Tag Archives: safety

Welcome Home, Charleston!

3 Nov

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, we brought a new being into our home: a black-and-tan Shiba Inu named Charleston.  Unlike Sami, our 7-year-old female red Shiba, Charleston is a rescue pup.  During the summer, we’d applied to the Shiba Inu Rescue of Texas to adopt a shelter dog, in large part because so many are in need.  Why the fascination with Shibas, a small Japanese breed with a reputation as headstrong yet loyal?  Because they don’t make much noise, a big consideration for our teen daughter with autism.

Charleston has transitioned almost seamlessly into our family life.  He’s playful, sweet and loves love!  (He’ll nudge you if you forget to pet him.)  Our 6-year-old son is utterly besotted.  Princess Sami seems to enjoy sharing her domain with this new, furry pal.

Now with Halloween behind us, I’m thinking toward how he’ll react to Christmas and the attendant hullaballoo and décor.

I’m not alone.  According to CSA International, a global testing and certification organization, 60 percent of pet owners are concerned about their pet’s safety when leaving them alone in a house.  Three in 10 Americans have either experienced or know someone who has experienced a holiday decorations-related accident with a pet that required a trip to the vet’s office.

Here are thoughts on safeguarding your home:

  • Up, up and away: When decorating a tree or other indoor areas, place breakable ornaments and electrical decorations up high to protect both small children and pets.
  • Other potential problems: Keep potentially deadly ingestible items out of pets’ reach like chocolate, poinsettias, tinsel and colorful ornaments that may look like a ball or toy.
  • No sparks for Sparky: Whenever possible, protect family and pets from electric shock by connecting all outdoor lighting into receptacles protected by weatherproof ground fault circuit interrupters.
  • Cat and canine candle concerns: Don’t leave lighted candles unattended.  Pets may burn themselves or cause a fire if they knock candles over.  Be sure to use appropriate candle holders, placed on a stable surface, and keep away from combustibles.  And if you leave the room, blow the candle out.
  •  Safe storage: Keep pets away from packages as well as your gift wrapping area.  Swallowed string, ribbon, plastic, and even wrapping paper can lead to intestinal blockage and require a trip to the vet.

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.

52 FEATS – NUMBER 43 (Driving)

25 Oct

For the original 52 FEATS blog entry, click here.

I may not have a ridiculously long commute to work (thank goodness), but I’m still in my car a lot.  A LOT.  Between school drop-off and pick-up, volunteering, dance classes, piano lessons, and all the millions of errands I have to do every day, I log in tons of car time.  (Which explains why my mini-van usually looks like a pack of wild dogs lives in it.)

Lately I’ve gotten worried that I’m just doing too much multi-tasking while I drive.  And I am totally going to throw my kids under the bus (so to speak) and blame them for it.  They’re arguing with each other, they want me to hand them a water bottle, then they want me to take back the water bottle, they need to give me a snotty tissue, they want me to turn on a particular song, they’ve dropped a toy and they need it desperately or life just won’t be the same, etc.  OK, I do take some of the blame, because I go along with all that crap.  I’m shuffling the water bottles back and forth, picking up dropped toys, and playing DJ – all while I’m driving.  Not safe at all.

So my Feat this week is to give my FULL attention to driving, and to teach my kids to respect the fact that I’m behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.  And to all of you out on the road with me – you’re welcome!

Check Your Child’s Car Seat!

23 Sep

Parents and caregivers are urged to have their children’s car seats checked on National Seat Check Saturday, September 24.  As part of Child Passenger Safety Week (September 18-24), certified child passenger safety technicians will be available to inspect car seats and provide hands-on advice free of charge.

For more information, click the link below:

http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/CPS

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.

That Bites! Pet Safety

20 Jul

A good friend’s son recently got a nasty bite on the hand from his Nana’s pooch, a typically well-behaved creature that weighs all of 9 lbs.  The bite required four stitches—and the nurse practitioner who stitched the kid up said he was lucky.

It makes you think.  My 5-year-old likes dogs.  We have a 16-lb. Shiba Inu (a puny relative of the Husky and Akita) who’s had her tail pulled, her ears tugged and been teased.  She’s nipped Chip a couple of times—and I can hardly say I blame her for it!  None of the bites has occurred in a vacuum; each can be traced to something my son’s done.

Then I read this story from UT Southwestern Medical Center, which includes Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  And now I’m worried:

Dog bites occur more often than pet owners might realize.  An estimated 4.7 million people are bitten each year.  Children are the most common victims, and summer is the most common season for these incidents.

“It’s surprising how many times it occurs, and the majority of dog bites aren’t from strays,” says Dr. Ron Hoxworth, a plastic surgeon at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

He said dogs by nature remain territorial, especially when eating, and young children are both unpredictable in their actions and less able to protect themselves.

Children are often bitten on the face, which can result in severe lacerations, infection and permanent scarring.  In 2010, most of the nearly 33,000 reconstructive procedures from dog bites were performed on children.

Dr. Hoxworth recommends the following precautions:

• Watch your children carefully around dogs, even family pets.

• Make sure kids avoid getting close to a pet when it is eating.

• Keep children’s immunizations and pet vaccinations up to date.

• Don’t delay treatment if a bite occurs.  If severe bleeding results, take your child to a hospital emergency room immediately.

I am open to suggestions on how to approach pet safety—at home and out in the community!  It’s a discussion our household needs to have asap!

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