Posts for category: Safety
Kids may complain about being restrained in the car, but car seats and booster seats save lives. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that using a car or booster seat in a passenger car reduces the risk of fatal injury 71 percent in children younger than 1 and 54 percent in toddlers ages 1 to 4. The statistics are just as impressive for older kids.
What type of seat should I use for my child?
Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing seats until they reach the highest weight or height recommended by the manufacturer. In the past, children were routinely removed from rear-facing seats when they were 2, even if they didn't meet height or weight limits. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently changed their guidelines and now recommend that kids remain in the seats as long as possible.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers who have reached the maximum height or weight limits for rear-facing seats should use forward-facing car seats. Again, the seats should be used until the child reaches the maximum height and weight recommendations.
Once kids are too tall or heavy for car seats, they will transition to booster seats. Booster seats should be used until children are 4'9" tall and 8 to 12 years old. Older children can begin using seat belts at that point but should sit in the back seat when possible, particularly if they're younger than 13.
How can I tell if the car seat is installed correctly?
Both car and booster seats should be securely fashioned with a latch system or seat belt. If the seat moves back and forth freely, it's not installed correctly. Properly installed seats should move no more than an inch in any direction.
My child's legs seem too long for the car seat. What should I do?
You may wonder if your child should move up to the next seat or a booster seat if your child's feet touch the back of car seat. As long as your child is shorter than the maximum height for the seat, he or she should remain in the current seat.
Should my child use a secondhand car seat?
Passing a seat down to your next child can be a good idea if your children are only a few years apart in age. Before you reuse a seat for a younger child, make sure that it hasn't expired or been recalled since you bought it. Throw away car and booster seats after accidents, even minor ones. The seat may look perfectly fine but may be damaged internally.
Buying secondhand car seats online or at yard sales should be avoided. You won't necessarily know if the seat has been in an accident or if it has defective latches or restraints.
Using car seats consistently, whether you're going to the grocery store or taking a cross-country trip, can help your child avoid serious injuries due to traffic accidents. Talk to your child's pediatrician if you have questions about the seats.
By Nicole Hughes
We were never supposed to leave our beach vacation early to plan a funeral for our 3-year-old son. And, yet, within the course of one week, we had driven to the beach, returned without him, and held his funeral.
Do you know that drowning is the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4 and the second leading cause in ages 1-14? Do you know that 69% of children who drown are not expected to be swimming, yet they are found in water? Do you know that a child can drown in less than one minute?
Unfortunately, I know these facts all too well. On June 10, 2018, my three year old son, Levi, drowned while on vacation in Fort Morgan, AL.
There is a misconception that drowning only happens when you are swimming. But, drowning also happens when you are 200 feet away from a pool, upstairs, eating Cheetos, wearing your neon yellow crab-hunting shirt, when you leave your mom’s side, even though you are usually Velcro-ed to her. Drowning isn’t splashing and yelling. It is silent, and it takes SECONDS.
I have always taken water safety seriously. In each of the pictures I have of my son’s final day, he is wearing a life jacket. Flying a kite with his dad? Life jacket. Eating M&M’s in a beach chair? Life jacket.
How could I have known that every parent’s worst nightmare would be my reality? It happened so quickly. I don’t know how Levi got away from us as we were cleaning up from dinner, or what lured him to go outside alone. I was the one who found him, face down, in the deep end.
Just moments before this horrific discovery, I split a brownie with him. I still had the other half of the brownie in my mouth when I jumped into the pool to grab my son. Mere moments, seconds.
We had six physicians on our trip, including my own husband. If Levi could have been saved by desperation, skill, and love, he would still be here. Yet, how did I not fully realize just how quickly a child can drown? They initiated CPR immediately, even intubated him before the ambulance arrived. But Levi could not be saved, even with this immediate response.
In the days after we lost Levi, when we were forced to stumble forward without our baby boy, I started researching. I am (was?) on my third journey of parenting a child in the 1-4 age group. Why did I not know that drowning is the leading cause of death? Of course, I knew drowning was a potential danger. We utilized life jackets, swim lessons, supervision while swimming. But why did I not know about the dangers of drowning during NON-SWIMMING times? How did I not know it took less than one minute?
Why is my mom-brain filled with internal debates about screen time, organic fruit, and sunscreen free of oxybenzone? I still cut my 9-year-old’s grapes. I buy DHA milk. I worry that the hours of YouTube my kids watch will prevent them from being functioning adults one day. These are the topics that are pushed in my direction, the worries that I have grasped onto as I navigate parenting. Well, the unfortunate irony here is that I had taken the iPhone away from my son not too long before he slipped away from us. I sure wish I had cared a little less about screen time that night.
The more I researched, the angrier I became. Oh, and I had to search. Why are discussions about drowning almost an afterthought? Background noise? This is a LEADING cause of death, and it is 100% PREVENTABLE. Yes, there are news stories, but we have become numb to these “don’t forget to watch your kids while swimming” factual articles that are regurgitated each year and the faded “no lifeguard on duty” signs stuck on a wall by a pool.
The harsh reality is that Levi’s death rests on me. These are the hardest words I will ever have to admit, but the truth is that I failed my son, failed to keep him safe. Yes, this accident happened in moments. But, the fact that I have to live with for the rest of my life is that losing Levi was preventable. I am not trying to push blame off of my shoulders. But, I sure wish I had known these statistics before June 10.
For the last month, I have fueled my grief and anger into action. Based on the research on drowning, I have created a non-profit called Levi’s Legacy. My mission is to eradicate drowning completely. You can read more about my mission (and about designated supervision) at www.levislegacy.com.
So, here I am, a grieving mother facing a future I would never have imagined. Lying in bed and sobbing will not bring him back (oh, but if it would). I don’t want this role of water-safety advocate. I want 30 seconds back on June 10. But I am determined to share these facts I so desperately wish I had known. Levi’s message has already spread, but now, it’s time to take the next step, and it is a big one.
American Academy of Pediatrics, I am asking for your help. We need you. I say this as someone who is married to a physician and who respects my own pediatrician very much. But, thousands of people have reached out to me over the last month sharing the same comment each time: “I had no idea. Why didn’t I know any of this about drowning?”
I am well aware how much a pediatrician has to cover during a well-child visit: build a relationship, answer questions, prepare for milestones, look into the ears of a squirming child. Pediatricians have thousands of topics they must be knowledgeable of and share with parents. Therefore, American Academy of Pediatrics, you play a major role in setting priorities and equipping your pediatricians with the resources they need in order to inform parents and help eliminate this preventable tragedy. Parents of young children, especially in the age range of 1-4, should be given a handout that clearly explains the statistics on drowning. On the questionnaire, when I fill out it if my child can hold a crayon, hop on one foot, or sleep through the night, there needs to be a section on water safety. American Academy of Pediatrics, you have the platform and power to reach millions. Please, please join this cause.
The AAP has a website for parents (http://www.healthychildren.org/); on July 11, 2018, in the middle of summer, do you know how many times “drowning” was displayed on the homepage? Zero. When I searched “drowning,” I found a list of 17 total items, with articles from 2017 and 2014 being at the top. These articles include information that is so dull that nobody will read it (assuming anyone searches). They include information on how to tell if your child is drowning, such as: “eyes closed / not using legs/ appearing to be climbing an invisible ladder.” Not only is this a waste of words (is a parent seriously going to go through this mental checklist before saving a child?), but it just reinforces to people the incorrect assumption that drowning means splashing and yelling.
A 3-year-old can drown in less than one minute: silently and without a struggle. The articles also fail to mention how often (the majority of times) drowning happens when not swimming. I am like any other mom: winging it, doing my best, and depending on parenting guidance from pediatricians and parenting articles. How else am I supposed to know what I am doing? Drowning needs to be addressed with as much concern as newborns sleeping on their backs to sleep, vaccinations, and car seat safety. Drowning is just as deadly and just as preventable. Drowning is a leading cause of death in children, and it needs to be treated as such. Can we please start talking about it?
I want to make it clear that hundreds of pediatricians and other medical professionals have reached out to me about Levi’s story. I am encouraged, humbled, and touched by how many of these influential people are already advocating for water safety and want to continue to be part of this solution. Thank you. I hope to get the same response from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
I used to be the parent who would read a story like this one and immediately start scanning, looking for a loophole, desperate for the detail that would exempt me from this particular nightmare ever being mine. But, it turns out, tragedy does not play fair. My son is gone. And, yet, we are choosing to live a purposeful life in the midst of this ultimate despair.
We have two daughters, Levi’s older sisters, whom he adored, and we cannot let them lose us, too. This pain is unimaginable, but every second is a CHOICE. I am choosing to breathe, choosing to advocate. The pain and darkness threaten to suffocate. But when I choose to turn on the light, I see goodness. People are hearing Levi’s message, questioning why they didn’t know the truth about drowning, taking action.
We have a chance to change the future, to save sons and daughters, grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Trust me, I never imagined myself in the role of water-safety advocate until I was thrust into it by my grief. Drowning is a leading cause of death and is 100% preventable. We can do better. We can fix this for our children.
For more information on children and heat also check here: healthychildren.org
Picture this scenario: It’s a hot, sunny summer day. You are taking a nice, relaxing stroll outside with your baby in a stroller. The sun feels hot on your skin so you correctly deduce (she doesn’t yet speak, so she can’t tell you) that your infant is feeling the heat as well. You decide to cover the stroller with a blanket to produce instant shade (which will also protect her from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays) but in the process, says Wendy Wisner, create a new and dangerous problem:
You see, by placing a blanket – even a light one, like a muslin cloth – over the stroller, you are actually locking heat in, rather than keeping it out. And it turns out that the temperature that the inside of your baby’s stroller could rise to is potentially very dangerous – even deadly.
Infants and young children are more vulnerable to the effects of heat than older kids and adults. Their immature body systems don’t regulate their internal temperature particularly well and they may not be able to communicate how they are feeling. As a result, infants and young children are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Since infants haven’t yet developed the ability to sweat and effectively regulate their body temperature, parents need to be on the lookout for subtler signs like excess sleepiness, malaise, irritability, and excessive thirst. Looking pale while feeling hot, rapid breathing, vomiting, and not producing urine for several hours are very concerning signs suggesting excessive exposure to heat.
There are a number of precautions parents can take on those hot summer days to protect the stroller’s precious cargo:
— Use a different sun shield: Instead of a blanket, use a large canopy or mesh sun shield designed for strollers. This will produce shade while ensuring adequate airflow.
— Dress lightly: One layer of loose-fitting, light-colored, and lightweight clothing should do.
— Stay hydrated: Infants should feed from the breast or bottle more frequently; toddlers should be offered water frequently. On hot days, don’t wait for children to ask for something to drink.
— Avoid peak heat hours: The hottest daylight hours in temperate climates are typically between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Stay in the shade during those hours and try to avoid being outdoors altogether on especially hot days or during heat waves. Instead, find a cool space indoors and camp out there.
— Check on your baby often: Make sure they are being adequately shaded, kept cool, and acting happy in their stroller.
Car seat carriers also present similar heat risks as strollers, so be sure that remains a cool spot on a hot day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more tips to protect children from extreme heat here.
Your child's sports injury can be treated just as your injury was. Or, can it? Your pediatrician knows that a child's body is still developing, responding differently to acute and overuse injuries from organized sports, gym class, and more. As such, he or she can help your child avoid injury and in the event of sprain, strain, laceration, dislocation, or head injury, will help your youngster recover and stay healthy.
Kids sports injuries
They're very common, says the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. Annually, 3.5 million American children under the age of 14 suffer significant sports injuries. Some injuries are related to poor conditioning. Others occur because of inadequate instruction or proper protective gear such as padding, eye wear, sneakers, dance shoes, skates, and cleats.
In addition, diligent supervision on the part of parents, coaches, teachers, and other well-informed adults is critical to safe play. Well-maintained game fields and indoor surfaces avoid foot, ankle, and knee injuries.
Finally, KidsHealth reports that Pre-participation Physicals review medical histories and spot possible weaknesses in children's physiology and anatomy. Most school and organized sports teams require these check-ups either with the school physician or the family pediatrician before the sports season commences.
Treating sports injuries
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that proper assessment and prompt treatment of kids' sports injuries prevent long-term problems, including pain and proper growth of areas of the body such as the long bones. Traditionally, coaches and parents have used the RICE protocol to stabilize and injury, relieve pain, and begin the healing process. It still works exceptionally well. RICE stands for:
- Ice to the affected area
- Compression with an elastic bandage
- Elevation of the affected limb/injured area above heart level
Then, your pediatrician and other health care providers can devise a specific treatment plan to include physical therapy, strengthening exercises, over the counter analgesics, braces, and casts as needed. As a parent, you know your child well. So be sure to fully participate in your youngster's care plan.
Be safe, be well
Each child responds differently to athletic training depending on his or her gender, size, age, physical conditioning, underlying health issue,s and natural ability. You and your pediatrician can partner together in encouraging a safe sports season for your child. That's a win-win situation.
Whether it’s at the park, school or in your own backyard, kids of all ages enjoy climbing on the monkey bars, going down the slide and swinging. Playgrounds are a great place for kids to exercise, take in fresh air and socialize with friends. Unfortunately, it’s also a place many kids get injured every year as a result of faulty equipment and improper use. In fact, each year more than 200,000 kids under the age of 15 are treated in hospital emergency rooms for playground-related injuries.
While there are some inevitable dangers, the good news is that many of these injuries can easily be prevented with proper supervision. Do you know what to look for to make sure your playground is safe?
Play it Safe: What to Look for at Your Playground
Risks linked with playground safety may not be as apparent as those associated with swimming or biking; you just have to know what to look for. You can make the playground safe and fun for your kids by checking equipment and surfacing for potential hazards and following some simple safety guidelines. These include:
- Always supervise your child to ensure playground equipment is used properly.
- Regularly check playground equipment for loose, sharp or broken parts.
- Know which surfacing is most appropriate. Sand, wood chips and rubberized matting are the safest surfaces for playgrounds, while concrete or asphalt could lead to a serious injury if a child falls.
- Make sure playground equipment is age and size appropriate for your child.
- Minimize injuries by teaching your kids basic playground rules.
- Play areas for younger children should be separated from those for older kids.
- Don’t let children wear drawstrings, purses, necklaces or other items that could get caught on equipment.
- Report dangerous playgrounds to responsible parties.
- Ask your pediatrician about other tips for playground safety.
Don’t let careless behavior or a faulty apparatus ruin playground fun. To minimize injuries, always be on the lookout for faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behavior. Play is an essential part of a child’s physical, social, intellectual, and emotional development. Following these playground safety tips will help your kids play as safely as possible.