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Keep Kids Safe Around Cars
last updated:
Thu, 3/14/2013 4:39 PM

Most of us know how important it is to buckle our children on every ride. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 10 percent of motor vehicle-related deaths to children do not occur in traffic. Some of these incidents happen when children are struck by vehicles in parking lots or when they are left in unattended in vehicles.

Safe Kids, led by le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, offers a few easy steps for parents and caregivers to do to keep children safe around vehicles:

  • Walk all the way around your parked vehicle to check for kids, pet or toys, before entering, starting your engine and moving your vehicle.
  • Make sure young children are always accompanied by an adult when getting in and out of a car.
  • Select safe play areas for your children -- away from parked or moving vehicles. Know where your children are playing.
  • Designate a safe spot for children to go when nearby vehicles are about to move.
  • Firmly hold the hand of each child when walking near moving vehicles, and in driveways, parking lots or on sidewalks.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
last updated:
Wed, 1/23/2013 11:24 AM

A carbon monoxide leak at a Nashville-area school sent 100 people to the hospital last week. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that decreases the amount of oxygen in the body, causing deadly illness. To keep your home safe from a carbon monoxide leak, take the following precautions recommended by Safe Kids Mid-South.

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.
  • Place carbon monoxide alarms at least 15 feet away from every fuel-burning appliance to reduce the number of nuisance alarms.
  • Test alarms every month and replace them every five years.
  • Make sure alarms can be heard when you test them and practice an escape plan with your entire family.
  • Have all gas, oil or coal burning appliances inspected by a technician every year to ensure they are working correctly and are properly ventilated.
  • Never use a stove for heating.
  • Do not use a grill, generator or camping stove inside your home, garage or near a window.
  • Never leave a car, SUV, or motorcycle engine running inside a garage, even if the garage door is open.
  • Carbon monoxide can accumulate anywhere in or around your boat, so install a carbon monoxide alarm on your motorboat.

Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which include:

  • The most common symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. In severe cases, the person may lose consciousness or die.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning can often be mistaken for other illnesses, such as the flu.
  • Often, more than one person in the household will suffer symptoms at the same time.

If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, follow these steps:

  • Get everyone out of the house as quickly as possible into fresh air. Then call for help from a neighbor’s home or a cell phone outside of your home.
  • If someone is experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, call 911 for medical attention.
  • If no one is experiencing symptoms, call the fire department. They will let you know when it is safe to re-enter your home.
Gun Injuries
last updated:
Mon, 1/14/2013 2:20 PM

Every year, Le Bonheur treats about 40 children who are victims of gun shot wounds, says Safe Kids Mid-South Director Susan Helms. Most of these victims are between the ages of 10 and 14.

The best thing you can do to protect your child is to keep guns out of your home. According to Safe Kids, if this is not possible, keep children from accessing firearms by:

  • Storing guns unloaded and locked (including gun locks)
  • Storing ammunition in a separate location, also locked
  • Hiding the keys to gun and ammunition storage

Helms recently spoke to ABC24 reporter Jackie Orozco about kids and gun injuries. Watch the report below.

Secure Your TV
last updated:
Fri, 12/28/2012 9:56 AM

A new report released recently by Safe Kids Worldwide and SANUS revealed that every three weeks, a child dies from a television tipping over -- and nearly 13,000 more children are injured each year in the U.S.

The report shows that young children are at greatest risk of TV tip-overs. According to the research, seven out of 10 children injured by TV tip-overs are 5 years old or younger. This age group also accounts for nine out of 10 serious injuries requiring hospitalization, including head injuries, which are among the most severe.

“Every 45 minutes, or less than the length of a Sesame Street episode, a child visits the ER because of a TV tipping over,” said Susan Helms, director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South at Le Bonheur.

Many TV tip-overs are a result of unsteady TVs that are not secured to the wall. Flat screen TVs that are top-heavy with narrow bases can be easily pulled off an entertainment center or table. Large and heavy old-style cathode ray tube (CRT) TVs placed on dressers or high furniture can also tip over if children climb the drawers to reach a remote control, a piece of candy, a video game or anything else that attracts their attention.

The report also revealed that three out of four parents don’t secure their TV to the wall. Most families are unaware that securing a TV is an important safety measure. Others decide not to mount their TVs because of concerns about damaging the wall or installing the TV incorrectly.

“You wouldn’t think to bring a baby home from the hospital without a car seat or have your child ride a bike without a helmet,” said Helms. “Similarly, securing your TV will go a long way in protecting your family.”

Make sure you do the following to prevent furniture tipovers in your home:

  • Check Your TV. Assess the stability of the TVs in your home.  Remember, a curious, determined child can topple a TV. Children playing with friends or pets could knock a TV over, while other kids might be tempted to climb up to reach items placed on or near a TV, such as remote controls or candy.
  • Secure Your TV. Securing your TV to the wall is a safe solution. Much like child proofing with a toddler gate or electrical socket cover, TV mounts and furniture straps are necessary precautions for keeping your family safe.
Fall Back, Check Smoke Detectors
last updated:
Fri, 11/02/2012 10:10 AM

A message from Safe Kids Mid-South, led by le Bonheur Children’s Hospital:

When it's time to "fall back" and change the clocks on Sunday, Nov. 4, make sure to check the batteries in all of your smoke alarms; it could save your life.

Did you know that having a working smoke alarm reduces a person's chance of dying in a fire by half?  For the best protection, install smoke alarms on every level of your home, outside every sleeping area and in every bedroom.  Smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings and tested monthly.

It's important to replace smoke alarm batteries at least once a year, unless they're 10-year lithium batteries.  Even if your smoke alarms are hardwired, replace the batteries in case of a power outage.

If an alarm "chirps," warning that the battery is low, replace the battery right  away.  Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hardwired alarms, when they are 10 years old or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

Bicycle Safety
last updated:
Thu, 10/04/2012 3:55 PM

The seventh annual Go Jim Go ended yesterday and raised more than $190,000 for Le Bonheur. We thought readers might like to learn more about bike safety in honor of Jim Jagger's 333-mile bicycle ride across the Mid-South.

We urge parents, caregivers and children to be safe while riding a bike – no matter how long or short the distance traveled.

Helmets, especially, are important. “A bicycle helmet is essential safety gear,” says Susan Helms, Le Bonheur director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South. “Helmets could prevent an estimated 75 percent of fatal head injuries and up to 45,000 head injuries to children who ride bikes each year.”

Sometimes children mistakenly believe that they don’t need to wear helmets when they’re riding near home. Unfortunately, about 53 percent of vehicle-related bike deaths to children happen on minor roads and residential streets.

“Teach kids to obey traffic signs and the rules of the road. Kids should not ride without supervision until they have demonstrated that they always follow the rules,” says Helms.

A helmet should also be labeled to indicate that it meets the standards set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. “As long as it’s certified, let kids pick out their helmets” Helms says. “If they think a helmet looks cool, they’ll be more likely to wear it when you’re not around.”

Safe Kids Mid-South also reminds parents and caregivers to:

  • Make sure the helmet fits and your kids know how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position and should not rock forward and backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly. Safe Kids recommends the “Eyes, Ears and Mouth” test:

EYES: Position the helmet on your head.  Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
EARS:  Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under your ears when buckled.  The strap should be snug but comfortable.
MOUTH:  Open your mouth as wide as you can.  Do you feel the helmet hug your head?  If not, tighten those straps, and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.

  • Make sure the bike is the right size for the child. There should be about one inch of clearance between the bike frame and the child’s groin when the child’s feet are flat on the ground. Also, make sure the bike is in good repair — reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated.
  • Remember, bike helmets are for biking. Kids should not wear bike helmets on the playground (where the straps can get caught on equipment and cause injury) or for activities that require specialized helmets (such as skiing or football).
  • Model and teach proper bicyclist behavior. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible. Use appropriate hand signals, and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stop lights.
  • When in doubt, get help. The sales staff at any bicycle shop or outdoor recreation store should be able to provide expert advice on fitting and adjusting bikes and helmets.
Stay Safe Walking To, From School
last updated:
Fri, 8/17/2012 11:49 AM

With school back in session, Safe Kids Mid-South, led by Le Bonheur Children’s, offers a few tips below to ensure kids stay safe while traveling to and from school:

Here are some simple reminders for drivers:

  • Slow down and be more alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
  • Take extra time to look for children at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  • Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  • Watch for children on and near the road in the morning and after school hours.
  • Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your cell phone, and don’t talk or text while driving.

Reminders for your children:

  • They should cross the street with an adult until they are at least 10 years old.
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Never run out into the streets or cross in between parked cars.
  • Make sure they always walk in front of the bus where the driver can see them.

Take the Back-to-School Safety Pledge:
“I pledge to eliminate distractions while I drive, especially in school zones.”  

Stay Safe This Sports Season
last updated:
Tue, 8/07/2012 4:17 PM

With many young school athletes working hard to prepare for fall sports, Safe Kids Mid-South is encouraging parents and coaches to keep children safe on and off  the field and prevent sports injuries, including heat-related illnesses.

Nearly 75 percent of United States households have at least one child who plays organized sports.  About 3.5 million children receive medical treatment for a sports-related injury each year, and as many as half of these injuries are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A national survey commissioned by Safe Kids Worldwide in April 2012, funded by Johnson & Johnson, confirmed parents and coaches need more youth sports safety information. In fact, when asked in a survey of more than 750 coaches, 73 percent of coaches reported that they would like more training in heat illness prevention. Additionally, only one percent of young athletes reported having heard about heat illness as a type of sports injury. 

Safe Kids offers these important tips for coaches, parents, and league organizers to prevent heat illness and dehydration:

  • Don’t wait for kids to tell you they are thirsty. Making regular water breaks (every 15-20 minutes) a habit will help avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
  • Encourage young athletes to drink water at least 30 minutes before play and every 15-20 minutes during play.
  • For fluid intake during physical activity, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends: 
       5 oz. for an 88-pound child every 20 minutes; 9 oz. for a 132-pound adolescent every 20 minutes
  • A child’s gulp equals a .5 oz. of fluid, so generally, your child should drink about 10 gulps for every 20 minutes of play
  • Use urine color as a guide for hydration status:
       Light-like lemonade then the child is likely hydrated; Dark-like apple juice then he/she is likely dehydrated

Safe Kids Mid-South, led by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, will sponsor a free Sports Safety Clinic on Saturday, Aug. 11, at Dick’s Sporting Goods, 2392 N. Germantown Pkwy., from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Backpack Smarts
last updated:
Mon, 8/06/2012 2:17 PM

As school starts for many kids this week, remember to pack and carry backpacks carefully. Heavy backpacks and carrying them improperly can lead to back pain or injuries. Safe Kids Mid-South, led by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, offers these tips for your children to prevent backpack injuries: 

  • Choose a backpack that is small with thickly padded shoulder straps and support. Select a backpack with a padded back, a waist belt that distributes weight evenly and one with multiple compartments that will allow for better weight distribution.
  • Wear a backpack correctly.  Distribute the weight, and use both shoulder straps. Take the backpack off when you will be standing for a long period of time.
  • Lift a backpack properly.  Face the backpack before lifting it, bend at the knees and lift with your legs, not your back. Keep the pack close to your body.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity, particularly exercises designed to strengthen the core muscles (abdominal muscles, spine muscles, buttock muscles, and upper thigh muscles), can help reduce the frequency and severity of back pain.
Fourth of July Safety
last updated:
Mon, 7/02/2012 3:59 PM

Fourth of July is a time for celebration across the country, and fireworks displays are a crowd favorite each year.  Fireworks can be fun to watch, but they can also be very dangerous. Safe Kids Mid-South, led by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, warns families to take extra precautions around this holiday.

Around this time of year, more than 2,500 children in the United States ages 14 and younger are treated for fireworks-related injuries. 

“Don’t ever let children play with fireworks, period,” says Susan Helms, director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South. “They’re intended for use by adults with permits to carefully use them in open spaces. Children should watch from a safe distance with plenty of adult supervision to make sure they don’t get too close.”

Fireworks, including sparklers and flares, can cause serious burns or blast injuries that can permanently impair vision and hearing. Helms says the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch them at a community event where professionals handle them.

Safe Kids Mid-South recommends these precautions for adults using fireworks:

  • Light fireworks only on smooth, flat surfaces, and aim them away from spectators, buildings, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
  • Do not try to re-light fireworks that malfunction.
  • Do not carry fireworks in your pocket or hold them close to your face.
  • Visit www.recalls.gov to make sure the pyrotechnic devices you are using are not subject to any safety recalls.
  • Do not modify fireworks or use homemade fireworks.
  • Keep a phone handy, and know first aid for burns. Also, keep a fire extinguisher handy, and know how to use it.
  • Teach kids how to “stop, drop and roll” if their clothes catch on fire.
Check Your Car: Don't Leave Kids Behind
last updated:
Fri, 6/29/2012 4:18 PM

With highs reaching into the 100s this weekend, it’s important to ensure no child is left behind in your car. Temperatures this hot make heat stroke (or other heat-related illnesses) even more likely. Safe Kids Mid-South shares some important tips below.

Here’s what parents and caregivers need to know and why:

Take immediate action. The body temperature of children rises three to five times faster than adults’ body temperature, and as a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. 

Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.
Lock vehicles and trunks.  Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle.  These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicles to assure that kids don’t enter and become trapped.

Create reminders.  Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child.  To help prevent these tragedies parents can:

  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings. 
  • Set the alarm on your cell phone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care.  Check out the Baby Reminder application, which automatically monitors and determines when you are driving and when not.
  • Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”  Establish a plan with your daycare that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time, you will be called within a few minutes.
  • Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for daycare.  

Get involved.  Free educational materials are available at www.Safekids.org. Post them at your child care center, place of business or church. Let's help each other prevent further tragedies!

Pool Safety: Watch Your Children
last updated:
Wed, 6/27/2012 10:17 AM

Most drownings happen quickly and silently -- but often with people nearby. Safe Kids Mid-South, led by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, strongly urges parents and adult caregivers to designate a "Water Watcher" by the pool, spa or any body of water. This responsible adult assumes the role of actively watching any child in or near the water. A short phone call, text message or other simple distraction is all it takes for a tragedy to happen.

Here are some other pool and spa tips:

LOCK

  • Put up a fence that is at least 4 feet high and surrounds all side of the pool or spa. The fence should have a gate that closes and latches itself.
  • Use door, gate and pool alarms.
  • Teach children not to play or swim near pool or spa drains.
  • Use approved safety drain covers and back-up devices.        

LOOK

  • Always actively watch children in or near water.
  • Watch them even if they know how to swim.
  • Children who can’t swim or can’t swim well should be within your reach.
  • Keep a phone near you to use only if you need to call for help.
  • If a child is missing, look in the pool or spa first.

LEARN

  • Both adults and children should learn to swim.
  • Learn when to use U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Learn how to use rescue equipment.
  • Learn CPR.

DID YOU KNOW?             

  • Most children were being watched by an adult juts before they drowned.
  • Drowning is one of the leading causes of death for children.
  • Approximately 400 children ages 14 and younger drown each year in pools or spas.
  • Home swimming pools are the most common place for a child younger than 5 to drown

For more information, please visit www.makeasplashmidsouth.org

Detergent Packs: A Danger to Kids
last updated:
Wed, 6/06/2012 2:00 PM

You might have seen this recent interview with Safe Kids Mid-South's Susan Helms on WREG. She talked to reporter Zaneta Lowe about the reported dangers of kids ingesting laundry detergent packs. Kids think these packs, which are small and can look like candy, are for them, says Susan.

Watch the interview to learn more from Susan about this warning.  

Sandboxes: Is Your Sand Safe?
last updated:
Fri, 5/11/2012 1:08 PM

Popular DIY bloggers Sherry and John Petersik of Young House Love recently posed a question about the safety of some sandboxes. Their concerns were over certain types of sand -- commonly found in playgrounds or sandboxes -- that contain crystalline silica and asbestos tremiline-- both known to potentially put children at risk for developing cancer, says Susan Helms, Le Bonheur director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South.

Helms says the kind of play sand that can have both of these carcinogens is made from crushed rock,  so look for river or beach sand for your child’s sandbox.  These can usually be found at landscape or gardening stores.  Though slightly more expensive, Safe Sand sells carcinogen-free sand for sandboxes.

Helms also recommends following these guidelines from the National Health and Safety Performance:

  • Sand play areas should be distinct from areas for any other equipment (such as swings, slides).
  • All sandboxes should be kept covered when not under active adult supervision.  This area needs to be secured to prevent entry by children or animals, and sufficient to prevent contamination by liquids and solids.
  • Sandboxes should be equipped with constant and effective drainage systems and made to present no safety hazards.
  • Sterilized sand or very fine pea gravel may be used.
  • Sand that becomes contaminated should be replaced.  Treatment of sand with chemicals is not recommended.
  • Sand in sandboxes and play areas should be replaced as needed, but at least every two years.
Teens and Hand-Sanitizers
last updated:
Fri, 5/04/2012 1:38 PM

Hospitals around the country have noticed a startling issue: teens drinking ethanol hand sanitizers to get drunk. It is a dangerous trend, and we found some great information worth sharing from the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
Symptoms from alcohol poisoning include confusion, vomiting, slow or irregular breathing, blue-tinged or pale skin, low body temperature or loss of consciousness.

Safe Kids Mid-South supports the following tips for parents:

  • Talk to your teens about the dangers of drinking hand sanitizers.
  • Explain why alcohol poisoning is not a laughing matter
  • Buy hand sanitizers that don’t contain ethanol
  • If you think someone has drunk hand sanitizer to get high, call 1-800-222-1222 to reach the experts at your local poison center. Don’t wait for symptoms to develop.

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Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center is a leading children's hospital in the Mid South, providing pediatric care to children from 95 counties in six states.
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