Tag Archives: safe

Have a Happy, Safe Halloween!

26 Oct

My love of Halloween is no secret among my friends. I adore all of the rituals, from decorating the house and baking pumpkin-shaped cookies to carving jack-o-lanterns and handing out candy. To make sure your family has a great October 31st, check out the following safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Halloween Safety Tips

ALL DRESSED UP:

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. 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. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • 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.
  • Do not use decorative contact lenses without an eye examination and a prescription from an eye care professional. This can cause pain, inflammation, and serious eye disorders and infections.

CARVING A NICHE:

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Consider using a flashlight or glow stick instead of a candle to light your pumpkin. If you do use a candle, a votive candle is safest.
  • Candlelit 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 from the porch and front yard 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.

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.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.

Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:

  • Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
  • Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
  • 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.
  • Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
  • 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!

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.

For more information, visit www.aap.org.

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Child Proofing Refresher

17 Aug

Child proofing for me has been an ongoing evolutionary challenge.  Just when I think I’ve got everything under control, something (or someone) comes along and shows me how much more should be done!

With my first child, we covered all the basics like outlet covers, locks on the kitchen cabinets that contained chemicals, a bumper pad around the ledges of the fireplace, and having safety doorknob covers on any room we didn’t want her having unsupervised access to.

When my second child came along, we had to forget the doorknob covers (because as soon as she was tall enough, she very quickly learned how to open doors even with the covers on).  We ended up adding a padding to the coffee table which worked until she figured out how to climb on it.  Then, we had to remove it altogether.  We literally had no coffee table in our living room for about three years, which was especially challenging when I hosted book club meetings!

Both girls were relatively good about adhering to my stern looks and voice stating “danger” when they went near something that would be harmful to them.  For example, they never went into the kitchen and tore all the cabinets apart.  They never got into the toilets.  At the time, we didn’t have stairs, so that was also a nonissue.

Since my son has become mobile, it’s been an entirely different experience.  Nothing seems to be off limits to him.  He doesn’t react the same way to my stern face and voice stating “danger”.  He repeats “day-der” and then smiles and does whatever it is again.  He gets into the trash can.  He plays in the toilet.  He climbs the furniture.  I even caught him climbing the outside of the staircase!

At the house we now live in, we do have stairs, so I’ve added gates at the top and bottom.  I still haven’t figured out a way to keep him from climbing the outside ledges though, short of constant supervision.  I’ve had to improvise, for instance, when I have to use the restroom.  I have to use the pack n play, so I know he is safe.  We haven’t yet baby proofed the master bathroom, so I can’t even let him wander around in there while I’m indisposed.  We’ve had to flip a couch upside down, because that’s the only way he couldn’t climb it.  We’ve had to install locks on all of the toilets, the trash can and the recycle can.  We’ve got a lock on the cabinet in the kitchen where the chemicals are stored, but still need to lock everything else up as well.  Anytime I’m in the kitchen, he’s in the kitchen, leaving a trail of chaos in his wake!

I decided it was time for a refresher in baby proofing!  I found this comprehensive list at about.com:

  • Use covers on electrical outlets and latches on cabinets
  • Set the temperature of your hot water heater between 120 and 130 degrees to prevent scalding burns
  • Prevent poisonings by keeping household cleaners, chemicals, and medicines out of reach, storing them in original containers with a child resistant cap
  • Use stair gates and window guards
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers ub tge house and use flame retardant sleepwear
  • Remove furniture with sharp edges or use soft guards
  • Consider using a wall anchor for the stove and large pieces of furniture that can tip over
  • Use nonskid backing on rugs and make sure carpets are securely tacked down
  • Remove breakables from low tables and shelves
  • Remove small toys and other choking hazards from around your child
  • Do not carry hot liquids or food near your child and do not allow your child near stoves, heaters, or other hot appliances (curling irons included).  When cooking, use the back burners and turn pot handles inwards
  • To prevent drowning, empty all water from bathtubs and pails, keep the doors to the bathrooms closed and never leave your child alone in or near any body of water
  • If you must have a gun in the house, keep it and the ammunition in separate locked places

Some other important things to remember: keep a list of emergency contacts near the phone; including the number for poison control.  Lock any rooms that are not child proofed.  Install a safety fencing with a self closing, self latching lock around any swimming pools.  Hot tubs should always be covered and locked while not in use.

Back to School: Keep those healthy lunches safe!

16 Aug

Last year, my daughter purchased lunch five days a week while my son ate lunch at school on Mondays and Wednesdays then brought from home on Fridays. Brown bagging it typically meant a Lunchable (his preference) or a peanut-butter sandwich with a box of raisins and three (yes, three) baby carrots.

My son informed me that as a Kindergartner, he will TAKE his lunch instead of buy from the cafeteria. Fine by me. Packed lunches might enable me to sneak a few new foods into his limited culinary repertoire. Instead of those three carrots, I might pack grape tomatoes or celery sticks. I’ve stocked up on other types of dried fruit, including mango and cherries.

One thing I don’t want to experiment with is safety. I barely survived a nasty bout with salmonella in Bangkok, winding up at the “VD and Diarrhea” clinic for medicine (which was as nightmarish as it sounds).

Here’s a sampling of lunch packing tips I found from the USDA.  For more, visit www.fsis.usda.gov.

Keeping “Bag” Lunches Safe

Keep Everything Clean
Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before you prepare or eat food.  Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.  A solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water may be used to sanitize surfaces and utensils.  Keep family pets away from kitchen counters.

Don’t Cross-Contaminate
Harmful bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and countertops.  Always use a clean cutting board.  When using a cutting board for food that will not be cooked, such as bread, lettuce, and tomatoes, be sure to wash the board after using it to cut raw meat and poultry.  Consider using one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for meat and poultry.

Packing Lunches
It’s fine to prepare the food the night before and store the packed lunch in the refrigerator.  Freezing sandwiches helps them stay cold.  However, for best quality, don’t freeze sandwiches containing mayonnaise, lettuce, or tomatoes.  Add these later.

Insulated, soft-sided lunch boxes or bags are best for keeping food cold, but metal or plastic lunch boxes and paper bags can also be used.  If using paper lunch bags, create layers by double bagging to help insulate the food.  An ice source should be packed with perishable food in any type of lunch bag or box.

Keeping Cold Lunches Cold
Prepare cooked food, such as turkey, ham, chicken, and vegetable or pasta salads, ahead of time to allow for thorough chilling in the refrigerator.  Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers for fast chilling and easier use.  Keep cooked food refrigerated until time to leave home.

To keep lunches cold away from home, include a small frozen gel pack or frozen juice box.

Some food is safe without a cold source.  Items that don’t require refrigeration include whole fruits and vegetables, hard cheese, canned meat and fish, chips, breads, crackers, peanut butter, jelly, mustard, and pickles.

Have a [Safe] Blast! Fireworks Tips

28 Jun

One of my fondest childhood memories centers around older cousins chasing me through the fields of my grandparents’ farm with a lit sparkler.

It’s a wonder I survived!

As a TV reporter in Arkansas, I covered at least a half-dozen serious injuries to children as a result of fireworks use.  The most vivid: Halloween night, a tween boy blew off a hand launching a bottle rocket.

With Fourth of July festivities just days away, I thought I’d put on my über-Mommy knickers and bring you these tips from the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

  • Do not allow young children to play with fire-works under any circumstances.  Sparklers, considered by many to be the ideal “safe” firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing.  Children cannot understand the danger involved with fireworks and may not act appropriately in case of emergency.
  • Older children should be permitted to use fireworks only under close adult supervision.  Do not allow any running or horseplay.
  • Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses, dry leaves, or grass and other flammable materials.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.
  • Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks.  Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Check instructions for special storage directions.
  • Observe local laws.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.

According to CPSC estimates, last year some 8,600 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with fireworks.  More than half of the injuries were burns, and most of the injuries involved the head (including face, eyes, and ears) hands, fingers, and legs.  Children and young adults under the age of 20 years old accounted for more than half of the estimated injuries.  Fireworks should be used only with extreme caution.  Older children should be closely supervised, and younger children should not be allowed to play with fireworks, including sparklers.

Oh, yeah, and have a very Happy Fourth of July!

Safe Summer! Tips for the Pool

31 May

My 5-year-old son does NOT want to take swimming lessons.  But this year (after skipping last summer) I’ve already signed him up for a full summer of Saturday classes.  Case closed.  Though we don’t have a backyard pool, Chip’s babysitter does as do several of his best friends.  Regardless, to my way of thinking, swimming is a critical life skill.

The government agrees!

Here are some stats from the Consumer Product Safety Commission guaranteed to scare any mother:

  • An annual average of 383 pool and spa-related drownings for children younger than 15 occurred from 2006 to 2008; about 76 percent of the reported fatalities involved children younger than five.
  • An estimated average of 5,100 pool or spa emergency department-treated submersions for children younger than 15 occurred each year from 2008 to 2010; children younger than five represented 79 percent of these-injuries.
  • Children between the ages of one and three (12 to 47 months) represented 66 percent of these fatalities and 64 percent of the injuries.
  • About 72 percent of the fatalities from 2006 through 2008, and 55 percent of the estimated injuries from 2008 through 2010 that involved children younger than 15 occurred in a residential pool or spa; children under five made up the majority of incidents at residential locations, with 84 percent of fatalities and 61 percent of injuries, respectively.
  • Tragically, based on reported statistics, 96% of victims involved in a submersion incident will die.  Fatalities usually occur the day of the drowning event (72%).  For the victims who survive the event, most will succumb to their injuries within a week (24%).  Only 4% of near drowning victims will survive beyond a week, and many will have severe injuries and require intensive medical care.
  • There were no reported entrapment fatalities for 2010.  CPSC received three reports of entrapment injury incidents during 2010.

So what can you do to keep your tot safe? A lot! The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • Never leave your children alone in or near the pool, even for a moment.  An adult who knows CPR should actively supervise children at all times.
  • Practice touch supervision with children younger than 5 years.  This means that the adult is within an arm’s length of the child at all times.
  • You must put up a fence to separate your house from the pool.  Most young children who drown in pools wander out of the house and fall into the pool.  Install a fence at least 4 feet high around all 4 sides of the pool.  This fence will completely separate the pool from the house and play area of the yard.  Use gates that self-close and self-latch, with latches higher than your children’s reach.
  • Keep rescue equipment (such as a shepherd’s hook or life preserver) and a telephone by the pool.
  • Do not use air-filled “swimming aids” (i.e. floaties) as a substitute for approved life vests.
  • Remove all toys from the pool after use so children aren’t tempted to reach for them.
  • After the children are done swimming, secure the pool so they can’t get back into it.
  • A power safety cover that meets the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) may add to the protection of your children but should not be used in place of the fence between your house and the pool.  Even fencing around your pool and using a power safety cover will not prevent all drownings.

Keeping Our Kids Safe: National Missing Children’s Day and More

24 May

Etan Patz

My stomach stayed clenched the entire time was researching and writing a magazine piece last week on after-school safety.  One child is abducted every 40 seconds in the United States.  The nationwide Amber Alert program was named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old Arlington resident who was abducted off her bicycle in broad daylight in 1996 and murdered.  It’s the stuff of parental nightmares, causing the kind of imagined pain that actually hurts.

Fortunately, law enforcement officers, social workers, child advocates and teachers around the Metroplex continue doing heroic work in educating kids and their parents about the dangers.  Tomorrow—May 25—is National Missing Children’s Day.  Here is some crucial info for you and your family:

What Parents Can Do To Keep Children Safe

Every year in America an estimated 800,000 children are reported missing, more than 2,000 children each day.  Of that number, 58,000 are abducted by non-family members.  The primary motive for non-family abductions is sexual.  Each year 115 children are the victims of the most serious abductions, taken by non-family members and either murdered, held for ransom, or taken with the intent to keep.

“We know teaching children about safety works,” said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of NCMEC.  “It is important that parents take the time to talk to their children about safety.”

An analysis of attempted abduction cases by NCMEC found that in 82% of the cases, children escaped would-be abductors through their own actions, by yelling, kicking, pulling away, running away or attracting attention.

May 25th is the anniversary of the day in 1979 when 6-year-old Etan Patz disappeared from a New York street corner on his way to school and has been observed as National Missing Children’s Day since 1983 when it was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan.  Etan’s story captivated the nation.  His photo, taken by his father, a professional photographer was circulated nationwide and appeared in media across the country and around the world.  The powerful image of Etan has come to symbolize the anguish and trauma of thousands of searching families.  The search for Etan continues.  He is still missing.

Safety Tips for Your Kids

At Home

1.      Teach your children their full names, address, and home telephone number. Make sure they know your full name.

2.      Make sure your children know how to reach you at work or on your cell phone.

3.      Teach your children how and when to use 911 and make sure your children have a trusted adult to call if they’re scared or have an emergency.

4.      Instruct children to keep the door locked and not to open the door to talk to anyone when they are home alone. Set rules with your children about having visitors over when you’re not home and how to answer the telephone.

5.      Choose babysitters with care. Obtain references from family, friends, and neighbors. Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask children how the experience with the caregiver was and listen carefully to their responses.

On the Net

6.      Learn about the Internet. The more you know about how the Web works, the better prepared you are to teach your children about potential risks. Visit http://www.NetSmartz.org for more information about Internet safety.

7.      Place the family computer in a common area, rather than a child’s bedroom. Also, monitor their time spent online and the websites they’ve visited and establish rules for Internet use.

8.      Know what other access your child may have to the Internet at school, libraries, or friends’ homes.

9.      Use privacy settings on social networking sites to limit contact with unknown users and make sure screen names don’t reveal too much about your children.

10.  Encourage your children to tell you if anything they encounter online makes them feel sad, scared, or confused.

11.  Caution children not to post revealing information or inappropriate photos of themselves or their friends online.

At School

12.  Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out landmarks and safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help. If your children ride a bus, visit the bus stop with them to make sure they know which bus to take.

13.  Remind kids to take a friend whenever they walk or bike to school. Remind them to stay with a group if they’re waiting at the bus stop.

14.  Caution children never to accept a ride from anyone unless you have told them it is OK to do so in each instance.

Out and About

15.  Take your children on a walking tour of the neighborhood and tell them whose homes they may visit without you.

16.  Remind your children it’s OK to say NO to anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused and teach your children to tell you if anything or anyone makes them feel this way.

17.  Teach your children to ask permission before leaving home.

18.  Remind your children not to walk or play alone outside.

19.  Teach your children to never approach a vehicle, occupied or not, unless they know the owner and are accompanied by a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult.

20.  Practice “what if” situations and ask your children how they would respond. “What if you fell off your bike and you needed help? Who would you ask?”

21.  Teach your children to check in with you if there is a change of plans.

22.  During family outings, establish a central, easy-to-locate spot to meet for check-ins or should you get separated.

23.  Teach your children how to locate help at theme parks, sports stadiums, shopping malls, and other public places. Also, identify those people who they can ask for help, such as uniformed law enforcement, security guards and store clerks with nametags.

24.  Help your children learn to recognize and avoid potential risks, so that they can deal with them if they happen.

25.  Teach your children that if anyone tries to grab them, they should make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and resisting.

For more info, visit www.missingkids.com.

Jiggle Butt Run 5K

30 Dec

Start the new year strong with a fun 5K run/walk for women and girls!  The Jiggle Butt Run is on Saturday, January 8 at 9:00 am at UTA (Mavericks Athletic Center).  There will also be the “Wiggle Butt Run” – a 1K fun run for kids under 12.

This event benefits SafeHaven of Tarrant County.

Click here for more information and to register for the Jiggle Butt Run. Online registration ends January 3.

For more information on SafeHaven, click here.

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