Spring Break By the Water? Boat Safety Tips You Need to Know

Travel of children on water in the boatAs this middle of the school year is upon us, so too is spring break.  Spring break is a popular time to travel or to just stay home and spend time with the family.  Many families choose to spend time on the water.  Here in south Florida, and I am guessing everywhere there is accessible water, the activity level on the water gets very busy during spring break and with an increased level in boating, comes an increased level of emergencies, most of which can be avoided.  If you are planning to head out on the water this spring break season, please take the proper precautions.

Here is a list of the most common things we see when emergencies happen on the water:

  1. Please have a working knowledge of how to operate a water craft before heading out. The first time you operate your new boat or jet-ski should not be on a major water holiday with your family on board.
  2. Your water craft should be checked before putting it in the water. You don’t want to get stuck in the ocean with no gas, a radio that does not work, and no lights.  Please do not boat at night unless you are an experienced boater.
  3. There are coast guard regulations as to what specific items may be required in your state, such as life jackets or flares, so make sure to have all the necessary gear. Every passenger should be wearing life jackets!  ESPECIALLY KIDS!
  4. No texting and driving. This is not just a slogan for cars.  This applies to watercraft as well.   Texting and boating is being linked to more and more boating accidents.
  5. No drinking and driving. This is linked to more water accidents than anything else.  I get it, it’s a holiday, you are enjoying yourself, but save the drinking for when you get to where you are going and have a designated driver if you have to drink.  By the way boating under the influence or (BUI) is the same as DUI in many states so something else to think about before drinking and driving on the water.
  6. And finally: Slow Down! Boats can go just as fast as cars, are just as deadly as cars, and are 10 times harder to control.  Please slow down and enjoy the ride and make sure you and your crew arrive and enjoy your time together.

There are many more things that go into boating safety.  The bottom line is that most or all of the things we commonly see causing emergencies on the water are preventable and should be done beforehand or decided on before leaving the dock.

Please be safe and have a great spring break!

Budgeting for a Family with Food Allergies

Food allergies can cause a strain on families in many ways but very often I hear how people find it difficult Produce Reduced sign2to stay on budget while purchasing their allergy-friendly food items. All of us want to feed our families safely but trying to make ends meet is a natural part of each family’s costs. For the most part, allergy-friendly food products are higher in price, can be more difficult to find in your average grocery store and although online ordering is available, shipping costs and extra credit card use can discourage people from stocking up on the foods that they truly need to have inside of their kitchens.

As a mother and primary food shopper of our household, there are some money saving tips that may be useful for your situation. Obviously, everyone has a different allergy situation and a different budget goal but in general, having options is helpful when we have to start scrimping and saving. Here are some simple ways to consider adding to your budgeting plan:

  1. Become very, VERY friendly with your local stores– Many stores have certain days or specific times of the day that they will begin to mark down foods, including fruits & veggies. These are all items that can be taken home, frozen or cooked right away (or cook then freeze for later use). It may seem like a lot of work but in the end, you are cooking ahead for meals and it often teaches you how to utilize what you have in new ways.
  2. Look in bargain outlets/stores– Dollar stores, health food stores, places likes Big Lots, etc. will stock allergy-friendly items from time to time as well as have markdown sales. Pair up the sales with a printable coupon that you may get from a product website and you can stock up.
  3. Store discount rack– My local health food store usually has a grocery cart right when you walk in – I always go through it. The food stores I frequent also have markdown displays near the cashiers and somewhat “hidden” deep discount shelves- these are the places that I look at first. If you are unsure if the store has one, inquire at the customer service desk. Click here to see an example of what we have in our store.
  4. No discount rack? Ask– If your favorite stores don’t have a markdown section, ask them if they have any items that they may want to just get rid of. If you can negotiate, they may even be willing to give you what they have left at a big discount just to get rid of it.
  5. Churches & Organizations– Do you belong to a church or other organization? Many have food pantries & you can request specific allergy-friendly items be donated. There is no harm or shame in asking for help when you need it. Just try to repay the favor down the road if someone else is asking too.
  6. Free food– whenever someone asks, always say yes- Even when it’s an item you cannot use. These are foods that you can donate back to your church or organization. You may also be able to take these unopened items back to the original store without a receipt to exchange them at the store for items that you can use. Always ask stores about their return policies.
  7. Contact companies directly– Try, always try. You may not get a free item but you may get a coupon that can be used later with a sale. Often companies are happy to send you something to try.
  8. Contact me- I am always available to help whomever needs it. I am a food allergy mother just like so many of you. I was there from the beginning stages of my son’s food allergy My Stocked Pantrydiagnosis to now where cooking and food shopping are my life (in a good way). I encourage everyone to always reach out to me to see if I can help you and your family in some way. Sometimes having a different person’s point of view and ideas creates an entirely different perspective for our own situation. Whether it be a peronal food allergy consultation, needing recipe ideas or even just a place to find a laugh when you really, really need it I invite you to visit me at AllergyPhoods and any of my other media sites.

Don’t let food allergies diminish your budgeting skills- embrace it as a challenge to increase your family’s pantry and decrease your monthly spending. Don’t get discouraged if there are months that save just pennies on the dollar- for each of those months, you will very likely have extraordinary months or weeks that will offset that. Every cent counts but having a supply of safe foods for your family’s allergies counts even more.

Study: Low Birthweight Babies Catch up by Puberty

Low-birthweight-babies-catchup

Babies who gain weight slowly will catch up with their peers by the age of 13, according to the BBC News website. The reassuring report comes with advice from researchers for parents not to over-compensate by increasing their child’s calorie intake.

The news is based on analysis of long-term research, which began in the 1990s, into a host of health issues. The analysis looked at children with poor weight gain during infancy (failure to thrive) and whether this led to long-term problems as a child grew older.

  • It found that on average, babies who had poor weight gain as infants achieved more-or-less average heights and weights by 13 years. However, their growth was a bit lower than their peers. Babies with later weight gain problems gained weight steadily to the age of 13 years.
  • Generally, these babies with low-weight problems went on to have slightly lower weight and height as teenagers, compared with teenagers who did not have growth problems in the first nine months of life. Overall, measurements were within the normal range expected for age.

It is worth noting that the study cannot prove that this will be the case for all children, partly because it is unclear how many of the babies received nutritional or medical interventions and due to problems collecting all the data on all of the children. Despite this, the study’s results appear both reliable and reassuring.

Parents may naturally be concerned if their baby is underweight, but this study would suggest low birthweight (at least in the developed world) has little effect in later life.

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from the KP Agricultural University in Pakistan and the University of Bristol in the UK.

One of the researchers received funding from three baby food manufactures: Pfizer Nutrition, Danone, and Plum Baby. As the study did not discuss the potential benefits (or harms) of baby food, this does not appear to represent a conflict of interests.

The original cohort study (The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) was funded by the Wellcome Trust, the UK Medical Research Council and the University of Bristol. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Pediatrics.

The story was covered appropriately by BBC News.

What kind of research was this?

This was an analysis of data from a previously conducted large UK cohort study.

The researchers investigated the growth outcomes of children at the age of 13 years. They then compared these in children who had poor weight gain (early or late) in the first nine months of life and those who had normal growth.

Large cohort studies are the best way to follow outcomes over time and are usually designed to be representative of the population (in this case, babies born in the former county of Avon). Cohort studies such as this avoid the bias of relying on referred samples of children with failure to thrive.

However, a practical drawback of cohort studies is that because they often run for long periods of time, follow-up can be difficult for participants and researchers.

What did the research involve?

Researchers used data on 11,499 children who were part of a large Bristol-based study in the 1990s, called The Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

Children were excluded from the study if they had a major congenital abnormality likely to affect growth (such as cerebral palsy), were twins or triplets, were born pre-term (less than 37 weeks gestation), or were born post-term (more than 42 weeks gestation), or if any data on them was missing. Babies with extreme weight measurements were also excluded.

To determine weight gain in the first nine months of life, weight measurements were taken at birth, six to eight weeks (which ranged from one to three months) and at nine months (which ranged from six to 12 months).

These weight measurements were then converted into ‘weight scores’ that took into consideration age and gender by using a growth reference chart.

Growth was measured by calculating the difference in the ‘weight scores’ between two time points (birth to eight weeks, and eight weeks to nine months). The researchers adjusted their results for gender, age and the initial weight of the baby when it was born.

The researchers then looked at the following recorded growth measurements of each included child:

  • weight and height from the age of 9 months up to 13 years
  • body mass index (BMI) at 7, 10 and 13 years
  • mid-arm circumference at 7, 10 and 13 years
  • waist circumference at 7, 10 and 13 years

Babies who had difficulties putting on weight and had weight gain in the lowest 5% of normal weight gains for age were compared to babies who had normal weight gain at each time interval of the study and at 13 years.

What were the basic results?

Of the 11,499 children with weight data available, 507 were considered to have ‘early’ weight gain problems (in the period from birth to eight weeks of age) and 480 were considered to have ‘late’ weight problems (in the period from eight weeks to nine months of age). The main results of this study were:

  • Those identified as having early weight gain problems had improved weight gain in the period eight weeks to two years, and after that gained weight at the same rate as control infants who gained normal weight throughout the first nine months of life.
  • By the age of 13 years, children identified as having early weight gain problems had similar measurements for BMI, arm circumference and waist circumference.
  • The children identified as having late weight gain problems (in the period from eight weeks to nine months) showed a steady, slower weight increase up the age of 13 years.
  • These children with late weight gain problems only had enhanced weight gain compared to the controls in the period between seven and 10 years.
  • The cases identified as having late weight gain problems remained slightly lighter and shorter compared to controls at the age of 13 years.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers conclude that children with weight problems before eight weeks showed a different pattern of ‘catch up’ compared to babies with weight problems between eight weeks and nine months of age. They say that infants with early weight gain problems ‘caught-up’ in weight at the age of two years, but that height gain was achieved more slowly.

The researchers say that growth outcomes of babies with weight problems were not significantly different to babies considered to have normal weight gain, but that babies with initial weight problems tended to be shorter and lighter.

In discussing the research findings, the lead researcher, Professor Alan Emond, is reported as saying ‘the findings highlight the importance of monitoring a baby’s weight and height gain during the first few weeks and months, but not creating anxiety with parents of slow growing babies.’ He added that ‘in the past, a lot of parents have been caused a lot of unnecessary anxiety by health professionals and this is a positive and reassuring message.’

Conclusion

Overall, this study provides some evidence that babies considered to have growth problems in the first nine months of life have similar growth measurements at the age of 13 years when compared to baby’s considered not to have growth problems in the first nine months of life.

This study has some limitations worth noting that may limit the overall validity of its findings:

  • The researchers report there was a large amount of missing data, with some outcome measurements only available for 44% of those measured at the age of 13 years. Reassuringly however, there was no difference between missing data between groups.
  • No data is reported for growth up the age of 18, so findings cannot be translated to children above the age of 13, when children are still growing.
  • It is also not known which babies received nutritional or medical interventions if they were identified as having early growth problems, which limits the study findings.

Despite these limitations, this study provides reassuring news for parents overall.

If you are worried that your child is underweight then seek advice from your GP.

Analysis by Bazian. Edited by NHS Choices. Follow Behind the Headlines on Twitter.

Summary

Babies who gain weight slowly will catch up with their peers by the age of 13, according to the BBC News website. The reassuring report comes with advice from researchers for parents not to over-compensate.

Links to Headlines

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Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 02-15-2016 to 02-21-2016

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Health News: Early Behavior Therapy Found to Aid Children With A.D.H.D. https://t.co/VHXPlGbq4W

Welcome 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:
All UK Porn sites must make users prove they’re >18 years old or face fines up to £250k
https://t.co/l0aD1Cdlge (apparently NOT an impossible task)

Zoolander 2 is Sensory Friendly Tomorrow Courtesy of AMC

AMC Entertainment (AMC) has expanded their Sensory Friendly Films program, in partnership with the Autism Society!  This Tuesday evening, families affected by autism or other special needs have the opportunity to view a sensory friendly screening of Zoolander 2, a film that may appeal to older audiences on the autism spectrum. 

New sensory friendly logoAs always, 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.

Zoolander-2-posterDoes 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“.

AMC and the Autism Society will be showing Zoolander 2 tomorrow, Tuesday, February 23rd at 7pm (local time). 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 in March: London Has Fallen (Tues, 3/8), Zootopia (Sat, 3/12 and 3/26), The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Part 1 (Tues, 3/22)

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Editor’s note: Although Zoolander 2 has been chosen by the Autism Society for a Tuesday Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong lanaguage. 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.

Keeping You and Your Family Safe From “Free Roaming” Dogs

Father and toddler feeding and walking with dogMany years ago, my sister had told me that while out walking her small young pup (A shih Tzu/Bichon mix) near my Mom’s house, a huge Mastiff came flying out of a house and ran straight for them. Her initial reaction was one that many of us would have…. Protect the one you love… so she grabbed Sylvi off the ground and used her own body to block the huge dog from getting to her.

I had not heard much more on this subject until recently…. but in the past few months, I have heard it quite a bit. My sister called me for advice on how to respond to some recent articles in her neighborhood newspaper about unleashed aggressive dogs in the neighborhood, that come flying out at people walking by with their dogs or kids. A friend of mine stepped in when a dog viciously went after her dog, and she ended up getting severely bitten in the process. And yet another instance where my friend’s 7 year old daughter was playing in her own front yard and a medium sized stray went after her. She only got a scratch, but that was because luckily, her Dad was right inside and chased the dog away… or it would have been much worse! But the most difficult part of this is that this little girl, who loved all animals, is now a bit fearful of dogs.

Let’s face it, having to be on guard the entire time is anything BUT relaxing!… so how do you handle it when a strange dog comes flying at you, your child, or your dog while you are just out for a nice relaxing stroll?

I have heard many different solutions to this problem… for example, some recommend carrying mace or pepper spray at all times. The problem I find with this is that for it to be effective, the dog has to be right up on you already.  At that point, the spray may lessen the damage they do, but is not going to thwart the attack. The other danger to this is that you are spraying a chemical while you are in a panicked state, not to mention to use this item, you have to remove the cap, point and aim correctly, and make sure the wind outside is in your favor. The chances of you spraying it and hitting your target are minimal at best, and if you accidently spray towards your own eyes, you are now rendered useless and cannot help you, your child or your dog.

Another method I have heard used often is a walking stick brought along on the walk. The stick could be used as a weapon against a stray dog coming at you. However, for the same reason I find the Pepper spray or Mace to not be a good idea, again with a stick, you have to wait until the dog is right up on you to use it effectively.

So what is your best option? To start, some things to do before your next walk:

  1. First off, the most important thing you can do is to remind yourself to stay calm. No one thinks clearly when they are panicked.
  2. With regards to your children, you need to have a safety word that lets them know NOT to scream or run at that moment. Because self preservation is present the minute we are born So instinctively, if a dog runs towards your child, their initial reaction will be to scream and run. This is absolutely the WORST thing that they can do at that moment. When an animal in the wild is actively being hunted or pursued, it shrieks and runs away. So when your child goes to do this, it sets off the chase/prey/hunt instinct even more. Whatever your word(s) may be, make sure your child understands it means to calmly and quietly step behind you, but not to grab your legs….which would restrict your movement.
  3. Another important piece of advice…. Kids are notorious for asking a million questions. This is not the time or place to answer them. I remember growing up my Dad always had one rule in his car that had to be obeyed… if he said, “DUCK” at any time; we were to do it first, ask questions later. Same rule applies to your safety word. Now is not the time for: “But why…??”
  4. Finally – get yourself a very loud air horn. You will find them very inexpensively at Walmart or Defense Devices or even at Party City . The advantage to these are they are lightweight, easy to use, no harmful chemicals are utilized, and best of all, it works!! Why does it work? When an animal has ‘locked on’ to a target, it is very hard to sway them from their mark. (We actually discuss this in detail in my post Recognize a Dog’s Body Language Before Your Child Get’s Bitten). Their 100% focus is on that target at the moment. However, a very loud and unexpected noise will break through and interrupt that brain wave that has them focused on you, your child, or your pet. Think of all the old movies you have ever seen that take place in the wilderness…. When the wild animal is about to attack, the human in the movie will shoot their gun into the air… and the animal takes off. Again, it is the loud unexpected noise that startles them and changes that brain wave.

If you are with a pet or a child and a strange dog comes at you, don’t quickly bend and pick them up. This now makes you the obstacle they have to get through to get to their target, and they will have no qualms about attacking you to get to them. Add to this that if you panic and go to pick up your dog or your child, now you have to juggle them and the horn, making it that much harder for you to use the air horn effectively.

Again, the most important thing is for you not to panic…. The calmer you stay, the calmer your child or pet will be knowing that you have the situation under control.

So now lets walk through the steps of what to do if a strange dog is coming at you, your child, or your pet…..

  • If you are walking with your child….. Have the air horn in an easily accessible place… many of them come with belt clip-ons. You see an animal coming towards you, Remember to remain calm…. sudden movements may agitate the stray even more. Give your child the word that means stand behind you. Your child gets behind you and you have your body turned towards the approaching animal. Mother And Daughter Walking Along PathCalmly take the air horn, and now blast the air horn. (Hold the button down for a long continuous noise. You don’t want to keep hitting the button over and over again… remember, it is the loud sudden unexpected noise that startles and stops them… don’t give them a chance to ‘get used to ‘ the noise by repeatedly hitting the button It will lose its effectiveness.) While holding the button down, instruct your child to start slowly walking backwards with you. When the animal stops and/or runs away, be aware that your adrenaline is still pumping…. It is a scary moment…. But do not start running away with your child…. It may cause the animal that was retreating to want to chase you again. Keep calmly walking away until you know you and your child are safe. Now, remember to tell your child what a great job they did!!!! Let them know how proud you are of them, that your teamwork kept both of you safe!!!
  • If you are walking with your dog…. It is important to remember that your dog’s instinct is going to be either fight or flight….. which are both dangerous reactions in this scenario. If their instinct is flight…and they go to run, the aggressive dog is going to give chase. On the flip side, if their instinct is to protect you…and they go into fight mode, they are actually ‘challenging’ the other animal and things can get ugly very fast. So remember, before heading out for your walk, put the air horn in an easy-to-reach convenient place. If another animal comes towards you, immediately tighten up on the leash, or step on the leash as close to their collar as you can get. (One of the advantages of you stepping on the leash close to the collar, is that this unusual action will surprise your dog, and they will be more focused on this than the approaching threat. It will also keep them still and free up your hands.  Now blast that air horn!! Remember that it may startle your dog as well, so make sure you either have a firm grip on your leash, or that your foot holding the leash is firmly planted. The last thing you want is to have your foot on the leash, the air horn frightens your dog, and your dog tries to run, knocking you over in the process. Once the intruder has ran off, do not assume they are gone for good. Start backing away with your dog, keeping an eye on where the intruder went. You don’t want to turn your back on the intruder, thinking he is gone, bending over to pick up your dog and now you are attacked. Once you are sure they are gone, you can then pick up your dog or start walking away… but again, don’t run… it can attract the intruder’s attention and have him coming back for more.
  • If the other dog starts to head back in your direction, blast that horn again, long and loud.  It should stop them in their tracks.  At the very least, it should attract passerby attention and hopefully get you some assistance.

So to wrap this up, we’ll do a quick recap…. Before leaving for your walk, have the air-horn in an easily accessible place. If a strange dog starts to come towards you, remain calm and rational, have your child get behind you slowly, or hold your dog’s leash firmly to you. Do not run away or make any sudden movements. Give the air horn a long steady blast, not a bunch of quick bursts, then slowly back away, keeping an eye on where the intruder disappeared, and once you know you are safe, praise your child or pet your dog and reassure them (and yourself!) that you did a good job keeping every body safe!!

One last comment: as a professional trainer, I’m sorry to have to add that I can’t account for every possible dog’s reaction. I wish I could. But, for example, a dog that has been trained to be aggressive may not react the way the majority of animals would.  There are always exceptions to every rule – however in most cases, this will be the most effective way to keep you and your family safe.