Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-09-2015 to 02-15-2015

Last updated on February 25th, 2015 at 10:47 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 10 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Bulky coats and child safety seats don’t mix  http://t.co/ZRNGQiYJ1I

Children and Choking: Prevention and What to Do

Last updated on September 4th, 2015 at 09:00 pm

Child CPR

the Heimlich maneuver

Recently, in the classes I have been teaching there has been an overwhelming amount of questions regarding choking in children and how to prevent it and what to do when it happens?  With choking being one of the top 5 killers of children in the United States, there is never a bad time to cover choking in children and what we as parents and caregivers can do to prevent and deal with the situation.

Let’s face it, children choke on almost anything.  If you have children or are a caregiver to children then you know that children love to put new things into their mouths and taste test everything and the younger the child, the more stuff they will put in there without any regard for what it might be.   The questions of how to prevent choking in children has a lot to do with age.  What I tell new parents or soon to be parents and grandparents are to go home.  This may sound silly but home is where the battlefield is.  I tell them to go home and see their home from a new perspective.  We as adults see the world from very high up, our perspective tends to make us look down on most things in our homes.  A small child or infant will see the home from an entirely different perspective looking up at most things in the home.  So what I recommend to the adults is to go home and lie down on the floor in every room and see what an infant might see.   It’s a whole new world down there with things like splinters under wood furniture, nail heads or staples sticking out, strings from fabrics, and the most important thing of all being that the infant or small child will find everything you have lost under all your furniture, including pills, paperclips, popcorn, you name it.   So as I said before, go home and gain a child’s perspective on your home.

Preventing choking in older children has mainly to do with food and how it is prepared and eaten.   We have all said “don’t stuff your face” or “chew your food “a thousand times, but the preparation is where we can make a significant difference.   What I tell parents is to cut, cut and cut again.  With foods like hot dogs, grapes, fruit and many other solid foods, cutting beforehand is the key.   Other, lesser known culprits like popcorn, peanuts and even cereals can be broken down by simply putting them in a bag beforehand and crushing them a little bit to break them down.

What to do when the choking begins are the most important and the most frightening, but thinking is the key.

Baby CPRIf you have an infant that starts choking at home, the first step should be to bring the infant to you by taking them out of whatever apparatus they are in at the moment, highchair or bouncer for example.  Secondly, you should scream for anyone you are with to call 911 and inform them of a choking infant, or you may have to bring baby to the phone and call 911 while relieving the choking yourself.   Even if the choking was sudden and the event ends right away, at least help is on the way.   The third thing should be to be seated and position the infant face down with the legs straddling your arm and your hand on the infants jaw, all while keeping the baby’s head pointed down in order to use gravity should anything come out or loose.  You will use the palm of your free hand to strike down, but towards the head of the infant, between the shoulder blades 5 times. Then you will put your free hand on the back of the baby’s head and sandwich the baby and flip them over to your other leg and then place your two fingers between the baby’s nipples and do 5 chest compressions or chest thrusts. You will repeat this until the object is removed, the baby starts breathing, or the baby becomes unconscious.

Should the baby go unresponsive, lie the baby down on a hard, flat surface and begin cpr on the baby.

Choking for the older child is much the same as choking for an adult, just on a smaller scale.  If you notice an older child that appears to be choking, you can ask them “are you choking? “ and if given confirmation that they are choking then you will kneel down behind the child, so you can be roughly the same height, and use the Heimlich maneuver, (see the picture at the top of the page) the same one you use on adults, to relieve the choking.  If it is unsuccessful and the older child becomes unresponsive then lay the child down on a hard, flat surface and begin cpr.

The most important times in this event are the identification of choking, the sooner the better, and the call to 911, again the sooner the better.  There are a million things anyone can choke on and our homes are where most of the action takes place so please take a little time and do some prevention work around our homes and as always, I recommend taking an official American Heart Association CPR class in your area that will cover the CPR and choking (click here to find a course) and give you ample practice time so you can be better prepared.

Thank you and be safe.

Taking Time to Celebrate Your Non Allergic Child

Last updated on August 29th, 2015 at 05:18 pm

Its funny how having a child with food allergies suddenly changes every aspect of your life. You no longer have the ability to be spontaneous- every meal, every trip and every outing has to be planned to a certain degree. Foods are checked and double checked and when one person in the family has food allergies, the rest of the family is a part of it too. But while you are trying to keep up with everyone’s safety, you also need to keep up with everyone’s individuality as well.

Jules - smallEverybody needs a little one-on-one time and this is especially true when you have children that have an allergic sibling. Being able to disconnect from the world of food allergies is important- it’s wonderful to be educated about their brother’s or sister’s allergies but it’s not their responsibility to be expected to live within the food allergy shadow. Let them understand food allergies, let them learn to help, educate and keep others safe but also let them see the rest of the world through their eyes as well.

As difficult as it may be to find the time, it is important to make sure that each child gets that bonding time as an individual. Is it possible, even in today’s hustle and bustle? Yes!

  • Give special time  Create something that is special for that child- this could be a phrase that you use when you say good night, it could be a certain way of hugging or even a favorite story that you read together. Chances are that these memories will be part of routines that your children will share with their children in the future.
  • Quality, not quantity  In reality, we all understand that plans tend to change beyond our control. Don’t dwell on how much time you put aside for each child but do make an effort to utilize the time that you do have focused on them (not your phone, not your computer, not even your spouse).
  • Remember to praise  Children respond to positive feedback more than negative feedback so tell them they make you proud! Make a small fuss (or a big one), hang up that picture of the cat with three heads and declare that moment in time as stupendous. Your child will shine and they should be encouraged too.
  • Take time off, alone  Nothing shows your child’s personality more than time alone with you- truly alone. Parents often don’t get to see that sparkle when their child talks around other siblings- they can tend to feel overpowered or not as important to be heard. A great example is when I was able to spend two days with my daughter while dad and son went away- I saw a side of my daughter that made me realize I need to do more with her (aka girl’s time out) details here.
  • Laugh  Laughter is the easiest way to stay close to your child, always. Studies have shown that laughing reduces stress, releases endorphins (what makes you feel good), lowers your blood pressure and (the best thing of all) it’s FREE! Not sold? Next time your non allergic child is showing signs of allergy-overload tickle away and see how much a good belly aching laughter session clears the mood.

Me and Jules - smallerFood allergies can be stressful for any family but they don’t have to be. With proper knowledge, sharing of experiences and family-oriented cooking segments, food allergies can be used as something to bring everyone together during the process. Just as food allergies can be unique, your children are too. Remember to be as vigilant with your affection as you are with your safekeeping. Being safe is doing a job right but showing love is being an accomplished parent.

The SpongeBob Movie is Sensory Friendly this Saturday!

Last updated on March 24th, 2015 at 10:26 pm

Sensory-Friendly-Films-logoOnce a month, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and with other special needs “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their favorite “family-friendly” films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

The-SpongeBob-MovieDoes it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

On Valentine’s Day, Saturday February 14th, at 10am local time, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water will be screened as part of the Autism Society “Sensory Friendly Movie Screenings” program. Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming March 28thHome

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Editor’s note: Although The SpongeBob Movie  has been chosen by the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for mild action and rude humor. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-02-2015 to 02-08-2015

Last updated on February 12th, 2015 at 10:42 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 10 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
What Causes Girls to Enter Puberty Early? http://t.co/hrmNaE2kY4 Stress and obesity are likely culprits

How To Save Your Child From Drowning

Last updated on February 18th, 2015 at 03:53 pm

Throw a life preserverAfter learning I work in water safety, a man told me about how he saved a man from drowning in Hawaii.  Several families were exploring tide pools on the lava rocks and a wave swept one man into the water, about 4 feet below the rocks.  The waves were wild, pounding the victim against the sharp lava as he was tossed in the churning water.  Anyone who had jumped in to help him would have ended up in the same helpless position, so there would have been more than one victim and probably multiple deaths.  Everyone was forced to watch the victim drown, including his wife and two young daughters.  Fortunately, the man telling me the story had been a Boy Scout and had learned how to rescue someone safely.  He tied beach towels together, lay on his stomach and put the makeshift rope over the side.  By this time the victim was losing strength and was bleeding badly from multiple cuts.  He couldn’t grab the rope.  The rescuer finally starting yelling at him (in strong and rather pointed language) that he absolutely could not let his daughters watch him die.  A couple of lucky waves pushed the victim against the rope and he grabbed one knot.  Another lucky wave swept him up to the next knot, and slowly they got the victim onto the rocks to safely.

This is not an isolated incident.  I see too many stories like this, where the would-be rescuer also dies, or a parent goes in to save a child and either both die, or just as often, the parent dies and the child is rescued by someone else.  It doesn’t have to be like this.

Take the time to learn how to rescue someone safely, and teach your children. 

The rule is REACH. THROW. GO.

  • REACH for the person using a pole, knotted towels, an oar, anything that the drowning person can grab hold of so you can pull them to safety.
  • THROW something that floats to the drowning person.  A life ring.  An empty gallon jug.  A thermos chest.  A flotation cushion.  A tree log.  Don’t throw it at them, just near them, you don’t want to knock them unconscious.  Throw anything that floats so they can conserve their strength and try to kick back to safety.  Look around, there is a growing movement to have life rings or flotation tubes near open water.  Kauai  and on the River Thames in the UK are leaders in this area, and yes, they have saved many lives.
  • GO!  Run for help!  If you are anywhere near a lifeguard, there is only a 1 in 18 million chance the person will die from drowning because lifeguards are the best insurance going.  If you aren’t near a lifeguard, run for more help or for something to reach or throw.  Call 911.  And when you are teaching your child these things, remind them ALWAYS call for an adult.

For my money, the Boy Scouts of America have the best in basic ‘how to rescue someone’ materials.  Although I come from, and have, a Scouting family, you don’t have to join, you can find out what the basic requirements are for swimming and lifesaving by looking at their merit badge requirements online.  Click here for swimming merit badge requirements.  Click here for lifesaving merit badge requirements.  The rule in my family is you have to be able to pass every requirement before the swimming lessons stop.  It’s not for the badge (though my son earned his), it’s because these badges summarize one of the most basic life skills you can have.  The Boy Scouts do water safety extremely well. 

A final word about the Hawaii drowning scare. There were signs cautioning of the danger of being swept overboard.  I realize the U.S. is so lawsuit crazy that we have signs for everything, meaning we all ignore most of them, but let me be clear, water safety is grossly underfunded.  If there is a sign warning of danger in an area where there is open water, I guarantee the danger already happened.  There is too much water and too little money to just be planting signs around.  If there is a sign, there is a reason.