead.

Medicines and cosmetics. Many traditional medicines such as greta and azarcon, which some Mexican families use for children’s stomach upsets, and some cosmetics used in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa (surma, kohl) are made with lead.

How can you prevent lead poisoning?

The best way to prevent lead poisoning is to learn about lead hazards and keep your child away from them.

Here are some specific actions you can take:

  • Find out whether your house contains lead paint (usually found in houses built before 1960, but may be found in homes built as late as 1979), especially if the paint is peeling or breaking down. You can find out when your house was built by looking at the tax records in the municipal office of your city or town. Your local health department can tell you where to get paint, water, and soil samples tested for lead and how you can get your home inspected.
  • If your house has lead-based paint in it, don’t vacuum or sweep windowsills or uncarpeted floors; that just spreads the lead dust. Instead, wash or wet-mop all hard surfaces once or twice a week with a high-phosphate cleaner. You can find one called TSP in paint and hardware stores, cruse an automatic dishwasher detergent that contains 5% to 8% phosphate. Follow the directions on the package to make the cleaning solution.  Usually, about 1/4 cup of high phosphate cleaner in a gallon of warm water is the right mixture. If you find loose paint chips on windowsills or wells, use a cloth soaked with the high phosphate cleaning solution to pick them up. Dispose of the chips in a safe place where the children can’t get at it; down the toilet, for example. The used cleaning solution can go down the toilet, too. Wash the rags and mops used for lead cleanup separately from other laundry, or use disposable rags.
  • Be careful about any remodeling, renovation, or work on the house. Sanding, scraping, or burning lead-based paint will contaminate the air in your house as well as the neighborhood.
  • If you find peeling lead paint, take immediate steps to keep your children away from it. Check places your child visits as well, such as day care or a relative’s house. You can cover small areas temporarily with sticky-backed contact paper, and block off access to larger areas with furniture or partitions.
  • Don’t try to remove lead paint yourself. That’s a job for a professional. Call your local or state health department for advice. Have peeling lead paint removed or covered by someone specially trained to do so in a non-hazardous and effective way. Children and pregnant women must stay out of the house until the work is finished and the house has been thoroughly cleaned of lead dust.
  • Wash your child’s toys frequently with mild soap and water, and rinse and dry them well (dampness attracts dust). Pacifiers should be rinsed and dried even more frequently than toys. Help your children wash their hands with soap and water after playing outside and before eating (snacks included), or do it for them. Wash their faces also. Be certain to dry well.
  • Supervise your children’s play to stop them from swallowing lead-contaminated dirt or paint chips. Don’t let children play in soil next to the house, where peeling paint chips may have fallen. Encourage play in grassy areas away from the house.
  • Find out whether your job or hobby involves work with items that contain lead. If you work with lead, leave your work clothes or shoes at work; don’t bring them into the house.
  • Always use cold water for drinking or cooking, especially for mixing infant formula. If you haven’t run the water for several hours, flush the pipes by letting the cold water run until it’s as cold as it gets. You can also have your water tested for lead.
  • Nutrition affects how much of the lead a child swallows gets taken into the body. Empty stomachs absorb more lead, so don’t let children go too long between meals. Calcium and iron decrease the body’s absorption of lead. Give your child lots of foods containing calcium (milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables like turnip greens and collards, broccoli, salmon or sardines canned with bones, molasses, and rhubarb) and iron (red meats, pork, liver, chicken, turkey, canned tuna fish, dried beans-black, kidney, pinto, or baked, peanut butter, iron-fortified cereals, and egg yolks). Eating a lot of fat makes it easier for lead to be absorbed by the body. Avoid fried foods and other high fat foods. Young children should drink whole or 2% milk, however, not skim or nonfat.
  • Because lead is so prevalent in the environment and even small amounts are hazardous to children, have your child’s blood tested for lead when he or she is 9 to 12 months of age, and again at about age 2-sooner and more often if you live in a house or a community with hazards from lead-based paint or contaminated water or soil.
  • If your child’s test shows a high lead level, don’t be frightened. If a retest confirms the first result, your doctor will help you find out where the lead is coming from, put you in touch with governmental agencies that can help you deal with the problem, and-in the small number of cases where the amount of lead is a serious danger, help you get treatment to remove the lead from your child’s body.