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Let’s Swim!

It’s summer time, which means it’s swim time in Tennessee.  In East Tennessee, there are many opportunities to spend time in the water.  Seven lakes and several rivers in our area cover over 200,000 acres.  There are more than thirty competition swimming pools and hundreds of home and neighborhood pools in Knox and the surrounding counties. Whether spending time on the lake, rafting down a local river, or attending a friend’s pool party, children will be in and around water throughout their childhood. With all this exposure to water, children should learn how to swim. There are several local swim instructors that offer formal swim lessons, and children are never too old to learn. Swimming is an activity that can be enjoyed for a lifetime and that can help children be safer around the water.

This week’s unseasonably warm weather has likely whetted your appetite for more. In addition, for those of you with school-aged children, Spring Break is rapidly approaching. Some of you will travel to the beach. Some of you will enjoy a local “staycation.” Regardless,  you and your children will likely be spending more time outdoors. I want to remind all of you to stay safe. With that in mind, here are some helpful safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

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,..

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

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...

 

 

Little Ghosts and Ghouls – Beware!

All the kids are so excited
little ghosts and little ghouls
almost time for Halloween so
let’s review these safety rules:

1) Jack-o-lanterns, eyes so bright,
be sure to bring a new flashlight.

2) Reflective clothing kids should wear
or their parents they will scare.

3) No pants too long and masks should fit;
the candy corn is quite the hit.

4) Cinderella, Mickey Mouse
map your route while at your house.

5) On the sidewalk you should stay
and watch for cars that come your way.

6) Cross at the corner of the street;
wear comfy shoes to pad your feet.

7) Stop at the door, accept your treat;
inspect it first before you eat.

8) Hold daddy’s hand, avoid the strangers.
Princesses and Power Rangers.

9) Porch lights off then do not go!
Another thing that you should know.

10) Eat one piece and take a break.
You don’t want a tummy ache.

Ghosts and ghouls are getting tired
and the night is soon complete.
They settle down in sleep’s deep slumber
as they dream of “trick or treat”.