Recently in the General Discussion Category
Recently Donna Broshek, Associate Director of the University of Virginia Health System's Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Institute, and I recorded a public service announcement about concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in children. During our shoot, I was able to talk with her about this important topic. One of the things I took away from that conversation is the importance of our role as parents in educating ourselves and our children about concussions.
Four Ways To Help Keep Your Child Safe
Bruised egos, broken bones and concussions are the biggest risks children face in sports--at an age and almost any sport. As parents we can lessen our safety concerns by becoming informed, engaged and in communication with our children, the schools and their coaches.
1) Educate yourself. Learn what a concussion is, its symptoms and what you can do to help your child or teen reduce the chances of a traumatic brain injury. For valuable resources see my first article, What Parents Need to Know About Concussions, Part 1.
2) Ask questions. Is your school system in compliance with the 2011 Virginia Student Athlete Protection Act? This bill established the Virginia Board of Education Guidelines For Policies on Concussions in Student-Athletes, requiring specific protocols for sports, protective gear and training.
Talk to the coach, school administration, league representative and anyone else who is involved in your child's sports. How knowledgeable are they about concussions? Ask to see a copy of the school or league's training manual for coaches and parent volunteers.
b) Check to see that helmets and equipment are up to date, in good repair and certified, if applicable.
c) Are athletes given any materials on safety, sportsmanship and injury? Are parents given materials on concussions?
3) Talk to your children. Talk about peer pressure and well-meaning adults who say, "tough it out" after an injury. Explain in age-appropriate language what a concussion is and the dangers from returning to play too quickly. Talk from a place of love and concern about why their physical health is more important than playing when injured. Talk about the long-term effects of concussions.
4) Get involved. Your level of involvement may depend on your child's age. High school football players aren't as comfortable with mom around as they were when they were children. There are ways to become a 'team parent'--from volunteering with fundraisers and parents' groups to sitting on advisory committees. Attend games and practices (for younger children), show your support for the team and get to know your child's coaches.Your involvement as the parent of a young athlete is vital--it shows you care about your child's participation and safety. And, should an accident occur you're right there and able to see what happened and to take an active role in your child's recovery from a concussion.
In my next article we'll talk about how to prepare your child to play team sports.
Parents' vigilance can head off kids' concussion risk (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/09/29/concussion-kids-cantu/1581173/)
The CDC Parent/ Athlete Concussion Information Sheet (http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/headsup/pdf/Parent_Athlete_Info_Sheet-a.pdf)
MomsTEAM.com (http://www.momsteam.com) - Helpful website for sports moms and dads.
Your role as a parent is to both protect and encourage your child in the world. It's a tough balance--you want your child to play sports and other recreational activities and you want them to be safe. By learning about concussions, the symptoms and how to prevent concussions, parents can help keep their kids safe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year over 207,000 children are treated in emergency departments for sports-related concussions and other TBIs. The highest occurrence is for youth between the ages of 5-18.
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Excessive shaking can cause a concussion. Even a seemingly mild bump or blow to the head can be cause for concern and require medical attention.
A concussion may last for a short time or it can produce symptoms that last for days or weeks. While symptoms may appear mild, in some cases the injury can result in significant, lasting impairments.
While these should not be considered the absolute indicators of a concussion, they are signs that your child should seek medical attention:
· Headache or neck pain
· Nausea or vomiting
· Ringing in ears
· Temporary loss of consciousness or forgetting the incident
For more complete details on symptoms and what you should do, see this info sheet from The Mayo Clinic. (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/concussion/DS00320/METHOD=print)
What To Do If You Think Your Child Has a Concussion
The first thing to do is call your child's physician. He or she will give you advice on whether to seek immediate medical treatment or to wait and observe your child for a day or two. Some symptoms may not appear immediately so you need to pay careful attention for a number of days after the injury.
Take notes--it's always helpful for doctors if you can provide a history of an accident. Was he hit in the head? Did she lose consciousness? For how long? Write down symptoms and any comments your child makes that may indicate signs of brain injury. For example, is your child confused about the day or time, or complaining of head pain or dizziness? The more information you can share with the doctor the better.
Try to keep your child calm during this initial period. Discourage too much physical movement and other strenuous or stressful events. Remember it's always better to call the doctor if you're concerned.
Some Statistics on Concussions
· Children from birth to 9 years of age are most often injured during playground activities or while riding a bike.
- The highest occurrences are in football and girl's soccer.
- Males represent 71.0% of all sports and recreation-related TBI visits to the emergency room.
- Children aged 10-19 years account for 70.5% of sports and recreation-related TBI visits to the emergency room.
- For males aged 10-19 years, sports and recreation-related TBIs occurred most often while playing football or bicycling.
- Females aged 10-19 years sustained sports and recreation-related TBIs most often while playing soccer or basketball or bicycling.
If your child falls off his bike, bumps her head or is injured in a soccer game, he or she could suffer a concussion. Concussions can be serious if left untreated. Seek medical attention and keep a close eye on your child for the next few days--the doctor will give you suggestions on what to look for and what to do in the following days and weeks.
It's important that you share information about the injury with teachers and coaches, if your child is in athletics, and ask them to help you watch for any potential signs of brain trauma.
And, as Donna Broshek advises in our PSA - when in doubt, sit them out.
In our next article we'll talk about what parents can do to help prevent concussions.
Helpful Resources for Parents:
Concussions- The Kids Health Blog (http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/aches/concussion.html# ) - Easy to read article describing concussions and the symptoms.
Concussion and Mild TBI (http://www.cdc.gov/Concussion/) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a wealth of resources on concussions.
Moms Team-Concussion Signs and Symptoms (http://www.momsteam.com/health-safety/concussion-signs-and-symptoms-physical-cognitive-emotional-sleep-related) Online source for youth sports parents.
Posted by Marianne Frederick
Every day throughout the United States, children arrive at emergency rooms for scald burn treatment. The major cause is contact with hot liquids, steam or hot foods. SafeKids USA says "90 percent of non-tap water scalds are caused during cooking or drinking hot liquids." According to Shriners Hospitals for Children, "approximately 65 percent of children under age 4 hospitalized for burn injuries were scalded by hot liquids and 20 percent of those for contact burns."www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/en/Education/BurnAwareness/HomeSafety.aspx
The majority of thermal burns to children under 14 years old are caused by contact with room heaters, ovens and ranges, clothing irons, gasoline, fireworks, hair curlers and curling irons. During the past 13 years, an average of 496 children each year died from unintentional fire or burn injury. According to the Shriners' "Be Burn Aware" 2013 campaign, approximately 66 percent of electrical burn injuries in children ages 12 and younger are associated with household electrical cords and extension cords; and wall electrical outlet burns account for an additional 14 percent of electrical burn injuries.
Here are some tips to help avoid scald injuries to children:
- Lower water heater temperature to 120˚F (49˚C) or less;
- When filling a bathtub, run cold water first, then add in warmer water;
- Before placing a child in a bathtub, check the water temperature by rapidly moving your hand through the water. If the water feels hot to an adult it is too hot for a child.
- In the bathtub, face your child away from faucets;
- Use knob covers on faucets; and
- Always supervise your child closely in the bathtub.
And, to keep kids safe in the kitchen:
- Always supervise children under age 7 using a microwave;
- Turn pot handles on the stove inward; use oven mitts and potholders;
- Make sure that micro waved food is thoroughly stirred before consuming;
- Do not use deep fryers around children;
- Do not hold children in your arms while cooking or passing hot food to others;
- Test your baby's food by placing one quarter spoonful on the underside of your wrist... if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for baby to safely swallow.
And, in case of a fire or burn emergency, Call 911 Immediately!
Since the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Ct, there's been a lot of debate about whether the country needs stricter gun control measures. Many people understandably have strongly held beliefs on this subject, but there's one aspect to this issue that we should all agree on - unsupervised children cannot be allowed to have access to guns. The statistics regarding kids and firearm deaths are staggering, but I'm not here to take a side in the gun control/gun rights battle - I just want to keep them out of the hands of unsupervised kids.
There is lots of web content on the internet about gun safety when it comes to children, and a great, comprehensive document I've found is by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. It's entitled simply Gun Safety, and, if you have kids or if you own guns, I highly recommend that you read it.
A few of its initial recommendations:
§ Unload and lock up guns
§ Lock and store ammunition separately
§ Hide keys where kids can't find them
§ Gun safe's are best, but gun locks/trigger locks can also be effective when used correctly.
These suggestions are pretty self evident, but the article also contains helpful suggestions for how to teach children the difference between reality and fantasy play, and also separate tips for parents who own guns and parents who don't. In my next posts, we'll talk further about those topics.
On January 30, a recall was issued for 300 Natart Chelsea Three-Drawer Children's Dressers Model 3033, by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in cooperation with the manufacturer, Gemme Juvenile, Inc., of Princeville, Quebec, Canada. The recall affects only 300 children's dressers and is due to a safety hazard. The hazard: The dresser can tip over and entrap a child.
In fact, one such dresser did tip over, entrap and suffocate a two-year old toddler from Barrington, Illinois. The child attempted to climb onto an open lower drawer in order to reach the second dresser drawer, which caused the dresser to tip over on the child. The recall notice says, "When the dresser drawers are pulled all the way out and then the additional weight of a young child is applied, the dresser's center of gravity can be altered and result in instability of the product [the dresser] and consequently tip over."http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2013/Natart-Chelsea-Dressers-Recalled-By-Gemme-Juvenile-To-Reduce-Tip-Over-Hazard-Death-of-Toddler-Reported/.
There are so many questions--and while any conscientious manufacturer would suffer from such an experience, I ask once again, why don't manufacturers know within a reasonable range what can happen before releasing their products to the children's furniture marketplace? Are children's furniture products no longer being tested for safety before being imported to the U.S.? This particular dresser, according to the CPSC notice of recall, was manufactured before the May 2009 voluntary industry standard was issued. So, one might ask why didn't the manufacturer recall the dressers when the voluntary industry standard changed?
This is a terrible reminder to parents of young children: Accidents with young children can happen very fast and toddlers should never be left alone. Young children need supervision.
The recalled children's dressers were sold at Furniture Kidz and juvenile specialty stores and on line by Baby.com from January 2005 to December 2010 for from $600 to $900. If you have one of these, immediately stop using the dresser and remove it from your children's access. Retrofit kits with wall anchor straps to keep the dresser from tipping are now being offered by the manufacturer for free, and consumers can contact the company by calling toll-free 1-855-364-2619 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
The CPSC would like everyone to know: "Every two weeks a child dies when a piece of furniture or a television falls on them." All TVs and furniture should be anchored to prevent tipping.
Winter temperatures have arrived all over the U.S. On the East Coast we are now in the teens and below-- and the flu "epidemic" is in full swing. Teachers are cautioning students to cough into their sleeves if they don't have a tissue. Appointments for some primary care providers can only be obtained two weeks out...we ask them to call if there are any cancellations.
Even though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definitely termed the flu an epidemic, health news correspondents continue to debate whether or not the flu has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. this year. Our entire household has had it even though we got our flu shots! Our doc says it would have been worse had we not received the flu shot. We are simply glad our bouts with it have subsided for now, and we hope that if the flu arrives at your household, you are able to manage it without too much distress. Here are a few more flu-wise precautions:
- When family members do get sick, remaining home from daycare, school, work and crowded gatherings, is key to not spreading the flu.
- Paying attention to kids' temps and whether or not their coughs are productive is important. If a child's fever seems too high or lasts too long, please call your primary care provider or take your child to the local Emergency Room ASAP.
- Watch and listen to children's coughs to make sure the bug doesn't progress to serious bronchitis or pneumonia. If their coughs are productive check the color of the mucus... clear is good... anything with a yellowish or greenish cast should get a physician's review.
- If your child is experiencing difficulty breathing or respiratory distress, call 911.
- Make sure to keep kids warm and hydrated when they are sick at home. If your child is experiencing repeated bouts of diarrhea with no let-up, call your primary care provider or take your child to the local Emergency Room. Children can become dehydrated quickly and that's dangerous!
- Keep track of how well children are eating--if they are not hungry, don't force them to eat. Lighter meals work better with upset tummies...clear broth, toast, gelatin, ginger ale, salted crackers are in order. It's probably best to refrain from spicy foods.
- If children are well and can go out to play, cover their heads with hats, facemasks or scarves, hands (with mittens or gloves) and feet (socks, shoes, boots) when they are headed out doors. This is not the time of year for little toes to walk barefooted--even indoors, vinyl, tile and hardwood floors can be cold.
- Monitor amount of play time kids spend outdoors--it's easy when they are bundled up and playing, for them to become overheated under bulky winter snow jackets, etc. Check periodically to make sure children's clothes and feet are dry and that there are no signs of frostbite on exposed skin. Layering their clothing will help keep them warm.
- Remember to keep emergency numbers by your telephone.
If the flu bug should arrive at your home, we sincerely hope your family's experience will be a mild one!
Posted by Marianne Frederick
At this time, 47 states in the continental
Parents and caregivers need to take this year's flu epidemic seriously. There are several types of flu: Influenza A has been typed in 79% of the specimens and seems to be the heavy hitter with two and possibly three different strains. Influenza B accounts for approximately 20% of the flu specimens which have been typed across the country for the first week of January. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/
If you and your children (older than 6 months old) have not gotten flu shots, there is still flu vaccine available. CDC says the current flu vaccine is at least 60 percent effective against the flu (CDC, January 11, 2013, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report). You can still get the flu even if you get the shot, but, in Dr. Farley's opinion, you may get a less virulent version. You still may be able to get the flu shot from your primary care physician, but you also may need to make a phone call or two to locate a source of the vaccine in your area if your primary care provider doesn't have it. It's still not too late to be vaccinated and to gain some protection against the flu.
With this year's flu, fever is usually present, chills are possible, along with headache and moderate-to-severe body aches and fatigue. Rapid onset of symptoms is characteristic of this year's flu with a 3-to-6 hour incubation period. It feels like a cold coming on, only stronger. Coughs are dry and unproductive, and sore throats are less common, according to the Associated Press ("Do You really Have Flu?", The Daily News Record, January 14, 2013, Associated Press,
Children are getting the flu in inordinate proportions, so parents need to watch out for symptoms and keep kids home from school if a fever is present! Sanjay Gupta, MD, (of CNN) recommends that parents also make sure to "Wash, wash, wash hands!", not just a cursory rinsing of little hands under water but rub them together with real soap, real water--not just hand-sanitizer for a good two minutes. Gupta says he sings the happy birthday song with his children twice while they are washing their hands, and devotes at least two full minutes to hand-washing each time!
This flu is a bad bug, so we hope those who follow ChildSafetyBlog.org take heed and pass on the precautions that could help keep you and your family from getting it.
Posted by Marianne Frederick
"Children don't need to be in a car to be hurt by one" is a phrase that has percolated in my mind over the past week. Where we live in Virginia, I see at least one young child in a car not buckled in a seatbelt or safely protected by a booster seat, perhaps once a week. I rarely, if ever, see young children turned around facing backward in the backseat. Often I want to say something to the drivers--in a thoughtful way--but offering free advice about a hot-button issue like seatbelts or booster seats can elicit a hostile response. So we will continue to raise the issue in ChildSafetyBlog. Here, we are probably as sensitive to this issue as many people who see young adult drivers texting or adults simply using their phone, while driving. Yet, in our view, parents who transport children by car without at least fastening seatbelts or protecting them in a booster seat are clearly not using their best judgment.
To be protected very young children should remain in a rear-facing car seat until they are at least 20 pounds in weight and a year old. Babies can be vulnerable to head and spine injuries in the case of a car crash, if their car seats are not rear facing. Some parents are concerned that their children may sustain leg injuries if their seats face backward, but thus far, there is no evidence of kids receiving leg injuries because their car seats were facing the back.
We were surprised to learn recently that many parents have actually given up booster seats for children between the ages 4 and 8--even though children can sustain serious injuries without booster seats. Booster seats are especially helpful because the child is raised to a height where the seat belt fits properly across lap and chest. Strapping children snugly in their seats is also a key to safety. If parents loosen the straps for any reason, they need to remember before they go on their way, to tighten them again. One more caution to parents and caregivers is to make sure when you send your child in someone else's car, that the driver has your child's booster seat to use for your child. You might even think about purchasing an extra, basic booster seat to use for this purpose.
Back to the earlier statement, kids don't need to be in cars to be hurt by them. Backing over children is still a terrible tragedy no parent or caregiver should ever experience. The statistics are shocking: Fatal backing accidents kill at least 228 people every year -- 110 of them are children under age 10 -- and injure 17,000. We have passed the end of 2012, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who pushed back the deadline to publish the new rules for car manufacturers, promised this would be done by the end of the year. The new rules would mandate new manufacturing requirements to improve the visibility behind passenger vehicles and help prevent fatal backing crashes. We want to know why this hasn't happened? The response of "added costs to the auto industry"-in light of their current profits--is no longer a viable excuse! So we say, "How about it, Ray? Let's get it done!"
Posted by Marianne Frederick
The old year is gone but not forgotten. Many poignant news stories remind us how important child safety is and how we are challenged as parents and caregivers to protect children at home, in school and at play. Our greatest wish is for everyone to have a healthy, happy, safe New Year 2013. Here are a few child safety reminders to help make your home safer:
1) Stay focused on your child. If your young child is at home, keep a close watch. Be on the same floor or in the same room if possible. Don't spend so much time connected to your devices that you forget your kids are there with you and need your attention, supervision and care.
2) Child proof your home. If you have young ones crawling, climbing and seeking to stand, put things they should not have high up (or lock them away). Cover the electrical sockets and lock the bathroom cabinets. Tablecloths with hot dishes can be pulled. TVs should be attached to the wall--not resting on a cabinet, as kids can pull them over when climbing.
3) Don't leave dangerous items that might look like edibles about. Children love to put things in their mouths. Carefully put away button or other small batteries, pills, beads, buttons, magnets, and sharps such as scissors, pins or sewing needles, and craft accessories (glitter, glue, glue sticks, glue guns) etc., after use.
4) Make sure to stow away household chemicals and cleaners after use-- especially ammonia, chlorinated cleansers, toilet bowl cleaners, bleach, and drain cleaners which can cause chemical burns, eye and respiratory irritations and worse. They need to be on a shelf high up in a lockable cabinet--where even the most curious climbers cannot get to them.
5) To minimize more than one household hazard, dispose of trash regularly. Take old newspapers, magazines and other periodicals to the local recycling area or dump. Dispose of any chemically soaked cleaning rags that can spontaneously combust.
6) Dress young children warmly for outdoor winter play, layering their clothing--but making sure clothing as well as shoes and boots, are not so tight that they cut off the circulation. Kids need to be warm and able to breathe well. Bring them in doors for a juice or snack break when you feel they've been out long enough.
7) Pay attention to your children's exposure to the sun. Playing out of doors is wonderful, but make sure their tender skin is not exposed to too much sun which may cause them skin problems in the future. Keep fresh sun block on hand for those noses, cheeks, ears, arms and hands--even in the winter.
Posted by Marianne Frederick
If you have been wondering about the safety of children's toys on the market this holiday season and whether certain toys are safer than others, there is an organization which has done some of the homework for you. The consumer watchdog, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), has examined the array of toys for sale this season, and is pleased to note that "toys today are safer than they've ever been before, [but] there are still dangerous and/or toxic toys on store shelves."http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/most-dangerous-toys-2012-173200226.htm.
The group's "Trouble in Toyland" report reviewed 200 toys purchased at toy retailers, such as Toys R Us and Target and dollar-type stores. The report issued shortly before Thanksgiving noted that there weren't as many toxic toys on the shelves as expected. Nasima Hossain, a public health advocate with PIRG recommends parents still watch for common hazards in toys when toy shopping. Common hazards in toys can be:
- Toys that contain sharps--anything that could cut, puncture or stick a child;
- Toys with small detachable parts that could pose a choking hazard;
- Toys that contain toxic chemicals, such as lead or phthalate levels higher than allowable limits;
- Toys that require heat or electricity and could pose a fire/burn hazard;
- Toys that explode or implode, or smoke--again, watch for a fire or inhalation hazards;
- Toys that shoot projectiles, such as the "Dart Zone Quick Fire 12 dart gun" which was identified as having a potential to produce eye injuries;
- Toys that could become unsafe for young children that might be safer for older children;
- Toys that contain high-powered magnets, sold as "Bucky Balls" or toys that contain button batteries that can be swallowed;
- Water absorbing toys that can expand if ingested, such as the Water Balz toys by Dunecraft (94,700 of these were recalled yesterday by the CPSC);
- Toys or child furniture that are flimsy or that appear not to be well put-together (and may collapse on a child, such as the toy wooden puppet stages recalled during the year); and
- Toys that are too loud and can be harmful to children's ears because they exceed the current noise standards.
The PIRG identified specific toys as containing hazards, including the Dora Backpack, by Global Design Concepts Inc., for its apparently high phthalate levels, and the Dora Tunes Guitar for its excessive loudness. Another toy, "Snake Eggs" made by GreenBrier International Inc. was found to be an ingestion hazard, and the Morphbot toy, also by GreenBrier, was identified as having high lead levels. The "Just Like Home 120-piece Super Play Food Sets" sold by Toys R Us, were identified as containing choking hazards for small children, as were the "Pullback Dragster Cars by Z Wind Ups" found to have choking hazards and warning labels too small to be easily read.
ChildSafetyBlog.org wishes you a safe and healthy holiday season!