Halloween Safety

If you do participate in Halloween, here are some tips we originally published in 2009. Have a good night, whatever you’re doing!

Pumpkin Festival
source: nates_pics

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

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. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • 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.

Carve 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.
  • Candle-lit 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, 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.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

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:
    1. Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    2. Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
    3. Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    4. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    5. Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    6. Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    7. 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.

© 10/09 American Academy of Pediatrics

For even more safety tips, to send these tips to a friend, or to download them in Spanish, visit http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/octhalloween.cfm.

Safe Swimming

Check out the following swimming safety tips to help stay safe this summer.

  1. July_26_Swimming.jpgDon’t Swim Alone. Do not allow children to swim without an adult. Even adults should never swim alone. In a pool, swim at a depth that is safe for you. Keep in mind that swimming at night increases all risks.
  2. Follow Regulations. If you are at a public pool or beach, follow all regulations and lifeguard directions.  Depth markers are important. Never dive into shallow water. Additionally, if there is not a lifeguard on duty, take extra safety precautions.
  3. Learn to Swim. Learning basic swimming and floating techniques saves lives. Check with your local YMCA or community pool for information on swimming lessons from a certified swimming instructor.
  4. Safety Equipment. It is important to keep rescue equipment by the pool or on your boat. Life preservers and life jackets should be easy to access in case of an emergency. At home, keep a telephone and emergency numbers poolside. Additionally, parents should know CPR. Statistics show that when CPR is performed, it improves the outcome for drowning victims.
  5. Fencing. If you have a pool at home, make sure the pool is completely surrounded by fencing.  Fencing should be at least four feet high and separate the house, yard, or play area from the pool. Fencing latches and locks should be high enough to be out of the reach of children. Remove all toys from the pool and surrounding areas immediately after use. The presence of toys may encourage children to enter the pool area unsupervised.
  6. Flotation Vests. When boating, you should wear a Coast Guard-approved flotation vest, regardless of your swimming abilities. Even while wading in the ocean or at the lake, it is recommended to wear a personal flotation device. This is especially important for inexperienced swimmers and children. Remember, water wings, noodles, inner tubes, and rafts should never take the place of an approved flotation device.
  7. Designated Areas. Swim only at designated beaches or in swimming areas marked with buoys that keep boaters, water skiers and jet skiers away. If you cross these buoys, you run the risk of not being seen by boaters, and you could potentially be injured. Additionally, rip currents, tides, and water depths may be different the farther out you swim.
  8. Surf Conditions. Ask a lifeguard about surf conditions before swimming in the ocean. Rip tides are dangerous and can catch even the best swimmers off guard. If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to the shore. Once you are free of the current, swim toward the shore.  Rip currents can be recognized as water that is discolored, choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from the shore. Report any hazardous conditions to the lifeguard.
  9. Warning Flags. Beaches post warning flags to alert swimmers of the day’s conditions.  Be sure to check these flags before entering the water. a. Double Red: The beach is closed. b. Red: No swimming allowed – Dangerous conditions. Usually this flag is up when there are extremely dangerous rip currents. c. Yellow: Swim with caution. Be cautious of strong long shore currents or other swimming hazards. d. Green: Safe swimming conditions. Swim with usual care.

Did you know?

  • Swimming is the third most popular recreational activity.
  • Ninety two percent of children who survive a drowning are discovered within two minutes following submersion, and 86% children who die are found after 10 minutes.
  • The 2010 hurricane season runs from June 1 – November 30. Hurricanes can create dangers in the water such as rip currents, increased swell sizes and larger waves. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, rip currents cause approximately 100 deaths annually in the United States.
  • Children from non-swimming households are eight times more likely to be at-risk of drowning.

For swimming safety information, visit www.homesafetycouncil.org.

About the author:  Bret Almassy is the Vice President of Residential Services for AlliedBarton Security Services, www.alliedbarton.com, the industry’s premier provider of highly trained security personnel to many industries including commercial real estate, higher education, healthcare, residential communities, chemical/petrochemical, government, manufacturing and distribution, financial institutions, and shopping centers.

Sports Injury Prevention Tips

My boys love sports! They are both playing baseball right now, and my oldest also is running track for his school. But how much is too much? And how can I guard him against injuries. The following tips are provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to answer questions like these.

Injury Risks

All sports have a risk of injury. In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of injury. 

JandC.jpgMost injuries occur to ligaments (connect bones together), tendons (connect muscles to bones) and muscles. Only about 5 percent of sports injuries involve broken bones. However, the areas where bones grow in children are at more risk of injury during the rapid phases of growth. In a growing child, point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if minimal swelling or limitation in motion is appreciated. 

Most frequent sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments) and strains (injuries to muscles), caused when an abnormal stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. As always, contact your pediatrician if you have additional questions or concerns. 

To reduce injury:

  • Wear the right gear.  Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear.  Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will protect them from performing more dangerous or risky activities.
  • Strengthen muscles.  Conditioning exercises before games and during practice strengthens muscles used in play.
  • Increase flexibility.  Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility.
  • Use the proper technique.  This should be reinforced during the playing season.
  • Take breaks.  Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
  • Play safe.  Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and body checking (ice hockey) should be enforced.
  • Stop the activity if there is pain.
  • Avoid heat injury by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.

Sports-Related Emotional Stress

The pressure to win can cause significant emotional stress for a child. Sadly, many coaches and parents consider winning the most important aspect of sports. Young athletes should be judged on effort, sportsmanship and hard work. They should be rewarded for trying hard and for improving their skills rather than punished or criticized for losing a game or competition.

For the AAP site and entire article, click here.

What are some things you have had to watch for as your children play sports?

 

National Poison Prevention Week

PoisonPreventionWeek.jpg

Each year, approximately 2.4 million people — more than half under age 6 — swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some important tips to prevent and to treat exposures to poison.

To poison proof your home:
Most poisonings occur when parents or caregivers are home but not paying attention. The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene, and lamp oil. Be especially vigilant when there is a change in routine. Holidays, visits to and from grandparents’ homes, and other special events may bring greater risk of poisoning if the usual safeguards are defeated or not in place.

  • Store medicine, cleaners, paints/varnishes, and pesticides in their original packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of children.
  • Install a safety latch — that locks when you close the door — on child-accessible cabinets containing harmful products.
  • Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps. Discard unused medication.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage.
  • Never place poisonous products in food or drink containers.
  • Keep coal, wood, or kerosene stoves in safe working order.
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Treatment
If your child is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizures due to poison contact or ingestion, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If your child has come in contact with poison, and has mild or no symptoms, call your poison control center at 1(800) 222-1222.

Different types and methods of poisoning require different, immediate treatment:

  • Swallowed poison – Remove the item from the child, and have the child spit out any remaining substance. Do not make your child vomit. Do not use syrup of ipecac.
  • Skin poison — Remove the child’s clothes and rinse the skin with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Eye poison — Flush the child’s eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room temperature water into the inner corner.
  • Poisonous fumes – Take the child outside or into fresh air immediately. If the child has stopped breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do not stop until the child breathes on his or her own or until someone can take over.

Excerpted with permission of the American Academy of Pediatrics, February 2010.

New AAP Web Site for Parents

healthy-children-logo-beta.gifDo you have questions about H1N1, car seats, how your baby is sleeping, or what foods are best for your kids? Begin your search for the best medical information at www.healthychildren.org, the new parenting Web site developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), an organization of over 60,000 pediatricians.

While you are there, browse for a pediatrician in your area. Search through topics of interest for parents or sign up to have information tailored directly for your parenting stage. Don’t see what you are looking for? Click on the "Ask a Pediatrician" link and get your specific questions answered. Also, download a copy of Healthy Children magazine while you are there.

What are other great information sites you have found helpful in your parenting?

Holiday Safety Tips

Thanksgiving is just over a week away and many families are already putting up their Christmas decorations! The holidays are an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday season, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Trees

  • 93_Christmas-tree.jpgWhen purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "Fire Resistant."
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • 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 do not block doorways.
  • 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.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.

Lights

  • Check all tree lights — even if you have 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young 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.

 

2009 – American Academy of Pediatrics

Stay tuned to the blog for even more safety tips from the AAP next week!

Enjoy the Pool — Safely!

IMG_4236.JPG

We have had the best summer with both our boys (that’s them in the pool earlier this summer) on the swim team at our local YMCA. They have both improved so much! It was a lot of hard work but we are a bit sad now that the season is over. Now that they both know how to swim, w  e relax a bit more when they are in the water, but there are still important steps to take to protect them.

Consider the following tips from the TIPP program (The Injury Prevention Program) provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

  • Never let your child swim in any body of water without an adult watching.
  • Be sure the adult watching your child knows how to swim, get emergency help, and perform CPR.
  • Keep a life preserver and shepherd’s hook in the pool area to help pull a child to the edge of the pool when necessary.
  • Don’t let young children and children who cannot swim use inflatable toys or mattresses in water that is above the waist.
  • Watch children closely when they are playing near standing water, wells, open post holes, or irrigation or drainage ditches.
  • Teach your child to swim once he or she is ready (usually around 5 years old).
  • Teach your child safety rules and make sure they are obeyed:
  1. Never swim alone.
  2. Never dive into water except when permitted by an adult who knows the depth of the water and who has checked for underwater objects.
  3. Always use a life jacket when on a boat, fishing, or playing in a river or stream.

Check out the AAP Web site for other tips on water safety and the TIPP home page for injury prevention tips for your children at all ages and stages of development.

Where have you taken your kids to swim this summer?

Fun in the Sun — Safely!

56_Child-with-sunscreen.jpgDo you remember what if feels like to be sunburned? Miserable! That memory of the pain of sunburn is enough to remind me to slather on the sunscreen when I know I am going to be out in the sun for prolonged periods of time. However, I am occasionally reminded that sunburns can happen anytime of year and even on cloudy days. I forgot the sunscreen once this baseball season on what started out as a cloudy, rainy day. By the end of the game I had gotten my share of sun!

As you head outside this summer, here are some sun safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for your kids:

Babies Under 6 Months

  • Avoid sun exposure and dress infants in lightweight long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and brimmed hats that shade the neck to prevent sunburn.
  • When adequate clothing and shade are not available, parents can apply a minimal amount of suncreen with at least 15 SPF (sun protection factor) to small areas, such as the infant’s face and the back of the hands.
  • If an infant gets sunburn, apply cold compresses to the affected area.

For Young Children

  • Apply sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside.
  • Use sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  • The SPF should be at least 15 and protect against UVA and UVB rays.

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 limit sun exposure during the peak intensity hours — between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF 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.

How do you plan to have fun in the sun this summer?

Art Contest for Kids

 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) invites children to enter a national art contest with a chance to win a trip to Washington, DC. The contest is open to boys and girls in three groups, grades 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12, and the theme is "Protecting Children from Tobacco Smoke.”
 
2009artcontestlogoaap.jpg

Group winners and their parents will be invited to a presentation ceremony at the 2009 AAP National Conference & Exhibition in Washington, DC, on Saturday, October 17. Each first-place winner will receive $500 and up to $1,000 for travel expenses. The three second-place winners will each receive $250. The winners’ schools will be awarded matching amounts. Winners will have their artwork featured on the AAP Web site and promotional materials.  

 
“There are still far too many young people who smoke and many pick up this deadly habit while they are at school,” warns AAP President David Tayloe, Jr, MD, FAAP. “This is an opportunity for children to exercise their creative side to alert other children – and parents — to the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke.”
 
This year’s contest is an initiative of the AAP’s Julius B. Richmond Center, supported by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute, and dedicated to the elimination of children’s exposure to tobacco and secondhand smoke.

To enter, children should submit an original piece of artwork to: National Art Contest, American Academy of Pediatrics, 141, Northwest Point Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, IL 60007. Rules, official entry forms and consent forms must accompany all entries and are available online. Entries must be postmarked by July 31, 2009. Winning entries will be selected by a panel of judges including pediatricians, and announced in the summer.
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

Are you and your kids excited that summer is almost here? What are you planning to do this summer?

Guard Against Sports Injuries

AAP banner.jpgIt’s that time of year again when the weather is getting warmer and kids are filling soccer fields and baseball diamonds for spring sports. Do you know how to prevent sports injuries in your kids? Here are some great tips brought to you by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Injury Risks
All sports have a risk of injury. In general, the more contact in a sport, the greater the risk of injury.

Most injuries occur to ligaments (connect bones together), tendons (connect muscles to bones) and muscles. Only about 5 percent of sports injuries involve broken bones. However, the areas where bones grow in children are at more risk of injury during the rapid phases of growth. In a growing child, point tenderness over a bone should be evaluated further by a medical provider even if minimal swelling or limitation in motion is appreciated.

Most frequent sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments) and strains (injuries to muscles), caused when an abnormal stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. As always, contact your pediatrician if you have additional questions or concerns.

To reduce injury:
•    Wear the right gear. Players should wear appropriate and properly fit protective equipment such as pads (neck, shoulder, elbow, chest, knee, shin), helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, and/or eyewear. Young athletes should not assume that protective gear will protect them from performing more dangerous or risky activities.
•    Strengthen muscles. Conditioning exercises before games and during practice strengthens muscles used in play.
•    Increase flexibility. Stretching exercises before and after games or practice can increase flexibility.
•    Use the proper technique. This should be reinforced during the playing season.
•    Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
•    Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and body checking (ice hockey) should be enforced.
•    Stop the activity if there is pain.
•    Avoid heat injury. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 pediatricians focused on the care of children. Check out their great Parenting Corner for the latest medical information for your child.

Are your kids playing a sport this spring?