Posts Tagged 'safety'

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

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:

Minors and sexting part two: What parents can do

iPhone in jeans pocket

Unaltered image. Martin Abegglen, Flickr. CC license.

In Part One, we covered the definition and prevalence of sexting in minors. Today, we review potential consequences, and most importantly, how parents can help kids make better choices. Special thanks again to Judge Derek Meinecke of Oakland County’s 44th District Court and Ms. Stephanie Wright, MA, LLP, LPC, of Beaumont Children’s Hospital’s Ted Lindsay Foundation HOPE Center, for their invaluable input on this topic.

What criminal charges are involved with sexting? Judge Meinecke clarifies: Cases are dealt with individually based on the facts, and in many cases criminal prosecution is neither necessary nor appropriate. However, felony charges are a “necessary evil” for circumstances involving predatory behavior. Unfortunately some young people are not innocent in their intentions, and if we de-criminalize this behavior simply because the parties involved are all under 17, we create a dangerous loophole for child pornographers and pedophiles.

Age is an important distinction: Currently, 17-year-olds are treated as adults in Michigan and can be charged with distribution of child pornography. Even if you just turned 17 last week, this changes everything in the eyes of the law, so parents and teens alike should be aware of this legal game-changer.

Aren’t we over-reacting? Isn’t this just a high-tech version of what teenagers have always done? Maybe, maybe not. A 2012 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine study found higher rates of “risky sex behaviors” (e.g., multiple partners, using drugs or alcohol before sex, etc.) in teen girls who engaged in sexting behaviors. Girls may be more stigmatized for sexting than boys. The authors note, “Sexting may be a new type of sexual behavior in which teens may (or may not) engage.” (p. 832). For many teens, sexting behavior is not sinister, but being digitally savvy does not equal maturity and life experience (AAP, 2011). Even if sexting is just the latest version of sexual exploration, it can have long-term serious outcomes.

What can I do as a parent? All experts agree: The number one thing you can do is to have open, honest conversations with your kids. Yes, it will be awkward! They may ask you some pointed questions about your own past, or share information with you that is hard to hear. However, Judge Meinecke says, “You can be an extraordinarily dynamic parent and really help your kids” by taking time to be educated. Most importantly, he says, we need to be there for our kids, but “not as a friend or as an executioner.” We can be a source of information for our kids, a safe place. Ms. Wright shares this view: “They’re going to make mistakes. They’re still kids. But we need to educate them, not lecture.” As parents we have the responsibility to help set appropriate boundaries, but if our kids sense our extreme discomfort with the topic, they won’t open up. Ms. Wright suggests middle school as a good time to start the conversation, “The earlier you start talking about it, the better.”

You can also reach out to your pediatrician or family physician. The American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to be involved, and for doctors to talk openly with their patients and families about teen sexting.

Keep computers in public areas of the house and monitor usage. This AAP article suggests you are honest with your kids about this and show them you know how to use whatever apps they’re using.

Just like helping kids avoid the dangers of drugs, alcohol and smoking, there is benefit to making them aware of pitfalls, but a strictly fear- or punishment-based approach will turn them away. Being involved appropriately in your teenager’s life helps prevent future missteps, and real life ”face time” discussing difficult issues can create a strong, healthy relationship between you and your son or daughter.

– Lori Warner, Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, Director, HOPE Center at Beaumont Children’s Hospital

Minors and sexting part one: Not just child’s play

 Hidden girl sitting in doorway playing with cell phone

This is part one of a two-part series: Here, we’ll cover the basic facts about sexting among minors, and begin to discuss possible consequences. In Part Two, we’ll review legal issues and other consequences in more detail, as well as give ideas for parents and teens to help prevent a snap decision from turning into lifelong regrets.

Special thanks to Judge Derek Meinecke of the Oakland County 44th District Court and Ms. Stephanie Wright, MA, LLP, LPC, of Beaumont Children’s Hospital’s Ted Lindsay Foundation HOPE Center, for their invaluable input on this topic. Thanks also to Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica R. Cooper for publishing a brochure for minors.

Hold the phone! What is all this talk about sexting? Maybe you’ve heard of court cases or even found some sketchy content on your child’s phone. Personally, I knew very little about the prevalence of sexting among minors, but learned more after being asked to contribute to a story in the Providence Journal.

What is sexting? Sexting is defined as “the act of sending sexually explicit photos, primarily between cell phones.” It’s important to note that in Michigan, creating, soliciting, possessing or distributing sexually explicit photos of a minor (someone under 18 years old) is a felony. These charges can carry four to 20 years in prison! In addition there would be fines and court costs, and mandatory entry in Michigan’s sex offender registry.

How much does it happen? Estimates vary, and the numbers of teens owning cell phones has increased since a 2009 study by the Pew Research Center, “Teens and Sexting”. That study found 4 percent of teens ages 12 – 17 had sent explicit photos, and 15 percent admitted to receiving such photos. Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica R. Cooper’s informational brochure states that 40 percent of teens state they’ve been shown explicit photos or messages originally intended for someone else. Twenty percent of teen girls and 33 percent of teen boys report having posted nude or semi-nude photos of themselves.

Why do it? Sexting is not unusual and peer pressure can be intense to look. The ability to make rational judgments and use our long-term thinking skills isn’t fully mature until at least age 25. Teenagers also typically don’t believe that the bad things they hear about will actually happen to them. So even though they may be aware of the possible consequences, they may think, “Sure, but my boy/girlfriend would never do that!”

Stephanie Wright, MA, LLP, LPC, HOPE Center behavioral consultant, says that teens may think sexting is fun, exciting or “no big deal.” It’s not until the consequences are explained that they even begin to think of what may go wrong.

Often, sexting occurs between couples who are dating, or even as a way of initiating a relationship. Although the images may have been willingly created and sent at the time, one bad fight and suddenly what was intended for one person’s eyes only is being forwarded to many others. As the Cooper brochure states, “Once you hit send, you lose all control over any image you have sent.”

Another contributing factor may be the sheer volume of explicit material available on the Internet. In the past, boys might find their dad’s Playboy magazines and ogle the centerfold. This is worlds away from what kids see today with just a few mouse clicks. “The vast amount of material out there at the disposal of a young person whose Internet access is not being monitored is terrifying,” says Judge Derek Meinecke (Oakland County 44th District Court). He notes that even if your child’s access is monitored, his or her friends’ parents may not be as aware, and they may share this content with your child. Judge Meinecke also feels that viewing explicit content online, which is often impersonal and misogynistic, may set a tone regarding what the minor then expects in his or her own relationships as they grow older.

What should we do about it? All this information can be scary and overwhelming. Being a parent or a kid today is in some ways harder than it used to be, says Judge Meinecke. However, he also points out that parents today have resources available today that our parents never had. The Beaumont Parenting Program Blog is a great example!

In Part Two, we will further review potential consequences for minors who sext, and provide expert recommendations on how to talk to your children about this topic. Stay tuned!

– Lori Warner, Ph.D., LP, BCBA-D, Director, HOPE Center at Beaumont Children’s Hospital


Topics

Enter your email address and you'll receive notifications of new posts in your in-box.

Join 2,674 other followers

Free Developmental Screening

Confidential online developmental screening for children up to age 5

Awards