Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 06-30-2014 to 07-06-2014

Last updated on July 17th, 2014 at 09:55 am

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 25 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
With More Kids Playing at Home During Summer, Gun Safety Must Be Top Priority
70% of kids <10 knew where their parents stored their guns – even when hidden

Drowning: What Every Parent NEEDS to Know!

Last updated on November 3rd, 2018 at 05:25 pm

The news has been full of stories of secondary drowning lately. I’ve had a number of parents ask me about secondary drowning, and finally was asked the big question, ‘so what is drowning?’

Boy on slide in water parkToday I’m going to talk about what drowning really means, how to recognize if someone is drowning, and I’m going to explain why drowning is one of the most preventable causes of death and injury and what you can do to keep your child safer around water for their entire life. It’s a long article, but probably the most important article I’ve written on the subject, so please stick with me.

There are a number of terms out there for drowning, including: secondary drowning; dry drowning; near drowning. The number of terms is misleading and has even led to confusion amongst medical professionals, but officially* there is only one term that should be used and only one term you need to know – drowning.

Drowning is a process. One outcome of the process of drowning is death, but during the approximately 10 minutes it takes for someone to die from drowning, the brain is being deprived of oxygen and permanent damage can occur. Brain damage starts to occur within 5 minutes of the brain not receiving oxygen.

Contrary to common opinion, the most severe complications or death from drowning are not caused by water filling the lungs. The biggest problem in drowning is oxygen not getting to the brain.

Think of it this way – being under water is the same as being in outer space. If you can’t breathe oxygen, you will die.

The process of drowning is serious and should be taken seriously by parents, lifeguards, and communities. In minor drowning cases, even just small amounts (less than a tablespoon) of water getting into the lungs can cause problems. If someone has had their mouth or nose covered by water, either being under water or just having water forced into the mouth, like on a water slide, and they are now having trouble breathing, they should go to the emergency department. Most of these patients are going to survive and be fine. Many of us have had the experience of “choking” or “gagging” on water that goes down the wrong pipe while drinking something. These protective reflexes are the same as what we see in someone who is drowning.

If the coughing or choking or gagging on water is present more than a couple minutes after your child exits the water, they should be taken to the emergency department. If your child is choking, has foam coming out of their mouth or ANY difficulty breathing up to 3 hours after exiting the water, they should be taken to the emergency department immediately. And remember, when you go to the emergency department, make sure you tell the doctor that your child’s breathing trouble started after they were in or around water, because even a small amount of water can be the trigger for the breathing problem and is an indication of drowning.

IMPORTANT: If a child’s (or adult’s) mouth or nose was covered in water and they are having trouble breathing or are coughing for more than a few minutes, you need to get them to the emergency department immediately, because they are drowning.

There are two primary ways to recognize if someone is drowning.

  • The first is continuous coughing, foam at the mouth, or any difficulty breathing if the mouth or nose was covered by water at any point. This sign of drowning occurs when the face is no longer in the water.
  • When someone is still in the water, the most immediate way of recognizing they are drowning is that they may look like they are climbing a ladder. Their head is just below the surface, they are vertical in the water, they are probably looking upright and their arms may be moving as if they are climbing a ladder. It is silent. No yelling. If someone is yelling for help, they may be out of their depth and you should call a lifeguard for help, but it’s the silent ones who are in the most trouble and need immediate aid. (see: Parents…Do You Know What Drowning Looks Like?? ) If someone is pulled from the water in this situation, always get them to the emergency department immediately.

What about the children who do not die of drowning immediately?

First the good news – if your child is having trouble breathing and you take them to the emergency department, especially within the first 2-3 hours, one large study shows that only only 20% of those children needed additional hospitalization and the death rate of those children was only 1:200,000. If you act fast and get medical help as soon as possible, there is a good chance your child will recover completely.

little girl and nurse in ambulance.finalNow the scary news – According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), for every child that dies from drowning, another five need emergency medical care and 50% of those children need additional care. Many suffer some degree of permanent brain damage, like Samuel Morris. Brain damage can occur after only five minutes without oxygen. Again, drowning is very serious, so if your child was in or around water and is having trouble breathing, get them to the emergency department immediately and make sure you tell the hospital staff that the breathing difficulty started after your child was in or around water.

The best news I have is that drowning is almost always preventable. Teaching water safety and swimming can be lifetime vaccines against drowning.

The most important things you can do in the short-term are:

  • Learn basic water safety – how to act safely around water and how to recognize dangers;
  • Be aware of the dangers;
  • Watch your child whenever they are around water, if they are young or not strong swimmers, be in the water with them within arm’s reach, and never leave them alone in the bath. You are your child’s primary lifeguard.;
  • Install an approved pool fence
  • Empty buckets, decorative ponds and wading pools when they aren’t in use;
  • Never rely on inflatable devices to keep your child safe; and
  • Learn CPR. Not hands-only CPR to the Staying Alive song, but child CPR, because every child and every drowning victim needs oxygen, and only traditional breathing-and-compression CPR will deliver the necessary oxygen.

To provide your child with lifelong protection from drowning:

  • Start teaching your child about water safety from the time they are babies, and don’t stop talking about water safety until they are grown;
  • Teach your children to swim from a very early age. The American Red Cross starts infants (and their parents) in parent-and-me classes at 6 months. A number of organizations provide swimming lessons at no or reduced cost, so don’t let economics keep you from protecting your child; and
  • Don’t avoid being near water with your child or teach your child to be afraid water. Fear leads to panic, which can lead to poor decisions or walking into danger unknowingly. Knowledge leads to respect and safe actions. Knowledge is power. Empower your child to make the right decisions around water.

Thanks for sticking with me to the end. Now, I have one favor. Please share this information. If you learned even one new thing in this article, share the link on your social media or with your friends and relatives. Ask your local newspaper or TV station to spread the word. Drowning is greatly misunderstood and is still a hidden global epidemic, but if we all work together to spread accurate information, we can make all of our children safer. It takes a village.


* Since 2005, it was agreed upon by all major agencies, including the World Health Organization, American Red Cross, American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, that there is only one term that should be used, drowning. Again, drowning is a process. One possible outcome of drowning is ‘fatal drowning’ or death, which can happen in as little as 10 minutes. Another possible outcome of drowning is referred to as ‘non-fatal drowning’, and can encompass the full range of injury from mild and temporary complications to severe and permanent brain damage. This brain damage can begin in as little as 5 minutes. The last possible outcome from the process of drowning is, unofficially, ‘no lasting damage’, which is the best possible outcome and more likely if you know the signs and take basic precautions.

Many thanks to:

  • Dr. Justin Sempsrott who provided invaluable expertise and assistance for today’s article. Dr. Sempsrott is the Executive Director of Lifeguards Without Borders, Medical Director of Starfish Aquatics Institute, and is a Clinical Instructor in Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest University.
  • Dr. Linda Quan, Seattle Children’s Hospital for reviewing and validating the facts included in this article. Dr. Quan is a Member of Aquatics Subcouncil and Vice-Chair of Scientific Advisory Council of the American Red Cross

Advice to Prepare for a Lost Child at Amusement Parks

Last updated on July 6th, 2017 at 11:53 pm

Kids having fun on a carnival CarouselA neighbor and I were recently sharing stories about past family trips to Disney World when she described her strategies for dealing with the possibility of a lost child at the amusement park. While we had both experienced anxiety about the idea of losing a precious little one, Pamela was much more organized and forward-thinking than I had been. But perhaps that was because she had 3 kids in tow under the age of 7 and was part of an extended family group, including a total of 8 over-excited kiddos!

To help in the event of a lost child, each morning she lined all the children up against a wall and took individual full-length photos of each child with her cell phone so she could describe what any one of them was wearing that day. As she said, “It’s impossible to keep track of who’s got what on over several days.” Additionally, when they first arrived, she wrote her cell phone number on the inside of each child’s shirt with a Sharpie (“As a mom, I always travel with a Sharpie,” she told me). What good advice! I wished I had thought to do the same when my son was younger, and it got me wondering what other suggestions there are for dealing with the possibility of losing a child in a large place like an amusement park.

So here’s a summary of what I found – a great deal of good advice and strategies to use this summer at water or amusement parks – or anywhere you and your little ones find large crowds enjoying the great summer weather.

Talk before you walk. Impress upon your kids the reasons for sticking with the group and how to stay together – like always holding hands, paying attention to what mom and dad are wearing, etc. But prepare and discuss in advance a plan should someone get separated – like meeting at an identified location (if your children are old enough and confident about finding the spot), knowing where the “lost children” center is in the park you are visiting, or telling your child to find someone to help if he’s lost.

NOTE: Current advice now says to tell your child to ask for help from a mommy with little children, rather than a (often male) security guard/someone with a badge and uniform, since it is almost unheard of for a woman to be a predator and badges can be faked.

Mark your precious cargo. You can use a Sharpie on clothing like my friend Pamela did, but don’t use it directly on your child’s skin as these markers contain chemicals that are industrial solvents. You can write on other items like rubber bracelets or name tags, but be sure to use waterproof markers to avoid smearing that valuable information. Also, you can now get temporary tattoos – like Safety Tat – customized with your phone number or a child’s health information, which might make safety planning more effective and fun for the kids.

Description prescription. If you’ve ever lost a child (guilty!) you know the first thing the authorities ask is “What is your child wearing.” And they aren’t just looking for an answer like: “Uh, a t-shirt and cargo shorts…I think?” Each day of a vacation could you recall what color and design of shirt, shorts, socks and shoes each or your kids is wearing? And did they have sunglasses or a hat? A bag? Certainly one popular way to address this issue is to dress everyone in the group alike (or at least the kids). But it can be tough to get enough CLEAN versions of the same clothes – so that’s why I like my friend, Pamela’s, daily photo shoot.

Happy 4th of July!

Homework? Conference Calls? Tips for Working-at-Home Success

Last updated on March 2nd, 2018 at 02:06 pm

Woman With Baby Working From HomeGenerations ago, staying home with the kids meant a life of housework and homework. Today, it’s likely to include conference calls, invoicing and paychecks, as more women discover the perks of being a work-at-home mom. If you’ve been considering starting your own home-based business, here are seven important tips to keep in mind.

1. Find the right job. If you already have a career in mind, or your current boss has agreed to a telecommuting arrangement, then lucky you! But if you’re not sure what sort of at-home job to pursue, do some research to find a good match for your interests and skills. Websites such as, and are excellent resources for “mompreneurs.”

Among the many home-based business options available today are virtual call center and office assistant jobs, social media management, catalog sales, blogging and data entry. Or consider turning a hobby you love, such as photography or jewelry making, into a career.

2. Beware of scams. Steer clear of any company that asks for an up-front fee (although virtual call centers do require a small payment for background checks). Work-at-home expert Christine Durst, co-founder of, also warns against clicking links on Facebook threads from people promising business opportunities (“Earn $7,000 a month!”). These are usually recruiters from shady pyramid scheme companies.

3. Know the costs. Depending on your line of work, you’ll probably need to invest in supplies such as shipping materials or software upgrades. Do your homework before you begin to make sure your new job won’t break your budget. If your start-up costs are high, look into options such as small business loans or even a crowdfunding campaign.

And it may take a while before you see a profit, so set aside enough savings to see you through the lean times. “There’s a real misconception out there that you can slap up a blog or start doing direct sales and money will pour in,” says Kelly Land, founder of “Ask yourself: Can I do this around my current job so I’ll still have an income, or is there another source of income to keep us going while I do this?”

4. Take your job seriously. Just because you’re not putting on high heels in the morning doesn’t mean you’re not working. Set regular hours and stick to them, even if it means letting the housework slide or putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your home office door.

5. Have a child care plan. While the point of being a WAHM is being there for your kids, it still pays to have a good support system just in case. A trusted sitter, loving grandparents or a reliable friend can be a lifesaver when you’re dealing with deadlines and a restless toddler all at once.

6. Be prepared to lose sleep. Between work responsibilities and kids’ activity schedules, many work-at-home moms find that their work day is a lot longer than the eight-hour norm. “Getting up before everyone and staying up later was the only way I could stay on track and get things accomplished,” says Land. “A lot of times, I’d just nap when the kids did.”

7. Find time to unwind. Running a business and a family can be stressful, so don’t forget to put some “me” time in your day. “For me, gaming is how I relieve stress,” says Land. “I have one friend who goes out and weeds when things get crazy, and another who can’t live without her weekly facial.”

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 06-23-2014 to 06-29-2014

Last updated on July 14th, 2014 at 02:06 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:
Cyberbullied Teens Can Connect Online, In Person to Get Help Fantastic Resource!!