Advice on Lawnmower Safety

Well, it’s only the first week in April, and my grass has been mowed three times already due to the warm weather and abundance of rain this year. Lawn mowing is such a mundane and routine task that we seldom stop to think about what we are doing, unless it’s to think about how hot it is, how thirsty we are, how our muscles are aching and how much longer until the job is done. What we are probably NOT thinking about is the degree of danger we are subjecting ourselves to, as well as our family members and neighbors and pets, if they are outside while the mowing is taking place. Several years ago, one of my daughters was mowing her grass and found a hidden rock with the lawnmower blade. The rock was hurled across the yard and through the back window of her car, shattering the glass. Fortunately, there were no children, pets, or neighbors nearby, so no injuries occurred. This is a good reminder about the power and danger of a lawnmower. If you stop and think about it, you’re operating a machine with five or six horsepower (or more) turning a heavy steel blade at 3000 RPM that is just inches away from your feet and legs (and hands and fingers if you dare). Is it any wonder people get hurt? And it’s not just a few people, it’s thousands every year. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 9,300 young people (age 20 or under) are injured every year by lawnmowers, and one-third of these injuries are in children under the age of 12 years. The injuries range from lacerations, broken bones, amputations and a multitude of injuries suffered as a result of projectiles thrown from lawnmowers.

Lawnmowers have been a source of concern for safety advocates. In 2001, the American Academy of Pediatrics established guidelines for safe lawn mowing…

In spite of these suggestions, the incidence of lawnmower injuries has not declined in the years 2004 to 2013.  Follow this link to read an interesting update on lawn mower safety,..

The Farm

When I sought advice for this blog post I was encouraged to write about something I love. Coincidentally, the next day I headed nine hours north on route 81 to the place I love most, my childhood home. Recently, my mom needed help after surgery. I packed my husband and 3 kids in the car and headed to our 100 acre family farm in Northern Virginia. When I pulled into the long dirt and gravel driveway, where I learned to ride a bike nearly 30 years ago, I breathed an audible sigh of relief. I’m home.

Simple pleasures abound on the farm. Every morning we traipse down to the barn to feed the cattle and chickens with my dad. My girls proudly collect eggs in my father’s hat and share their henbit with the hens (chickens love to eat the purple weed). Breakfast is coffee on the front porch overlooking the farm while munching on toast with homemade bread, grape jelly made from our grapes, and deep yellow scrambled eggs from my father’s hens. My daughters pick daffodils and henbit in the yard to make bouquets for Grandma. Later, they fly kites and jump between large round bales of hay in the front field. Every afternoon the girls’ child – sized fishing poles are bowed in half from weighty bass or blue gill hooked in the farm pond.

I’d rather be on the farm than anywhere. I love this place. It reminds me that simple pleasures are the best. It’s good for my soul. The little girl with the ruby red slippers had it right, there’s no place like home.

Image result for henbit

Henbit

Little League Elbow and Swimmer’s Shoulder and Runner’s Knee, Oh My!

As my children have started to enjoy playing more sports, I realize how competitive sports have become at an earlier age. This is a nationwide trend that is causing those of us in the pediatric world to see more overuse injuries than ever before. What is an overuse injury? An overuse injury is damage to a bone, muscle, ligament or tendon due to repetitive stress without allowing time for the body to heal. Attached is a link from the AAP that gives insight into how best to protect our kids. As always, if you have questions or concerns about overuse injuries, please call you pediatrician’s office.

For more information

 

And Away We Go!

The warmer than average “winter” weather has reminded me that Spring Break is rapidly approaching. Many of us will be taking that time off to rest, to recharge our batteries, and to spend valuable time with our families and loved ones. And many of us will pack our bags, load our cars, and head to our chosen vacation spots.  If you are traveling over Spring Break, or anytime this year, I hope that you arrive at your vacation spot safely. To help you and your family stay safe while traveling, I have posted some practical travel safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

TRAVEL TIPS

Traveling with children can be a delight and a challenge. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has the following tips for safe and stress-free family travel.

Traveling by Airplane

  • Allow your family extra time to get through security – especially when traveling with younger children.
  • Have children wear shoes and outer layers of clothing that are easy to take off for security screening. Children younger than 12 years are not required to remove their shoes for routine screening.
  • Strollers can be brought through airport security and gate-checked to make travel with small children easier.
  • ​Talk with your children about the security screening process before coming to the airport. Let them know that bags (backpack, dolls, etc.) must be put in the X‑ray machine and will come out the other end and be returned to them.
  • Discuss the fact that it’s against the law to make threats such as; “I have a bomb in my bag.” Threats made jokingly (even by a child) can delay the entire family and could result in fines.
  • Arrange to have a car safety seat at your destination or bring your own along. Airlines will typically allow families to bring a child’s car safety seat as an extra luggage item with no additional luggage expense. Check the airline’s Web site ahead of time so you know their policy before you arrive at the airport
  • When traveling on an airplane, a child is best protected when properly restrained in a car safety seat appropriate for the age, weight and height of the child. Children who weigh more than 40lbs can use the aircraft seat belt. The car safety seat should have a label noting that it is FAA-approved. Belt-positioning booster seats cannot be used on airplanes, but they can be checked as luggage (usually without baggage fees) for use in rental cars and taxis.
  • Although the FAA allows children under age 2 to be held on an adult’s lap, the AAP recommends that families explore options to ensure that each child has her own seat. If it is not feasible to purchase a ticket for a small child, try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats where your child could ride buckled in her car safety seat.
  • Pack a bag of toys and snacks to keep your child occupied during the flight.
  • In order to decrease ear pain during descent, encourage your infant to nurse or suck on a bottle. Older children can try chewing gum or drinking liquids with a straw.
  • Wash hands frequently, and consider bringing hand-washing gel and disinfectant wipes to prevent illnesses during travel.
  • Consult your pediatrician before flying with a newborn or infant who has chronic heart or lung problems or with upper or lower respiratory symptoms.
  • Consult your pediatrician if flying within 2 weeks of an episode of an ear infection or ear surgery.

International Travel 

  • If traveling internationally, check with your doctor to see if your child might need additional vaccines or preventive medications, and make sure your child is up-to-date on routine vaccinations. Bring mosquito protection in countries where mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria are present.
  • In order to reduce jet lag, adjust your child’s sleep schedule 2-3 days before departure. After arrival, children should be encouraged to be active outside or in brightly lit areas during daylight hours to promote adjustment.
  • Stay within arm’s reach of children while swimming, as pools may not have safe, modern drain systems and both pools and beaches may lack lifeguards.
  • Ensure that your child wears a life jacket when on smaller boats, and set an example by wearing your life jacket.
  • Conditions at hotels and other lodging may not be as safe as those in the U.S. Carefully inspect for exposed wiring, pest poisons, paint chips, or inadequate stairway or balcony railings.
  • When traveling, be aware that cribs or play yards provided by hotels may not meet current safety standards. If you have any doubt about the safety of the crib or play yard, ask for a replacement or consider other options. (Also applies to travel in the U.S.)

Traveling by Car 

  • Road travel can be extremely hazardous in developing countries. Make sure each passenger is buckled and that children use the appropriate car safety seat. Let your driver know you are not in a hurry, ask that there be no cell phone use, and emphasize that you will reward safe driving.
  • Always use a car safety seat for infants and young children. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by the car safety seat manufacturer. Once your child has outgrown the rear-facing height or weight limit, she should ride in a forward-facing car safety seat. Updated recommendations on safe travel can be found on the AAP parenting web site: www.healthychildren.org/carseatguide.
  • Most rental car companies can arrange for a car safety seat if you are unable to bring yours along. However, they may have a limited selection of seats. Check that the seat they provide is appropriate for the size and age of your child, that it appears to be in good condition, and that the instruction manual is provided before accepting it.
  • A child who has outgrown her car safety seat with a harness (she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat) should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age).
  • All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
  • Never place a rear-facing car safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle that has an airbag.
  • Set a good example by always wearing a seat belt, even in a taxi.
  • Children often become restless or irritable when on a long road trip. Keep them occupied by pointing out interesting sights along the way and by bringing soft, lightweight toys and favorite music for a sing-along.
  • Plan to stop driving and give yourself and your child a break about every two hours.
  • Never leave your child alone in a car, even for a minute. Temperatures inside the car can reach deadly levels in minutes, and the child can die of heat stroke.
  • In addition to a travelers’ health kit (http://www.cdc.gov/travel/other/travelers-health-kit.htm), parents should carry safe water and snacks, child-safe hand wipes, diaper rash ointment, and a water- and insect-proof ground sheet for safe play outside.

Sources:

AAP policy statement: Child Passenger Safety

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/4/788.full​​

AAP technical report: Child Passenger Safety http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/127/4/e1050.full​​

Federal Aviation Administration http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/crs/

Centers for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/travel/children_gen_info.htm

AAP: Car Safety Seats, A Guide for Families

http://www.healthychildren.org/carseatguide

BOO to the Flu!

Well, it’s here, no doubt about it. The dreaded FLU! All around Knoxville and surrounding counties, schools are closing due to illness in both the students and the teachers. Here is a little information on the facts of the flu…

  • Influenza (“the flu”) is a VIRAL illness.
  • Symptoms may include: fever, cough, headache and or body aches, sore throat, runny nose, congestion, redness and watering of the eyes, and occasional vomiting and abdominal pain.
  • Influenza IS NOT “ the stomach bug” … although many kids’ first sign is vomiting.
  • The flu can be contagious for up to 1 – 2 DAYS BEFORE SYMPTOMS START and for several days after the onset of symptoms.
  • Prevention from the flu includes receiving a yearly flu vaccine, hand washing and avoiding contact when possible with those infected with the flu.
  • The flu is spread from person to person thru contact with respiratory secretions. It can also be spread by coming in contact with those secretions on objects.
  • There is a test to determine if you have the flu. This test is done thru a nasal swab and usually can be done in the outpatient office within 10 minutes. A flu test is not always required as a doctor may determine the diagnosis by physical exam.
  • Most people with the flu have a mild self-limited, uncomplicated disease. Treatment would include rest, lots of fluids and tylenol or ibuprofen for fever or aches.
  • Certain groups of people may be at risk for more serious complications. This group includes those that have a weakened immune system, have chronic lung disease, those that have diabetes, possibly those with a neurological problems, and the very young.
  • Some children with the flu may be prescribed an antiviral called tamiflu. It does NOT treat the flu and is not required . It may shorten the duration of symptoms. It should be started within 48 hours of the onset of the illness.
  • We typically do not give “prevention” from the flu thru tamiflu unless the child is in at “at risk” population.
  • If your child has the flu and has: worsening fever or pain, lethargy, unable to keep fluids down or if you have any concern, please call your pediatrician for further evaluation.

 

Music and Mood

Winter can be a hard time of year for many people.  The days are shorter and the weather may keep us indoors more often.  One helpful thing to remember when trying to make it through a dreary cold and flu season is the fact that music can be beneficial to our mental health.  Take a look at this short article from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Music’s beneficial effects on mental health have been known for thousands of years. Ancient philosophers from Plato to Confucius and the kings of Israel sang the praises of music and used it to help soothe stress. Military bands use music to build confidence and courage. Sporting events provide music to rouse enthusiasm. Schoolchildren use music to memorize their ABCs. Shopping malls play music to entice consumers and keep them in the store. Dentists play music to help calm nervous patients. Modern research supports conventional wisdom that music benefits mood and confidence.

Because of our unique experiences, we develop different musical tastes and preferences. Despite these differences, there are some common responses to music. Babies love lullabies. Maternal singing is particularly soothing, regardless of a mom’s formal musical talents or training. Certain kinds of music make almost everyone feel worse, even when someone says she enjoys it; in a study of 144 adults and teenagers who listened to 4 different kinds of music, grunge music led to significant increases in hostility, sadness, tension, and fatigue across the entire group, even in the teenagers who said they liked it. In another study, college students reported that pop, rock, oldies, and classical music helped them feel happier and more optimistic, friendly, relaxed, and calm.

Continue reading…

Sleep Recommendations Update for Infants, Children, and Adolescents:

 

1.  American Academy of Pediatrics SmartBrief;  June 13, 2016:

“The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends daily sleep of 12 to 16 hours for 4 month-olds to 1 year-olds, 11 to 14 hours for 1 to 2 year-olds, 10 to 13 hours for 3 to 5 year olds, 9 to 12 hours  for 6 to 12 year-olds and 8 to 10 hours for 12 to 18 year-olds.  The guidelines in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, indicate lack of sleep may heighten the risk of injuries, depression, hypertension, and obesity among children and suicidal thoughts or self-harm among adolescents, while regular excess sleep may raise risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and mental health problems.”

2. The American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS);  November 2016:

Recommendations for infants up to 1 year of age:

  • Infants should be placed on their backs for sleep.
  • Infants should sleep on a firm surface.
  • Breast-feeding is recommended, as it is associated with reduced risk for SIDS.
  • Infants should sleep in the same room with parents – but not in the same bed – until at least 6 months of age.
  • Avoid bed sharing for infants less than 4 months of age, premature infants, and infants born small for gestational age.
  • Avoid bed sharing with current smokers, mothers who smoked during pregnancy, and anyone whose alertness is impaired.
  • Do not have soft objects or loose bedding in the sleep area.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap or bedtime.
  • Avoid overheating and head covering during sleep.
  • Avoid exposure to smoke, alcohol, and drugs during pregnancy.
  • Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors or other medical devices marketed to avoid SIDS.

If you have any questions concerning these recommendations, please discuss them with your child’s pediatrician.

 

Media and Violence

On average, children 8 years of age and older watch greater than 2 hours of TV a day and at least 6 hours per day when all types of media are included (e.g., movies, videos, gaming, social media, etc.) (1) Even children’s programming is quite violent with cartoons showing 25 – 50 violent acts per hour (2,3). There is a positive correlation between the viewing of violence in media and the behavior of the viewers (4 – 9).  

What can we do as parents to stem the tide? 

1.  Limit children’s total media time to less than 1 to 2 hours a day.  I would suggest even less especially on school nights!

2. Remove TV sets and computers from children’s bedrooms and do not allow them to sleep with other devices such as phones.

3. Discourage  television and screen media use (except for video chatting) for children younger than 18 months.

4. Monitor the shows viewed and games played by children and adolescents.

5. View media with your children and discuss the content.

6. Play digital games with your children to better understand them.

7. Encourage alternative entertainment (Reading, athletics, hobbies, etc.)

8. Use parental controls to block unauthorized viewing.

These are simple steps to help your child get along better with others and resolve conflicts without violence.  The American Academy of Pediatrics also provides tips and resources to develop a “Family Media Plan,” which you can find online. 

1, 2.  Rideout VJ. The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/the-common-sense-census-media-use-by-tweens-and-teens (Accessed on November 01, 2016). 

3. Dietz WH, Strasburger VC. Children, adolescents, and television. Curr Probl Pediatr 1991; 21:8. 

4. Yokota F, Thompson KM. Violence in G-rated animated films. JAMA 2000; 283:2716.

5. Sege R, Dietz W. Television viewing and violence in children: the pediatrician as agent for change. Pediatrics 1994; 94:600.

6. Council on Communications and Media. Media use in school-aged children and adolescents. Pediatrics 2016.

7. American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Public Education. American Academy of Pediatrics: Children, adolescents, and television. Pediatrics 2001; 107:423.

8. Caring for your baby and young child: Birth to age 5, Shelov SP, Hannemann RE (Eds), Bantam, New York 1991.

9. Council on Communications and Media. From the American Academy of Pediatrics: Policy statement–Media violence. Pediatrics 2009; 124:1495.

 This information was obtained from http://www.uptodate.com a website which provides current information for physicians.

 

A Few Words…and Tips on Fire Prevention and Safety

We remain stunned by the loss and devastation wrought by wild fires so recently in East Tennessee. Whether directly or indirectly, these fires have affected us all.  I still can’t fathom the horror encountered by those attempting to escape the sudden, onrushing flames, and the sadness felt for those unfortunate enough not to escape. These fires have been a tragic event. As always, though, such tragedies also highlight the strength and resilience of so many in our communities: the bravery of the firefighters and emergency personnel and the outpouring of donations and volunteers continue to inspire.   It is both sad and wonderful that such a terrible event brings out the best in us.

As these fires pass, I suspect you – and even your children – have talked more about fire prevention and fire safety. In addition, as we enter the winter months, the risk of home fires increases.  Consequently, I thought it might be timely to pass along some tips and reminders about home fire safety for parents.

Prevention and monitoring are the first steps. Educating our children on fire risks is crucial. Monitoring with smoke and carbon dioxide detectors can save lives. (Remember to change batteries every 6 to 12 months on smoke detectors.) Developing a fire evacuation plan in your home with a central meeting place can help avert the confusion and panic that occurs when fire strikes our home.

Here are several websites information on fire safety. The first two are intended for parents, and the final three are more interactive for children.

1) This is a helpful website with numerous safety tip sheets on a wid variety of issues on fires safety.

http://www.nfpa.org/public-education/resources/safety-tip-sheets

2) This website also has safety tip sheets.

http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire

3) This is a YouTube video with animation and music to help educate on fire safety.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiIGMWRKfQI&t=101s

4) This website has fire education with coloring sheets and games.

http://firesafekids.org/science.html

5) This is a website with videos and music to help educate children of various ages

http://sparkyschoolhouse.org/ – video-modal

 

 

Cold Weather Safety

 

With winter approaching, here are some cold weather safety tips.  Dressing children and infants in several thin layers is best. Dress them in one more layer than an adult would wear in the same conditions, and make sure to provide a hat, gloves. and warm boots. When playing outside, have children come back inside periodically to warm up. Blankets, quilts, and pillows should be kept away from an infant’s sleeping environment due to the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Sleep clothing like one-piece sleepers are preferable. For more tips and information...