Tag Archives: safety

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.

No, Really, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

17 May

In honor of National Dog Bite Awareness Week, I’m re-posting this blog from last year about my daughter getting bitten by one of our dogs.  More than 4.7 million Americans (most of them children), and 5,600 mail carriers were attacked by dogs last year.  Dogs are wonderful, but they are animals.  Teach your kids to respect them!

It happened just the other day.  One of every parent’s worst nightmares – or at least in the top five.  One of my dogs bit my 2-year-old daughter.

Before you panic or shed any tears, let me assure you that she’s fine – it didn’t even break the skin.  Apparently, she decided to pull our 70-pound dog, Ripley, by her tail, trying to drag her into another room.  Ripley did NOT like that one bit, so of course she reared back and snapped at my daughter’s head.  She really only bonked her, but my daughter was FREAKED.  Screaming, crying, and suddenly terrified of Ripley.

And do you know what my reaction was, once I found out she was OK?

“Good.  Maybe that’ll teach her a lesson.”

I know, it sounds so harsh to read that, but I don’t know what else will get it through my daughter’s head that dogs can hurt you if you are not nice to them!  My husband and I have told our kids a million times to leave the dogs alone – that they don’t want to be ridden, chased, pulled, screamed at, hit with drumsticks, etc.  And they probably don’t really want to be hugged every 5 minutes, either.  Oh yeah, and don’t sneak up on them.  And don’t try to run them over with the play lawnmower or jam stuffed animals in their collars.

OK, so maybe there are lots of rules about the dogs, but these dogs are OLD.  And my kids are…well…”boisterous” is putting it nicely.  And all of them being in the same house is only a recent experience.

My husband and I had our dogs long before we had kids.  We adopted our first dog, Indiana Jones, from a rescue shelter.  We lived in a one-bedroom apartment and had no business getting a dog, but something about Indy just melted our hearts and we took him home.  A few months later we saw our second dog, Lt. Ripley, and realized that Indy needed a sister.  Soon, our dogs became the center of our world.  We had pictures of our dogs all around our house and at our respective jobs.  Yes, we were dog parents years before we had “real” children.

And then, 5 years ago, we had our son, followed a couple of years later by our daughter, the aforementioned tail puller.  Suddenly, our dogs became just pets.  They were no longer the apple of our eye – instead, they were in the way and constantly making messes that we just didn’t have the energy to deal with anymore.  When our daughter was only 6 months old, we decided the dogs couldn’t live inside anymore.

For the next 2 years, our dogs slept outside in the backyard.  They had a shed with crates and blankets.  They never stepped foot in the house.

Then, a couple months ago, my husband went outside to brush Indy, and he was mortified at how dirty and matted his fur was.  I bathed the dogs periodically, but they insisted on sleeping under the bushes in the dirt, so keeping them clean was pretty much a lost cause.  But my husband felt so guilty about Indy looking like a stray mutt, we decided to move them back in.

To the dogs, it’s like they never left.  They came right back in and settled into all their old sleeping places.  They do have the kids to contend with, but for the most part, they’re doing amazingly well in the face of my two little hooligans.  And the kids LOVE it.  They think the dogs are two exotic circus animals that supply a constant source of entertainment.  But all children need to learn that dogs, even long-time beloved pets, are still animals that will defend themselves if they feel scared.  We’re going to keep working on that.

So what happened the next morning, after our little one had such fear instilled in her?  She pranced out of her bedroom when she woke up, ran straight to Ripley, gave her a big hug and sang a song right in her face.  Back to square one!

Britax Car Seat Recall

10 Nov

Recalled: Britax Chaperone Car Seats due to problems with the chest clip.  Some were improperly manufactured and can break apart, injuring the child or possibly choking them.  The following models manufactured in China between April 2009-May 2010 are involved:

  • E9L95P2 (Red Mill)
  • E9L95P3
  • E9L95P5 (Cowmooflage)
  • E9L69N9 (Moonstone)

Click here fore more details: http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/childseat.cfm#mfg_anchor

The Trick to a Fun, Safe Halloween

19 Oct

An ongoing battle with my 5-year-old over this year’s costume (he wants to be a ninja-cowboy-wizard—don’t ask; I want him to wear the astronaut suit Grandma ransomed from FAO Schwartz!) hasn’t dampened my excitement about trick-or-treating.  We live in a busy subdivision; last year, we handed out 135 Twix bars and M&Ms to tiny witches and wee tigers!  This year we’re heading once again to a friend’s neighborhood, a network of about 100 homes accessed via a single street entrance.  The minimal car traffic combined with hordes of kids does this mama’s heart good.

I also try to follow these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Have a safe, funny, happy Halloween!

Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.

Avoid trick-or-treating alone.  Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.

Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.

Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.  Limit the amount of treats you eat.

Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.

Always test make-up in a small area first.  Remove it before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation.

Look both ways before crossing the street.  Use established crosswalks wherever possible.

Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.

Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.

Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.

Eat only factory-wrapped treats.  Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.

Enter homes only if you’re with a trusted adult.  Otherwise, stay outside.

Never walk near lit candles or luminaries.  Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

For more tips, visit http://www.cdc.gov/family/halloween/.

Safety Tats!

21 Sep

A new product called “SafetyTat” is a temporary tattoo that you can apply to your child’s skin.  Unlike most temporary tattoos, these don’t have Disney princesses or Spider-Man on them. They do have a cute little picture, but next to that is written, “If LOST, please call,” and a spot for mom’s or dad’s phone number in case your child gets lost.

They’re waterproof, and the website says they’re great for visits to large, crowded theme parks.  They are also customizable in a variety of ways.

We haven’t tried these yet, but they might be a better idea than ID bracelets, which some children could easily remove.  They might also be ideal for very young children, who don’t know their parents’ names or phone numbers yet.

What do you think?  Does this sound like a product you would find useful?

To check out the SafetyTat website, click here.

Thanks to Kari for the tip on this new product!

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