Archive for the 'Safety' Category

Teaching kids why cars are not playgrounds

child sitting in driver's seat

Even if you live in a safe neighborhood, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of locking your unoccupied vehicle. Sadly there are, on average, 37 child deaths per year due to vehicular hyperthermia. The majority of the children who die in hot cars are accidentally forgotten; however, it is estimated that up to 30 percent of the time children are trapped inside an unlocked vehicle or trunk and they are unable to escape. Here are some tips to avoiding tragedy in your driveway:

  1. Always lock vehicle doors. Even if you don’t have young children, an open car creates opportunity for neighborhood kids to become trapped.
  2. Teach kids not to play in cars or trunks. The child locks on rear doors often prevent children from getting out, essentially trapping the child in the vehicle once they enter.
  3. Show your kids the emergency trunk release and instruct them how to use it. As of Sept. 1, 2001, all vehicles are required to have a glow-in-the-dark trunk release mechanism.
  4. Never leave children unattended in a vehicle. Watch this short video to see how temperatures can increase in a vehicle 19 degrees in just 10 minutes.
  5. If a child goes missing, we advise checking pools and nearby bodies of water first then vehicles and trunks second.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health

References:

Covert mission: How I sneaked a bike safety talk into a regular old bike ride

mom and daughter selfie wearing bike helmets

I tricked my 8-year-old daughter, Meadow, into learning bicycle safety yesterday. She thought she was going with me on her first bike ride outside of the neighborhood, but I had ulterior motives.

First, I showed her how we check our bicycles before riding for any potential necessary repair. We looked to make sure there wasn’t a loose or rusty chain, measured for proper seat and handlebar height, and checked the tire pressure.

We always wear our helmets, so we made sure they fit properly. (Side note: When we got home, I noticed my daughter’s “Y strap” had loosened up on her helmet and she had tucked it behind her ear. I reminded her how the helmet straps should lay for next time.) Helmets on and bike integrity checked, we changed out of our flip-flops and put on proper fitting tennis shoes and socks. Meadow cringed when I told her how my friend’s son had to get several stitches in the bottom of his foot from wearing flip-flops on his bike. Believe it or not, your feet can get really sweaty when you exercise and those suckers slip right off.

Ready to ride, we talked along the way about the importance of using your senses to look for danger:

  • Don’t let yourself get distracted by using your electronics.
  • Keep earbuds out so you can hear for sirens and cars.
  • Watch for the reverse lights in driveways for cars exiting.

When it came time to cross the street, we used designated cross walks, first looking left, right and then left again. I made sure Meadow saw how to make eye contact with cars at the intersection so they see us as we walk our bikes across the street.

We didn’t encounter any pedestrians, but we did a test run on how to alert them that we were approaching. Meadow rang her bell and yelled, “Passing on your left,” out loud.

Halfway through the ride, we took a quick break and I asked her what she would do if I had an emergency. She happily replied that she would call 911 on my cell phone to get help. I further questioned her how she would let them know our location and we did a scavenger hunt for notable landmarks and street signs. I pretended to be the dispatcher and we went over potential questions, such as my name, medical history, allergies and my husband’s phone number.

When we made it to our final destination, Meadow was surprised that we were at 7-11; she got a Slurpee for her reward. One last lesson was about visibility—she turned on her blinking head and tail lights since it was close to dusk.

The ride home was much quieter; we got to enjoy our mother/daughter time together and the beautiful views of our city.

For information on safe biking, check out these resources:

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health

Kids and lead exposure

close up of little hand holding toy car

Unaltered image. Patrik Nygren, Flickr. CC license.

“There is no safe level of exposure to lead for a child.” This is the mantra that Ecology Center staff, parents and others carried to Lansing on March 8, 2017. About 60 environmental advocates, public health professionals, lead-abatement contractors, and other citizen-lobbyists braved gale-force winds for the fifth annual Lead Education Day. Leading the charge was the Michigan Alliance for Lead Safe Homes (MiALSH), who connected constituents with 40 legislators or their staff to discuss the real hazards of lead still lurking in many of our homes in the state.

Each time a window or door is opened or closed, friction occurs that can create dust. In houses built before 1978 — the year lead was banned for use in paint — that dust can be contaminated with lead. Plus, the potential for exposure increases anytime an old home is remodeled. Michigan’s housing stock is older than the country average; 70 percent of the homes in the state (versus about 50 percent nationally) were built before 1978 and likely have windows, doors, cupboards, and porches coated with lead paint.

What legislators can do

There’s much we can do on the state level to prevent lead poisoning. On March 8, lawmakers learned about vital strategies, including:

  1. Universal lead testing of all children 1 and 2 years old. In 2015 about 5,000 Michigan kids had elevated blood lead levels (above 5 mg/dL). But the true total is likely much higher, because only about 20 percent of Michigan’s children under 6 are currently tested for lead exposure.
  1. Continue funding to support the state’s lead cleanup program. This money is leveraged to bring in federal funds to remove potential lead hazards in homes. After a child is discovered to have an elevated blood lead level (BLL), the source of exposure must be identified. Most often the cause is lead paint in the home. The second most common exposure source is soil around the home. Both of these hazards can be mitigated through state programs that replace old windows and doors, and remove contaminated soil.
  1. Stop using kids as lead detectors by requiring that homes in Michigan undergo a one-time lead inspection risk assessment to identify lead hazards before a home is sold or leased to a new resident.

Following on the heels of the Lead Education Day, Governor Snyder passed an executive order to create a permanent Child Lead Exposure Elimination Commission on March 16. This commission will work with the administration and legislature to implement these and other policy recommendations to end childhood lead poisoning.

Money sense

Lead Education Day advocates pointed out that investing in lead poisoning prevention is not only good for our health, but it’s also good for our collective wallet. The annual cost of lead exposure in Michigan children is approximately $270 million ($112 million of which is paid by taxpayers), according to the Ecology Center’s 2016 report, The Cost of Lead Exposure and Remediation in Michigan. For the report, researchers added up conservative estimates of four societal costs directly impacted by lead poisoning: increased health care, increased adult and juvenile crime, increased need for special education, and decline in lifetime earnings.

Remediating the most at risk homes, however, would cost the state approximately $600 million, giving a profitable return to the investment in less than three years. This is timely information for the legislators, as they will be working on the state budget over the next few months.

What can you do at home

  • Don’t allow children or pets to play in bare soil.
  • Remove shoes before entering the house.
  • Wet-mop floors weekly.
  • Remove dust with a wet cloth instead of dry dusting.
  • Frequently wash children’s faces, hands and teething toys.
  • Always use cold tap water for cooking.
  • Eat a diet rich in calcium, iron and vitamin C.
  • Get children under 6 tested for lead.
  • Contact the Ecology Center to see how you can get involved! Email Rebecca Meuninck (rebecca@ecocenter.org) or Melissa Cooper Sargent (melissas@ecocenter.org).

Melissa Cooper Sargent, Environmental Health Educator with LocalMotionGreen at Ecology Center. For more information, you can email her at melissas@ecocenter.org or visit http://www.ecocenter.org/lmg.

Childproofing your home

Toddler opening a cabinet

Unaltered image. Jed De La Cruz, Flickr. CC license.

As a parent, it is our job to keep our children safe. So how do you know when to start childproofing and where to start? This can be an overwhelming process for many parents. Have you ever just stood in the safety section at your local baby store? There is an entire wall chock full of products with a variety of door handle covers, outlet covers, drawer and cabinet locks, and other items that you never even knew existed. Here is some advice on how to make sure your home is safe for your baby.

  • Get down on the floor at baby’s level. The world looks a whole lot different from there. Pay attention to what baby can see and reach.
  • When should I start? The sooner the better, however once baby is able to start rolling (typically 4 to 6 months), you want to make sure you’ve started your childproofing.
  • Know your baby. Some babies are much more mobile and curious than others. Some babies need to climb and get into everything. For these children, you may need to be much more thorough.
  • Keep all medications, chemicals, soaps, and detergents away from baby. Make sure these items are in locked cupboards or above baby’s reach in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  • All items that fit within a toilet paper tube pose a choking hazard to baby. Anything that fits inside should be kept away from baby, especially small items like coins.
  • Make sure you have the number for poison control in your cell phone and a central location in your home (800) 222-1222. You can also download an app to your phone.
  • Register for the Consumer Product Safety Recall list to be alerted for recalled items.

Recommended safety items

  1. Outlet covers
    1. Babies are very curious and the outlets seem to attract little fingers.
    2. If you don’t like the outlet covers, you can swap out all of your outlets with ones that have covers built into them.
    3. When traveling to a relative or friend’s home, bring an extra pack of outlet covers to keep your baby safe.
  2. Gates
    • You must use gates mounted with hardware at the top and bottom of stairs.
    • Pressure-mounted gates can be used in hallways and doorways.
    • Some gates have extension pieces to make sure they fit your space properly.
    • If you need to mount your gate to the banister, you can purchase a kit that lets you install the gate without drilling holes into your banister.
  3. Furniture straps
    • All furniture (including dressers and book cases) should be strapped to wall in rooms that baby will be in. These help to prevent furniture from falling on top of baby.
  4. Door locks/handles
    • Make sure you have the correct type of door lock for the correct door:
      • Bi-fold door locks
      • Sliding door locks
      • Universal locks
      • Appliance locks (e.g., refrigerator, drawer under oven/washing machine, dishwasher, etc.)
      • Door latches are very inexpensive and perfect for basement doors.
      • Toilet locks keep children from “playing” in toilet.
  1. Drawer and cabinet locks
    • Plastic locks that screw into the inside of cabinets or drawers.
    • Magnetic locks are less visible, but more expensive).
  2. Cord protectors
    • Mini blind cord protectors
    • Power strip protectors
  3. Thermometer for bathtime
    • Ensures water is not too hot or cold for baby

– Amy Weiss, MPT  Supervisor of Outpatient Physical Therapy at Beaumont Physical Therapy Berkley

 

Can my child stay home alone all summer?

Close up of girl sitting on couch

Schools are about to break for the summer and you may be questioning whether or not your child is ready to spend all summer home alone. In Michigan, there is not a set age in which legally a child is able to stay home without adult supervision. Using some of the State of Michigan’s legal handbooks, it seems that it is generally acceptable to leave your child without adult supervision once the child is age 12.

Within the “Improper Supervision” section of the State of Michigan Child Protection Handbook: “According to the Child Protection Law, there is no legal age that a child can be left home alone. It is determined on a case-by-case basis, but as a rule of thumb, a child 10 years old and younger is not responsible enough to be left home alone. A child over the age of 10 and under the age of 12 will be evaluated, but the case may not always be assigned for a CPS investigation.” Additionally, The Michigan Child Support Handbook states, “The court may include an amount covering work-related child care expenses when the child is less than 12 years old.”

Despite the recommended age, it is even more important to determine your child’s maturity. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a few tips to help determine if your child is responsible enough to stay home and also some suggestions on what type of rules to set.

Some key questions you may want to consider are:

  • Does my child have any reservations about staying home alone?
  • In the event of an emergency, such as a fire or medical event, can your child respond appropriately?
  • Are you in a safe neighborhood?
  • Do you have neighbors who will watch out for suspicious activity? Would they be able to check in on your children if you aren’t able to reach them?
  • Does your child know when it is safe to answer the door?
  • If there are younger children in the home, do you trust them in the care of their older siblings all day?
  • Have you discussed internet and social media safety?
  • Do any children in the home have serious medical conditions, such as life-threatening allergies, diabetes or seizures?
  • Are you available via phone at all times?

If you’re still unsure you if or your child is ready, consider a few trial runs. Let them stay alone for a few hours at a time. Once you get home, talk about their day, particularly any problems they encountered and how they handled them. I am a big fan of the “drop in”; if you can, leave work early see and how they are faring when they don’t expect you back for hours. If you still don’t feel comfortable leaving your teen or tween home alone all summer, look into summer camps that may be of interest to them. You can also ask available aunts, uncles or grandparents to visit, or see if your child can hang out with friends who have parents home during the day.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health

National Poison Prevention Week action plan

 

Toddler holding a button battery

Cropped image. US CPSC, Flickr. CC license.

March 20 – 26, 2016 is National Poison Prevention Week. We have you covered with an action plan to make sure you and your family remain safe from some of the most common household poisoning causes.

  1. Plug in the phone number for the national poison control center into your cell phone and the phone of all caretakers of your children: 800-222-1222. Poison control has trained medical professionals available to answer questions 24/7/365 at no charge. If you have any concerns about a potential poisoning, they can help you determine what to do next.
  2. Do a home sweep to make sure all cleaning products are not only locked up safely, but are stored in their original containers. Young children may find that the bright colors of cleaning liquids resemble juices and sports drinks, and take a deadly drink. Be especially cautious if you purchase laundry pods, which are colorful and shiny with a close resemblance to candy. You can find more on laundry pods here.
  3. Visit the medicine cabinet to ensure all medications and vitamins are locked up and out of the reach of children. Now is a great time to get rid of expired or unnecessary medications. The Food and Drug administration offers some great tips on how to properly dispose of these. Also, April 30, 2016 is this year’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Find more information here about your local resources.
  4. Carbon monoxide poisoning is often referred to as the “silent killer”, but it’s easy to keep you and your family safe by ensuring you have working carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. Read for more details.
  5. A poison risk that you may not think about is button batteries, something you may not even realize is in your home. Most of these round buttons come already supplied in common items such as key fobs, remote controls, glucose monitors, fitness trackers, and even books and musical cards. It is important to seek immediate medical attention; button batteries continue to burn the tissue even after it is removed. This article talks more about button batteries.

Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System

Reference: http://www.aapcc.org/prevention/nppw/

How to keep your kids safe from airbags

SRS airbag logo on car

Cropped image. Hector Alejandro, Flickr. CC license.

There is no question: Airbags save lives. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) “Frontal airbags reduce driver fatalities in frontal crashes by 29 percent and fatalities of front-seat passengers age 13 and older by 32 percent.”

There are, however, circumstances when airbags can actually contribute to an injury. Recently my dad and stepmom were involved in a crash where the airbags kept them both alive and mostly uninjured. Unfortunately, the airbag deployment also left my stepmom with 50 percent hearing loss in one ear.

Here are a few steps you can take to reduce the chances that an airbag will injure you or the ones you love.

Sit properly

  • Drivers should sit with their chest at least 12 inches from the steering wheel and all passengers must wear their seatbelts properly.
  • Adjust the seat headrest so it is positioned higher than the top of your head. The headrest is designed specifically to reduce risk of neck injury in a crash.
  • Forget “10 and 2” on the steering wheel. Current driver’s training curriculum instructs new drivers to lower hand positions to 9 and 3. Lowering hand positions prevents forearms from being positioned directly over the area of air bag deployment. AAA produced this video on the right way to hold a steering wheel.
  • Do not lean against the window where there are side-impact curtain airbags and instruct your rear passengers to do the same. This was something that I had never thought about in the past.
  • Never put items on top of the dash (including your feet) or where airbags may deploy. Use your vehicle manual to familiarize yourself with the location of airbags in your specific car. Anything on top of an airbag could go flying in a crash and injure yourself and other passengers.

Keeping children safe

  • Never put a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag. This video shows exactly what happens to a child seat when used improperly.
  • Children should be at least 13 years old before they ride in the front seat. An airbag deploys at around 220 miles per hour! Shorter children can be severely injured at that speed, especially at lower heights. If you absolutely must put a younger child in the front seat, move the seat back as far as possible to get as much distance between the passenger and where the airbag would deploy.
  • Some cars have airbags within their seat belts referred to as “inflatable seat belts”. When installing a car seat or booster in these seating positions, you must ensure that the car seat manufacturer will allow installation or use with their seat. In some 5-point harnessed seats, the lower anchors of LATCH can be used alternative to the seatbelt for installation, but there are weight limits that must be considered. If you have inflatable seat belts, check with your car seat manufacturer for compatibility or use this quick list provided by Safe Kids.

– Erica Surman, RN, BSN, Pediatric Trauma Program Manager, Beaumont Health System

References:


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