Is Your Family Safe When You’re Driving?

Last updated on August 13th, 2015 at 04:18 pm

Editor’s Note:  An unsafe driving style can put you and your family at risk, but it also sets a poor example for your little future drivers.  This article provides a few common-sense reminders that most of us could benefit from.

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Mother driving with baby in rear car seatThink you’re an ace on the road? Not so fast. Even if you’ve never gotten so much as a parking ticket, you may have forgotten some traffic rules – and that could put you and your family at risk for an accident. Consider this: A 2011 study from GMAC Insurance found that 18 percent of American drivers (nearly one in five motorists) couldn’t pass a written drivers test if they took it today. Here are the most common – and dangerous – mistakes drivers make, plus tips on tuning up your driving smarts.

You multi-task while driving.

Inattentive driving is something of a national epidemic, thanks to rampant cell phone use behind the wheel. And there’s no denying its danger: Distracted driving is said to be the cause of up to 25 percent of crashes nationwide.

So when you rev up your car, power down your phone and iPad. “It’s not the time to read email or update your Facebook status,” says William Van Tassel, Ph.D., manager of Driver Training Operations for AAA in Orlando, Florida.

You don’t look far enough ahead on the road – or far enough to the side.

Yes, you should look at the back of the vehicle in front of you to respond quickly if necessary. But you also need to look at what’s going in front of that vehicle – and regularly scan both the rear-view and side mirrors to find out what’s happening all around you. If vehicles are blocking a portion of your vision, assume something is there to be safe.

You follow other cars too closely.

It’s crucial to have a cushion of space all around your vehicle in case you need to move quickly out of harm’s way. But only 25 percent of drivers in the GMAC study knew what a safe driving distance was.

“Stay three to four seconds behind the vehicle ahead of you, and one car-size space to the side,” Van Tassel advises. Reducing your speed a little bit will give you more room and help you avoid fender-benders.

You go straight in the left-turn lane.

Some drivers disregard the arrows and use turn lanes to speed up and pass traffic at intersections. For safety’s sake, stay in the center or right lanes if you’re not turning. “Other drivers coming at you want to use that space to turn left, and if you’re there, it could result in a head-on collision,” Van Tassel says.

You slow down or stop when entering a highway.

It’s easier to merge with other motorists if you’re driving up to their speed as you enter the expressway. You also risk getting hit from behind if you slow down, because the drivers behind you won’t expect it.

You drive too fast in bad weather.

In fog, rain, ice storms or snow, forget the speed limit signs and slow down to improve your visibility and traction.

“A simple adjustment in speed will give you time to respond to anything that suddenly pops up in front of you,” Van Tassel says. “The traction your tires have on a wet road is about 30 percent less than on a dry road. Reduce your speed by 30 percent to maintain the same level of safety.”

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 06-09-2014 to 06-15-2014

Last updated on June 19th, 2014 at 10:18 pm

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
5 Surprising Ways to Slash Screen Time & Save Summer http://t.co/g5albi3aTq
Terrific ideas on how to engage your kids!

Your Child Has Summer Sniffles …Is It a Cold or Allergy?

Last updated on August 29th, 2015 at 07:06 pm

child sneezing during the summerSummer time is the time for fun and family enjoyment. The early and late parts of summer are, however, noticeable for stirring up allergic symptoms due to grass and trees in May and June and such plants as ragweed during August and September. Symptoms such as burning, itching eyes and runny, itchy nose with or without cough are typical symptoms of environmental allergies. There is no fever as this is not an infection. Symptoms of a summer cold however can mimic those of allergy, but usually itching is not a major part.

A cold, or upper respiratory infection, is, as the name implies an infection by viral agents that usually invade through mucus membranes (inside of nose, mouth or eyes), set up shop and multiply to some extent. The multiplication is usually self-limited as the body’s natural defense systems go to work. When the defenses are working, there may be fever, achiness, headache and a variety of other minor symptoms. Allergic symptoms do not usually include the systemic symptoms mentioned above.

Unfortunately sometimes, cold and allergy symptoms occur simultaneously, causing some confusion among parents, patients and Doctors in terms of diagnosis. Sometimes, also, it is impossible to tell them apart even to the most trained eye.

The bottom line is even though there may be no telling them apart, there is no cure for the common cold, and the combined symptoms can be treated similarly. If a child has known environmental allergy, he/she may be treated with an antihistamine such as Benadryl for short term (4 – 6 hrs) or Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra for long term (once or twice every 24hrs) for the symptoms; no response may indicate a cold and not allergy, while the concurrent symptoms of fever, achiness, headache and others may strengthen the diagnosis of a cold.

Certainly it is worthwhile to use a humidifier in his or her room to moisten irritated mucous membranes, drink plenty of fluids, and use Tylenol or Advil in the appropriate dosages for poorly tolerated symptoms. Important to note that controlling fever with the use of these medications is not necessary unless your child is very uncomfortable. Using these medications will not get rid of the fever in the long run, but it will make him or her feel more comfortable in the short term. The fever, remember, is there because the body is fighting off the infection and therefore is a relatively good sign in a healthy child. The fever will persist until the cleansing process is finished.

Sign Language for Emergency Situations: ASL, English & Spanish

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 12:44 am

It’s been almost four years since the first run of my video – Sign Language for Emergency Situations -ASL, English and Spanish appeared at my front door. I carefully opened the huge boxes and looked at the “zillion” copies that were all over my living room floor. How funny, that this little DVD carried so much history with it… none which is reflected on the DVD itself or its’ cover.

You see, I first decided to create this DVD on a date that will be easy to remember- September 11, 2001. It was a date in which many families, including mine, were intimately impacted by the days’ events. I had a brother and a cousin within sneezing distance of the World Trade Center that day. I had other relatives and numerous friends who all had Manhattan addresses. I also knew that many deaf individuals resided in NYC and wondered how terrified were they on that fateful and tragic day when communication was minimal at best and fear was at an all time high. In addition, my own family lives within a half hour to the nation’s capitol. Our local area, including our neighborhood, has dozens of families who work for government agencies, many of them deaf.

DVD - multi-lingual sign language for emergenciesThat is the day I decided that I wanted to be part of the communication solution for those in the deaf community. I knew that my brother had benefited that day from the ability to ask questions of others as he walked the streets looking for a way to get home. He was able to assist others with the information he received and be a benefactor of the generosity of total strangers. He also could hear. But, what happened to the people who were not able to communicate during the flurry of madness on this unbelievable nightmare of a day? Pencil and paper was not practical when there was so much happening and the need for safety was tantamount. If only the emergency first responder knew simple signs such as – EVACUATE!, GO INDOORS, ARE YOU HURT?, WHO IS MISSING?, WHAT IS YOUR NAME? EXPLOSION! DO YOU NEED HELP?

It took me a long time to wrap my head around the events of 9/11. I know that I am not alone. But, then it came to me- I needed to develop something to help people who speak two of the four most common languages, other than English, in the United States to get assistance during natural disasters, medical crisis or if ever there was another 9/11! So, with help from my friends, especially Karina Prizont Cowan, I developed Sign Language for Emergency Situations with ASL and narration in Spanish and English. The entire DVD is signed and open captioned – for all to have access.

I started this journey by querying people who would be first to respond during an emergency. I went to fire stations throughout our local area and ask them what they would include. I asked each emergency first responder questions such as – How much time would they dedicate to learning a new skill, such as basics of sign language and what they would want to add, if anything? I also talked to school nurses, health care providers within hospital settings (including pediatrics), educators, parents of special needs children and even people I “met” through social media. I made sure to include deaf people in my “focus” groups. Showing them list after list of vocabulary words and phrases. Finally, the final list was generated and a DVD was filmed. Afterwards, I showed it to many who helped with their initial input. Modifications were made to the video at the very strong request of first responders who wanted it “short and sweet- 25 minutes or less!”. We also decided to add the Sign Language for Emergency Situations mini-chart that accompanies the DVD as an enclosure. The last piece prior to duplication was two super endorsements- Alison Rhodes the Safety Mom and Mackenzie Kelly of NORCAL Ambulance.

When the DVD was completed we put it up on YouTube and asked many people to “check it out”. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Then I began to think how can I get this to the people who it could benefit most. Twitter, Facebook, friends and good old word of mouth were very effective. Harris Communications- a large distributor of products for the deaf and hearing community who wish to learn ASL, etc. “hopped on board”. Hilary Bilbrey, owner of InspiredbyFamily.com and the creator of the Brecker Bunny Series took my DVD to a safety conference and was kind enough to give me feedback from the very people who I wanted to reach- the emergency first responder!

knowledgeDozens of phone calls later I have talked to people from all over the country who wanted to know how to access the product, workshops and more. They are excited about the DVDs and the mini-chart for emergencies. They are thrilled that we have a unique product, which no one has encountered before, a TRILINGUAL emergency communication series with English, Spanish and ASL! Also, they like that our little company is accessible and affordable since so many areas have been hard hit financially.

It’s been a while since those first boxes appeared, but during that time I have made a number of guest speaking appearances to help train emergency personnel around the country. Unfortunately, with all the recent school shootings, it has become even more important to ensure each first responder is prepared so they can help children with special needs as well as those without.  And it has become our mission to help make this possible.

Four years later we know this is still only the beginning!

HEALTHFUL HINTS

Tips for getting started when learning American Sign Language (ASL):

  • Learning ASL can be loads of fun! Start with a few words at a time and practice with your family, friends, and co-workers to help your skills to improve quickly (and teach others!)
  • Parents should start with signs such as: MORE, HELP, FINISHED, BE CAREFUL with their children (depending on the age and developmental level of the child would determine where to start)
  • Also, knowing the letters of the alphabet and numbers 0-10 should be essential for beginners. Why? Because in a true emergency these would be the words most needed to help convey personal information and get an immediate response. If you can spell or read the ASL alphabet (known as the manual alphabet or fingerspelling) then you can convey any information to a deaf person who can “read ASL” and vice versa, such as names, email addresses, and phone numbers.
  • Children and adults with special learning challenges often need to sign adaptively. However, adults who live and work with these individuals should sign correctly. The same is true for parent of young children. “Baby sign babble” will give way to correct signing if the adults are good language models.

Signs for Emergency Situations

  • Knowing the Signs for CALL 9-1-1! HELP! PAIN, EVACUATE! could save LIVES!
  • If First Responders, Law Enforcement officers, Health Care providers, School Nurses and Educators knew basic emergency ASL signs they could help communicate and facilitate assistance during natural disasters, acts of terrorism, emergency health care situations, or if a person is lost or has been abducted.
  • Non-emergency situations also can be a reason to learn sign language such as in the case of looking for a lost puppy or fixing a “boo-boo” that occurred on the school playground.

Enjoy your journey and let me know if I can help you along your way.

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Editor’s Note: It was July of 2010 when we first introduced you to Louise Sattler of Signing Families and her wonderful DVD “Sign Language for Emergency Situations.  In the wake of all the recent tragedies affecting children, Louise has made a commitment to focus her efforts on ensuring emergency first responder disaster preparedness.  Given her passionate dedication to helping save children’s lives, we wanted to take a moment and re-introduce this wonderful DVD to the Pediatric Safety community.  

Games for Building Better Family Bonds

Last updated on June 19th, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Family laughing and playing cardsYour typical afternoon probably goes like this: Pick up kids from school; shuttle to soccer game, music class and dance lessons; head to the grocery store; then get back home in time to make dinner. And even though the time you spend with your kids is precious, you probably wouldn’t classify this minivan marathon as quality time.

But who’s to say that everyday experiences can’t turn into special moments that strengthen family bonds? And what better way to infuse laughter and fun than with games that draw out every family member?

“Using this time for fun activities reinforces the idea that you can take pleasure in the mundane parts of life,” says Cynthia Copeland, author of Fun on the Run: 324 Instant Family Activities. “It also teaches kids to make the most of what’s available to them.”

Check out Copeland’s kid-friendly game ideas and create memorable moments in the car, at the market and the family dinner table.

In the Car   Instead of popping in a DVD, use car time to get kids to observe their surroundings.

  • For short trips  Crank up the radio. Pick a common word you’re likely to hear in songs, such as “love” or “time”. As your kids listen, they can announce when they hear the key words, keeping track of how many they hear. The one who racks up the most callouts by the time you reach your destination wins.
  • On a long ride Choose a highway-related category — such as “semi-trucks,” “red cars,” “fast-food restaurant signs” or “billboards” — but don’t reveal it to anyone. Next, count out loud each time you spot the object, letting your kids guess the category. The correct guesser takes over by coming up with a new category and starting the game again.

In the Grocery Store   If your kids aren’t old enough to help you find items on your list, these games will keep them entertained, learning and bonding with you.

  • For children old enough to count Engage her in a guessing or number game. Ask her to figure out which items in your cart add up to $10. Have her guess how many people will be in line, how many minutes it will take to get through the checkout or how much is the total amount of the bill. If your child can also read, turn the tables and let her quiz you! Have her read the nutrition label on a box of, say, cereal, and ask you how many grams of protein, fiber and sugar it contains. She’ll get a kick out of being the quizzer and telling you whether you’re right or wrong. (This also opens the door for you to slip in mini-lessons on nutrition.)
  • For toddlers A simple hiding game is enough to keep a little one’s attention. Pick out an item from your list, take it off the shelf and then together, find a place to hide it — behind boxes or cans — in another aisle. Throughout your shopping trip, remind your little guy about the secret place that only the two of you know about. If he can talk, ask him questions about it: What color is the box? When do we eat this kind of food? Check back periodically to see if the item is still hidden. Finally, place the item in your cart before you check out.

At the Dinner Table Besides being fun, a game at mealtime gives you a little extra face time with your kids. “Entertainment is an incentive for them to stay at the table, and inevitably, it opens up the channels of conversation,” says Copeland. You needn’t spend the entire meal playing games; play one each night as a dinner icebreaker, and your kids are more likely to chat and share toward the end of the meal.

Here are a few games to try:

  • Word of mouth A version of the old favorite telephone, this game starts with someone mouthing a sentence to the person across the table about what they did today. That person must then say aloud what they think their table mate said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, the person gets it wrong, but it doesn’t matter — each guess usually ends in a good laugh, and you get to hear about some part of a family member’s day you might not have talked about otherwise,” she adds.
  • Creative round robin Copeland likes creative storytelling games because they allow imaginations to run wild and help sharpen your memory — a bonus for kids and adults. To play, start a story with a general and true phrase, such as “I saw a dog today.” Then go around the table and have each family member contribute, repeating the previous sentences before they add on their own. Encourage everyone to be as silly as they like.
  • Would you rather Go around the table, and have each person ask another family member a question that starts with “Would you rather …?” The questions can be on any topic, serious or not. Even suggest different rounds, such as one that’s goofy (Would you rather have floppy clown feet or big Mickey Mouse ears?), one that’s more serious (Would you rather vacation by the beach or in the mountains?) or one that’s gross (Would you rather eat ants or monkey brains?). Encourage the responder to explain the logic behind the answer, and you’ll get rare insight.

After all, isn’t it better to at least discover why someone prefers monkey brains than only hearing that school was “fine”?


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 06-02-2014 to 06-08-2014

Last updated on June 19th, 2014 at 10:15 pm

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 20 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Teens and the Cold Water Challenge:  Parents Beware! Hypothermia can kill and kids are drowning!  http://t.co/feCXwrwoLa