Posts Tagged 'safety'

Is your child in the right car seat? 

dad buckling young daughter into car seat

image credit: NHTSA Traffic Safety Marketing

Most people believe that their child is safely restrained in the correct car seat, and yet 80 to 90 percent of people are misusing their child safety restraint. That means 8.5 people out of 10 are either doing something with the car seat that they shouldn’t be, or not doing something that they should be. Today, we’ll review the basics of car seats and make sure that your kids are in that top 10 percent.

The first and best piece of advice for parents with kids in car seats is to have their seats inspected by a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST). You can register for a free inspection through Beaumont. Every time you get a new car seat or a new vehicle you should have your seat inspected by a professional.

Installation highlights

  • Installation standards require that you refer to both your car seat manual and your vehicle manual to achieve a safe installation. In general, however, remember to use either lower anchors or a seat belt to install the seat — never both.
  • Lower anchors have weight limits so always refer to your vehicle manual when using them.
  • Seats should be installed tightly enough that they move less than one inch from side-to-side at the belt path.
  • Rear-facing seats should also be installed at the proper level, which is usually indicated with a level indicator on the seat. Also, be sure that they do not touch the seats in front of them.
  • Forward-facing seats should be tethered using the belt at the top and back of the seat to prevent forward head momentum. Locations of top tether anchors are found in vehicle manuals.

Selecting the right seat

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated its recommendations to say that children should be rear facing in child restraints until at least age 2, but longer if they can remain rear facing according to the height and weight limits of their seats. Many people shorten this recommendation to “Rear facing until 2.” However, the most important part of the advice is the second part referring to the height and weight limits of the seat. The best way to ensure that your child is using the right car seat is to check the label on the side of the seat. All seats provide labeling that gives the height and weight limits for car seats, and children should use those seats until they reach one limit or the other (height or weight). Using each restraint until its height or weight limit before moving to the next step ensures that a child stays as safely restrained as possible.

Restraining the child in the seat

While putting the seat properly in the vehicle is important, equally important is safely restraining the child in the seat.

  • Children using 5-point harness seats should have their harnesses snug at all five of those points (hips, shoulder and breast bone).
  • A strap is snug enough at the shoulders when no slack in the strap can be pinched at the shoulder from the front of the strap to the back.
  • Hip straps should sit low on the hip bone, with no more than one finger’s space between the strap and the hip.
  • Finally, the chest clip of a 5-point harness should sit at the armpit level of the child in order to ensure its position over the breastbone.

Other useful tips

  • Ensure that the car seat hasn’t reached its expiration date. Once a child passenger restraint has expired, it is no longer safe to use.
  • Register your car seats with their manufacturers so that you will be notified of any safety recalls. A recalled car seat needs to be repaired or replaced according to manufacturer directions.
  • Restrain any loose articles in cargo areas, storage pockets, or by using unused seat belts. Loose articles in a vehicle will tumble around the car in an accident, potentially causing injuries. Securing those loose items will keep both child and adult occupants of the vehicle safer.
  • Refrain from adding after market products to your car seat. Believe it or not, products sold in stores to go with car seats (e.g, extra shoulder strap covers, head and neck supports, mirrors, sun shades secured with suction cups, and seat protectors) take away from the safety of the child restraint and should not be used.
  • In the upcoming cold weather, put a blanket or jacket over your child’s harness in their seat (rather than under it) to ensure you have the snug fit of the harness that I covered earlier.

Remember: All a car seat needs to be perfect is your child!

– Nicole Capozello, CPST, Beaumont Parenting Program

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

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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