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Brecker Bunny Safety Books

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 12:11 am

You don’t leave the hospital with an instruction manual on how to protect your child…you learn only by doing. I would do anything to not have learned this lesson the way we did, but it is our reality. Laying on the hospital gurney, cradling my 21-month-old, I sang our favorite lullaby, “Gentle Breeze” through tears. I tried to wish away the moment, but his screams and cries of, “Mama hurts, mama hurts” kept Front cover of book showing bunny familyme firmly grounded in the heartbreaking reality…this was happening…and it was happening to my baby. All the wishing and singing could not ease his pain.

On April 6, after returning home from a walk, I received a frantic call from my husband. He was in the ER. Our son had been badly burned in the tub. Now, my initial thought, before I reached the hospital, was that it couldn’t be too bad. Like all concerned parents, upon moving into our newly constructed home, we made sure to have our son’s tub installed with a device to prevent him from turning the water on too hot. We also had asked to have our water temperature set appropriately. After seeing our son in the hospital, I knew something had gone horribly wrong.

In the time it normally takes for our son to go upstairs and get his blanket and then come back down, my husband heard screams. Rushing up the stairs with our one-week-old in his arms, my husband found our son sitting in our master bath whirlpool tub, crying frantically as the skin peeled away from his legs and feet. His diapers and overalls provided some insulation for the rest of his body, but his feet were horribly damaged. After three weeks in the hospital and skin grafts, our son was allowed to come back home. But care was not over. He had compression socks for over a year and another surgery as well. And the time it took for this to happen?

Less than 10 seconds…

After careful investigation, it was discovered that our water temperature was set above 135 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause third degree burns for a child in 10 seconds. At 126, third degree burns can occur in under two minutes. Legally, all water heaters must be set by the manufacturer at 125 degrees Fahrenheit, however, it is best if temperatures are set at 110 when there are small children in the house.

Sitting in the hospital and feeling helpless and like a failure did nothing to help Breck or heal the emotional wounds my husband and I had, so we began the process of reaching out. What could we learn? What could we do to teach our child and ourselves about safety? We were disappointed by what we found. We decided to do something about it.

It became our family’s mission to find out the top reasons why toddlers get burned and create a book that was a bedtime story with a purpose. Brecker Bunny Learns to Be Careful was born. It is the loving collaboration between burn nurses and doctors at University of Madison Hospital and Clinics , Wisconsin Alliance for Fire Safety (WAFS) www.wafs.org and me, the mom. After meeting with experts from the Burn Center in January of 2005, much research, finding an illustrator, a partner (WAFS), funds, a printer, and learning the publishing ropes, the first printing of Brecker Bunny Learns to Be Careful! A Lesson in Fire and Burn Safety was handed out to survivors and supporters at the WAFS Camp for Burn Survivors in August of 2007.

To date we have delivered over 120,000 of this title alone. We printed it in Spanish and Brecker has a lighter safety book called Brecker Bunny Asks for Help too! Next on the agenda…the rest of the safety series: water safety, passenger safety, bicycle safety, even stranger danger. All books with real lessons, about real kids (now bunnies), made easy and fun to read at bedtime. I wish that my Breck never had to experience his burns, but seven years later, my eight year old has helped to keep many children a little safer…and he even has the thank you letters to prove it!

HEALTHFUL HINTS

1. Tips when reading a safety book:

  • Sit in close proximity with your child while reading. A snuggle goes a long way to help children’s brains chemically calm making them more receptive to what they are learning.
  • Choose one to three things to emphasize each time you read a safety book. To stop and point something out on every page is confusing and overwhelming.
  • Don’t be afraid to get up and move the book. Most kids and adults learn best by moving their lesson. If you are learning to stay three feet away from a fireplace…pace of three feet and practice.
  • Make children partners in safety, rather than merely the recipient of the lesson. Look for opportunities to ask them how they can make a room or situation safer.

2. Tips on Burn Safety in and around the home (based on the top 3 accidental reasons toddlers in my area end up in the Burn Centers):

  • Keep children 3 feet away from stoves, ovens and microwaves. There are so many children in burn clinics who have been scalded by caramel, coffee or hot water spilling as it comes out of the microwave. Usually these burns occur on little ones’ faces.
  • DO NOT TRUST YOUR HAND TO TAKE THE TEMPERATURE OF THE BATHTUB! Test your water temperature by holding a water thermometer or candy thermometer under the stream of water after it has had the opportunity to heat up. If it is over 120 degrees Fahrenheit, change your water heater immediately. Consider setting the temperature below 110 degrees Fahrenheit if you have very young children or elderly people in your home. Their skin is thinner and easier to burn. Also, it is more difficult for them to get out of tubs quickly to avoid a burn.
  • Candles and fireplaces should never be allowed to burn unattended.
  • Keep a three foot rock perimeter around campfires and do not allow children within the ring. I get letters from moms telling me that they thought if they were standing next to their child, the child would be safe; yet, one quick trip or fall and hands and feet can end up in a fire.
  • Most importantly, stay vigilant. Periodically do safety checks around your house. There are many great checklists online and of course, in the back of Brecker Bunny!

Be Bunny Buddies and keep your family safe!

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Editor’s Note: we first ran this post in April of 2010.  The story of Brecker Bunny provides an excellent opportunity for parents to learn and teach a variety of safety messages in an entertaining and attention-getting format. We hope that reading this post again will help save more children from the pain and suffering of an unintended burn.

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.  

Emma’s Inspirations

Last updated on July 5th, 2018 at 05:48 pm

When our daughter Emma was an infant, we moved into our new house. As parents of six children, we were very excited about getting to this new house and getting some much needed unloading done! Pulling into the driveway, we all became very excited and quickly left the car to see the house. There was so much to do – everyone went off in different directions.

I had assumed that my husband or one of the older kids had taken Emma from her car seat emmas dog and cat-small(as that was almost ALWAYS the case) and he thought that it was me who had brought her inside. Making the assumption that everything was okay, we went about unpacking and arranging our new home.

In a sudden moment of panic, I realized that our baby girl wasn’t even in the house. Nearly 45 minutes after we had arrived, I rushed to our car for Emma.

The sun was hot for a spring day. I cannot tell you the thoughts and fears, and the horror that welled up inside of me as I was sure I had harmed our baby girl! I thank God every day that my older son had opened the back window on the ride up because he felt car-sick, or Emma may not have become the vibrant six year old she is today!

From that point on we left notes in all the cars. “Where’s Emma?” was our catch phrase. We were determined to always check the seats and never let this happen to us again.

When my daughter and I read about the school principal who, out of routine, left her baby in a closed car all day, and the dad who forgot the baby was in his back seat because he didn’t ‘usually’ drop him off at child-care, we were sad and sickened by their tragedies… yet we knew how ‘routine’ oriented we all are today… and how easy it is for this tragedy to take place:

  • An average of 40 children die each year in closed vehicles… and numerous others have been left alone in closed cars by adults who assume the car is a ‘safe place’ for their children…
  • How many bus drivers do we read about who fail to “check the seats”!
  • What is typically not realized is how quickly the air inside our vehicles can become saunas for our precious little ones… with temperatures escalating 20 to 30, or even 40 degrees higher INSIDE the car than the air OUTSIDE the car! According to an article in New Science Magazine (July 5, 2005) , a study done out of Stanford University re-echoes these facts: cars become ovens, even while outside temperatures are on the ‘cool’ side!
  • Children’s bodies’ heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults, and a child can be critically injured or tragically dead within minutes!
  • In 2001, according to Kids N Carsthere were approx 20 child deaths due to hyperthermia.  In 2011, there were 33.  In 2010 there were over 49 (the highest number of fatalities in one year – ever)

My daughter and I remembered our ‘notes’. I thought of easy ways to leave a ‘note’ affixed to car windows, in key spots, to help remind us to “check the seats before we leave”. We decided to design decals to help save lives, as well as awaken our awareness of the dangers of vehicle suffocation for small children and pets! This is how we came up with Emma’s Inspirations.

I came up with the idea of static-cling decals to adhere (but not STICK with adhesive) to the car windows. I wanted to add a couple of ‘check’ marks to the decals with a stick figure boy and girl (some with a cat and dog added as well) and add a phrase that rhymed to increase the ease of remembering the dangers of suffocation for adults… and to educate children as well. I thought the phrase would help develop a new mindset for everyone… and help educate our children about automobile safety- the same way we educate them about outlet and toaster safety.

I thought 3 decals for each car was a good idea so I put them together in packages of 6 … enough for two cars. One could be placed just above the driver’s side window door-lock, another just below the rear-view mirror, (or the left corner of the windshield), and one for the back window corner. Some moms stick one on the kitchen window as well; to remind them to keep any cars outside LOCKED from little hands or hide and seek players! Others place one on or above their house alarm to remind them to check the seats.

Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post wrote a painfully candid article on this subject on Sunday, March 8, 2009. He recounts the tragedy of three families as they endure the heartache of recognition that their children died a horrifically “modern” death; they suffocated in seats their parents never took a second glance in! These are situations no family ever would have anticipated.

Emma’s window decals are that little reminder you need when things are moving at a fast pace. By sticking these decals in the right places you will have a simple and affordable reminder to check again. A reminder so simple …yet one that could save your child’s life!

HEALTHFUL HINTS

Many parents are unaware of the dangers lurking around parked cars. According to the Kids N Cars national database, there are a number of injuries that can happen in a ‘MOMENT’ to children left unattended in or around motor vehicles. Here are just a few things to watch for:

  • A child can suffocate in unattended vehicles;
  • Children can get their heads and hands caught in power windows;
  • They can inadvertently shift the car into gear…or fall out windows and doors;
  • “Frontovers” and “Backovers” are responsible for approx 61% of non-traffic fatalities for children under the age of 15;
  • We must be of a mind to NEVER LEAVE OUR CHILDREN ALONE IN OR AROUND CARS.

The decals from Emma’s Inspirations are an accident prevention tool to remind us to DOUBLE CHECK our seats, REMOVE any passengers, and LOCK our EMPTY parked cars from curious little ones. Other areas where safety stickers can keep your children safe from harm:

  • ID stickers for child safety seats – if you were ever in an accident, it would provide key information about your child to caregivers that you may be unable to communicate. You can usually get these at your local pharmacy or stationery store…
  • You might want to place a decal or sticker on a house or apartment window or door to alert emergency personnel to the presence of children in the home.
  • Poison Control stickers should be placed on phones themselves or next to the phone and/or on an inside cabinet door.
  • Medical alert bracelets or anklets or stickers or decals on a child’s seat or diaper bag or person to warn of potentially life-threatening allergies.
  • Decals and stickers are good to remind ‘no metal’ in the microwave or toaster.
  • Stickers and decals are small, yet significant aids in helping us keep track of the never ending flow of “things to remember to mention” or ”do” or “watch out for”… as we manage the literal “ins” and “outs” of our days… and care for the people, who at the end of our day, we do it ALL for… our children!

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Editor’s Note: we first ran this post in November of 2009.  With the weather warming up and National Heat Awareness Day on Friday the 23rd, we wanted to take a moment to share it with you again as a reminder to Please Check the Seats Before You Lock!

My Body Belongs to Me

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 12:45 am

As a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City for more than a decade, I My Body Belongs to Me-small2have often encountered children who were sexually abused for lengthy periods of time and suffered in silence. One case in particular had a profound impact on me and compelled me to write a children’s book called My Body Belongs to Me.

I prosecuted the case of a 9-year-old girl who had been raped by her stepfather since she was 6. She told no one. One day, the girl saw an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” about children who were physically abused. The episode, “Tortured Children,” empowered the girl with this simple message: If you are being abused, tell your parents. If you can’t tell your parents, go to school and tell your teacher. The girl got the message and the very next day went to school and told her teacher. I prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s office. The defendant was convicted and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.

I have thought often of that very sweet, very brave 9-year-old girl. It occurred to me that after three painful years, all it took to end her nightmare was a TV program encouraging her to “tell a teacher.” I wrote My Body Belongs to Me to continue that message. It endeavors to teach children that they don’t have to endure sexual abuse in silence. Parents and educators can use it as a tool to facilitate an open dialogue with youngsters.

The story is a simple scenario involving a gender neutral child who is inappropriately touched by an uncle’s friend. The powerful message really comes through when the youngster tells on the offender and the parents praise the child’s bravery. The last page shows a proud, smiling child doing a “strong arm” pose. The text assures them that it wasn’t their fault and by speaking out the child will continue to grow big and strong. It is a compelling and uplifting message.

The “Suggestions for the Storyteller” section is an important, interactive feature that facilitates the discussion to follow. It will make any caregiver feel more comfortable talking about this important subject, thereby helping to PREVENT the unthinkable from happening to their child. Research tells us that child sexual abuse does not discriminate. It is a problem that affects everyone.

  • In the United States, approx. 1 of 4 girls and 1 of 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • 47% of child sexual abuse victims wait 5 years or more to speak up, if they ever do.
  • 93% of child sexual abuse victims are abused by someone they already know.

It is my sincere hope that by educating girls and boys about this taboo subject, My Body Belongs to Me will prevent them from becoming victims in the first place.

HEALTHFUL HINTS:

  • To keep your children safe:
    1. No secrets. Period. Encourage your children to tell you about things that happen to them that make them feel scared, sad or uncomfortable. If children have an open line of communication, they will be more inclined to alert you to something suspicious before it becomes a problem. The way I effectuate this rule is as follows: If someone, even a grandparent, were to say something to my child such as “I’ll get you an ice cream later, but it will be our secret”, I firmly, but politely say “We don’t do secrets in our family.” Then I say to my child “Right? We don’t do secrets. We can tell each other everything.”
    2. Teach your child the correct terms for their body parts. This will make them more at ease if they need to tell you about a touch that made them feel uncomfortable.
    3. Teach your child to tell a safe person if someone touches them in an inappropriate way. Discuss with children the importance of telling a parent, teacher or other trusted adult right away.
    4. Let children decide for themselves how they want to express affection. Children should not be forced to hug or kiss if they are uncomfortable. Even if they are your favorite aunt, uncle or cousin, your child should not be forced to be demonstrative in their affection. While this may displease you, by doing this, you will empower your child to say no to inappropriate touching.
  • If you choose to use My Body Belongs to Me as a tool for teaching your family about body safety, here are some suggestions:
    1. Read the book at least once for enjoyment before using it to get into a serious discussion.
    2. After reading the book, help lead an open-ended discussion by asking questions such as the following: What are your parts that are private, Why did the child get scared, What did the uncle’s friend do, What did he tell the little child, If someone touches your private parts, should it be a secret, Why did the uncle’s friend put his finger up to his lips, What did the child do when he did that, Were the mom and dad happy when the child told them what had happened, What did they do, If the child did not tell the parents, who else could be told, How does the child feel in the picture at the end?
    3. Find teachable moments with your child to reinforce the lessons learned in the book.

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Editor’s Note: We first introduced you to Jill Starishevsky and “My Body Belongs to Me”  in February, 2010.  At the time, her book had been self-published and was only available for purchase on her website.  In May 2014, My Body Belongs to Me will be re-released and available for purchase on Amazon (congratulations Jill!).  And, since April is National  Child Abuse Prevention Month, we  thought it the perfect time to re-introduce this wonderful book to the Pediatric Safety community.  On a side note – if you decide you want a copy before the end of April, click on over to her site and tell her we sent you – she’ll take good care of you.

Kid’s Companion for Special Needs

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 12:46 am

Editor’s Note: We first introduced you to Kid’s Companion Chewelry for special needs children in January, 2010. Since then the company and mom-founder have expanded their product range and added items for babies and toddlers. We thought it was worth another introduction to this company that emphasizes benefits for kids with sensory issues along with safety and environmental responsibility.

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A common thread for many mom entrepreneurs is the stories that have made our companies. This is mine. It’s the story of the HeartString Kid Companion. One little item that gives peace of mind to caregivers and a shot of confidence to special needs youth. Let me tell you how…

One day, with two growing children, I noticed that my daughter, with Tourette’s Syndrome Kids Companionand sensory issues, very much appreciated a clay heart pendant I had made for her teething sister. Maybe it should be noted that my university background is in health sciences, but I also am a jeweler (my creative side I guess). As I watched, it struck me that my 3 year old couldn’t chew and fidget discreetly while my nursing infant could tug and teeth to her hearts’ content. After a few comments from parents, phone calls to child healthcare professionals and fruitless product searches, I realized that other parents were looking for such accessories, especially for their special needs children.

This began our journey. It was 2006 and the road ahead would be long with many challenges we’d need to overcome. As a mother, I wanted to see my children happy. Part of having a happy special needs youth is having one that functions well at school, at play and especially, as best she can with her peers. With time, needing to belong to her peer group would become more and more important. That meant creating something that was chewable and tuggable while still being “cool” enough to blend in. Finally, we had a solution….a durable, colorful, non-toxic pendant that was safe to chew on…something that could help any child be him/herself, anytime, anywhere. We called it the HeartString Kid Companion.

Years of research and development went into making this a product we could truly be proud of, from finding materials for the design idea to testing prototypes and final parts. Since our products are developed for infant use, we wanted FDA approved, North American sourced/made and socially responsible materials. THAT was a tall order, but we did it! We have followed ASTM standards and have passed the new (and future) CPSIA 3rd party testing. We have our 3rd Party Certificate documenting the safety standards met. We even keep a record of all MSDS certificates from our suppliers.

In the end, we learned a lot. From injection molding, to lab testing, to exporting and distribution channels… logistics, FDA and marketing. Our business skills are becoming honed and our knowledge of the maternity/paternity and infant market is increasing daily. With the many legal and marketing loopholes we encounter, we see how important it is, that companies like ours press on with their values. (…that is a whole other story…)

Ultimately we had one goal in mind for the time-strapped parent: In a world of increasing uncertainty about children product safety, The Kid’s Companion would give parents peace of mind.

  • A custom breakaway clasp will release and can be re-attached with ease – a feature that guards against strangulation, even at play.
  • 18” or 20″ necklaces (lanyards) are made with durable and washable rayon/cotton that is dyed with safe non-toxic dyes.
  • Pendants all pass small parts test and are actually around 2” to eliminate any possibility of choking
  • Pendant and clasp materials are medical grade, BPA/phthalates free, Lead free, Latex free and Cadmium free.
  • Everything can be washed!! (Pendants are even dishwasher safe).

Even more important…we discovered a way to help a child whose special needs might easily set them apart… find a way to fit in. For my daughter…for other children…we are making a difference…

Healthful Hints

There are a number of different types of products to help your child overcome sensory issues. Often recommended by both parents and occupational therapists are the following:

Many children with sensory issues like to put things in their mouth. To keep them safe:

  • Check if the product complies with safety regulations for child care articles!
  • Avoid PVC and plastic items with enamel or paint. Especially those at economy stores.
  • Do not rely on retailers or manufacturers to meet voluntary standards, or even to comply with mandatory standards. Request Proof. Get informed. Supply chains notoriously have holes.
  • As with the Kid’s Companion, make sure the items are too large to be swallowed and can easily be sanitized (i.e. dishwasher safe or machine-washable).
  • Replace any damaged products before they break, tear or can become small parts.

As always, if you’re introducing something new to your child’s routine, check with your child’s pediatrician, therapist or teacher first.

BuddyTag

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 12:05 am

My BuddyTagIt was a cold winter night when my six-year-old Bethanie got separated from my family at Six Flags over Texas. We have a tradition of going to Six Flags before Christmas to see the holiday lights and Christmas musicals, drink hot coco and go on the fun rides. It was getting close to the parks closing hours, so we stopped by a gift shop on the way out. My wife thought I was watching Bethanie, and I thought she had her. It was not until we got to the parks’ exit we both realized our youngest one was not with us. We had to fight through the crowd trying to exit and were lucky that we found her back at the gift shop. She was holding the store clerk’s hand with tears rolling down her face. Even though it was only about 10 minutes, it definitely felt like a worst nightmare, and so many horrible possibilities came across my mind.

That same night I searched the Internet for a product that I could use to track my children whenever they are out with me. But everything online was GPS or cellular tracking products. They are expensive, over $150 per piece. Worst yet, there are monthly service charges, averaging about $10 per month. It just so happened that I was working on a Bluetooth product for my company and realized that I could use this unique technology to make a child safety product that is cost effective, has no monthly fees, and easy to use; hence, BuddyTag!

BuddyTag is truly simple to use, and we designed each wristband with kids in mind- there are over 5 color combinations! Each BuddyTag set comes with a Bluetooth tag that fits into a custom designed wristband, and a free app that you can download onto your iPhone (4S or newer) or Samsung phone (Galaxy S3, S4, Note2 and Note3 with Android 4.3). There are many unique capabilities, but there are four that you should really know about.

The one we hear most about from parents is the Out of Range alert. When your child wanders out of your pre-set proximity, our app will sound an alarm and vibrate your phone to alert you. When you get the alert, you want to quickly get your child back within your sight. The maximum distance varies depending on which phone you have and also your surroundings (open space vs. a house with many walls). With my iPhone 5S, my daughter’s BuddyTag can work up to about 80 feet at a playground. My sister has a Samsung Note3, and her phone can track a BuddyTag up to about 120 feet. Our app also has a customization setting that allows you customize the range.

My BuddyTag - colors for kids

I personally find the Panic Button the most useful with my two daughters! When they are out shopping with me, I am always nervous about letting them use a public restroom because I don’t know who is in there and what’s going on inside. If my daughters ever felt threatened in any way, they are taught to scream and quickly press the Panic Button on their BuddyTag . My phone will alert me, so I can quickly take actions to help them.

Speaking of which, whether you have one child or a Brady Bunch, you can connect all their BuddyTags  to your phone and even enter each child’s name so you know which BuddyTag is who. This way you can track all your children on the same app. Not to worry though – you are the ONLY person who can track your child’s BuddyTag. Once it is connected to your device, no one else can see it. If you want to pass your child’s BuddyTag to your spouse, you simply disconnect it from your device and let your spouse connect to it with theirs. We wanted simple – but safety was key!

If you and your child do get separated, the Personal ID tag will help reunite your lost child with you. Our silicone wristband has a white sticker for your name and phone number, while the Velcro and terrycloth wristbands have a personal ID insert. If your child doesn’t have your cell phone number memorized this feature is very important.

If you are a working parent with a babysitter taking your child out for daily activities, the Email with Last Seen Location is extremely useful. Before leaving your kids, download the BuddyTag app onto your babysitter’s phone. If the child wanders out of the Bluetooth signal range from the babysitter, our app alerts the babysitter that the child is out of range and also sends an email to two additional designated persons with the date, time and the Google map location of where they got separated. When you receive the email, you can quickly call your babysitter to make sure your child is safe and sound.

My engineering team and I spent over a year optimizing our app and refining our BuddyTag design. Based on our customers’ feedback, we made sure to address any concerns about easy removal of the wristbands. Our patent pending silicone wristband is reinforced with Mylar and fastened with a custom designed coin screw. Once you use a coin to fasten the wristband on your child, it’s actually pretty difficult to remove it. Alternatively, if you want something that is easier to put on and take off, our Velcro and terrycloth wristbands would be perfect. If having something around their wrist bothers your child, you can loop the Velcro wristband around one of the belt loops or simply remove the Bluetooth tag and place it in one of your child’s pockets.

Like all technology and safety products, BuddyTag is not meant to replace proper parental supervision. It is best to use BuddyTag in conjunction with the healthful hints below. I sincerely hope BuddyTag brings you a peace of mind as it has for me!

Editor’s Note:  If you want to see BuddyTag in action, it will be featured on the TODAY show on Monday, March 10, 2014.  Look for it on your local NBC station.

HEALTHFUL HINTS:

Before you visit a theme park or go shopping with your child, develop a game plan on how to find each other if you get separated. Keep it simple because your child will not remember too many things when in panic.

  1. Stay Where You Are. Don’t panic, just stay where you are at. Don’t try to wander around and look for mom and dad. It’s easier for mom and dad to trace our way back to find you than you trying to find us.
  2. Ask for Help, But Don’t “Go” with Strangers. You can ask for help from adults, but first look for police officers, security guards, store clerks or theme park workers wearing uniforms and nametags. If you don’t see any uniformed personnel, you look for other kids holding hands with their moms. Ask one of the moms for help, but don’t go with them. When I was at Disney World with my children during Thanksgiving, the first thing we did when we got to the park is to teach my children recognizing park employees. Most theme park employees wear colorful polo shirts and khaki pants, and they all usually have nametags on.
  3. Carry Personal ID Information. My younger daughter is 7 years old now, but I still make her carry personal ID information with her. I am concerned that she might not remember my cell phone number when she is in panic. It doesn’t have to be a BuddyTag, but simply a piece of paper with your name and phone number will work.

If you have children younger than 4 years old, you should also make sure they know your full name. Many young children know their parents only as mommy and daddy. It is crucial to teach them to yell out your full name when lost.