Archive for the 'Safety' Category

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:

Safety on the slopes

Boy sledding wearing a helmet

Sledding is a great way to stay active during the time of year that most people tend to stay indoors. In order to keep safe on the slopes, review tips before you head out the door.

  • Bundle up! Here are some tips on how to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.
  • Encourage taking some breaks to warm up and also stay hydrated.
  • Choose a designated sledding hill that is free of trees and away from busy roads.
  • Helmets should be worn by all children under the age of 12. Ideally this would be a helmet specifically designed for winter sports, but a bicycle helmet could be used as well.
  • Discourage riding head first on a sled. Always have your child sit forward facing.
  • Teach kids to keep their arms and legs inside the sled and if they should fall out, move out of the path of others.
  • Never use a motorized vehicle to pull a sled. The most severe sledding injuries we’ve seen at our trauma center were caused by this mechanism.
  • Make sure someone has a cell phone if there is a need to call for help. If your older children are going alone, talk to them about situations that would warrant calling 911, for example a neck injury requiring immobilization of the spine.

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

Oh deer, we have a big problem here

2 deer crossing road in front of car

Edited image. State Farm, Flickr. CC License.

I often joke with my hunter husband that he should bring me to deer camp, because I have a keen sense of deer presence in my periphery. So far I have avoided a deer collisions myself, but my husband and approximately 50,000 other Michiganders each year have not been as lucky. According to the most recent report from the Michigan Deer Crash Coalition, there were 45,690 deer vehicle crashes last year in Michigan, with most crashes (1,750) occurring in Oakland County. Although deer-vehicle collisions occur year round, 42 percent occurred in fall when deer mating takes place.

My husband’s story aligns well with those statistics; he was on his way to our sons’ school Halloween parties when a buck chasing a doe hit his Dodge Ram. My husband later told me that he heard something loud hitting the car, and when he looked at his side view mirror to see what happened, he noticed the mirror was gone! He had no idea what happened until he pulled over and saw both deer.

As I said earlier, my husband is a hunter and couldn’t let the 200 pounds of fresh venison go to waste, so pursuant to Michigan law, he obtained a salvage tag from the police officer and had both deer processed. Luckily, neither he nor our daughter was injured in the collision, but she was in a car seat that needed to be replaced based on the manufacturer’s recommendation. For more information on replacing a car seat in a crash, read this article.

It’s very important to plan ahead what you would do should a deer cross your path. This is especially critical to review with your teen drivers so they have your instruction fresh on their minds. You can use this video as a good introduction to get the conversation started.

When drivers panic, they tend to swerve and end up striking a tree or another vehicle. That type of deer-related crash results in the most death and injuries. There is a saying, “Don’t veer for deer”, which reminds motorists what not to do for this very reason. The Michigan Deer Crash Coalition (MDCC) offers the following safety tips in the event a deer suddenly jumps in your way:

  • Don’t swerve!
  • Brake firmly.
  • Hold onto the steering wheel with both hands.
  • Come to a controlled stop.
  • Steer your vehicle well off the roadway

Other tips

  • Most deer-related traffic collisions occur at dusk and dawn when deer are more active.
  • Deer tend to travel in groups, so if you see one, expect more.
  • Always wear a seatbelt and avoid distractions such as texting. Having a quick reaction time is imperative!
  • Motorcyclists should be extra cautious. Last year six people were killed in Michigan, and all were on a motorcycle.
  • Motorcycle riders are advised to wear protective gear (including a helmet), cover the breaks to reduce reaction time, use high beam headlights, and stagger riders when in group formation to lessen the risk to others if one rider is hit.

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


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