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Carbon Monoxide is a Silent Killer…How to Keep Your Family Safe

As the winter months rapidly approach and the cold starts to set in, It is inevitable that people will start to break out the heaters.  It is around this time of year that you will start to see an increase in the number of Carbon Monoxide stories in the news and especially in the hospitals.  It’s the Carbon Monoxide I would like to talk about today.

What is Carbon Monoxide and how can I tell where it is?

Carbon Monoxide or CO, is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is created from unburned Fuel Sources such as gas, oil or coal. So any appliance that uses fuel can create carbon monoxide.  Heaters, Furnaces, Dryers, Cars, Fire Places, Chimneys, Generators, Barbecues, etc.. all have the ability to create carbon monoxide.  Please make sure that any fuel burning item in your home has been properly installed and sealed, and that all manufacturer instructions for doing so have been followed.

Items that use electricity do not burn a fuel and do not emit carbon monoxide.  While these items may pose a significant risk of fire when used improperly or left unattended, they do not burn fuel and do not pose a risk of Carbon Monoxide.

Common Locations of Carbon Monoxide:

  • Automobile Garage – Cars warming up or left running in a garage will cause a build-up of Carbon Monoxide.
  • Laundry Room – Laundry machines that run on natural gas or propane can emit propane.
  • Basement – Furnaces and Heaters located in a basement or enclosed area can cause a build-up of Carbon Monoxide.
  • Kitchen – Gas Appliances like ovens can emit Carbon Monoxide.
  • Bedroom – Fuel burning heaters such as gas lamps and heaters can emit Carbon Monoxide.

What are the Signs of CO Poisoning?

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty Breathing.

How Can I Detect CO In My Home?

While CO is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas it can be detected with Carbon Monoxide monitors that can be bought at many stores.  Things to know about CO detectors before you purchase:

  • CO detectors come in many sizes.
  • CO detectors are NOT all the same. Some detect non-lethal low levels of CO while others only detect potentially lethal high levels of CO.   Please read the package on the detector you purchase.
  • Some can be hardwired to your house alarm system and some use batteries AA or 9volt batteries.

Where In My Home Should I Place CO Detectors?

  • CO detectors should be placed in areas of the house you spend the most time in. The living room, Family Room areas are great places to put them and they should also be placed outside the bedroom areas to alert occupants Before it reaches the bedrooms.
  • CO detectors should not be placed next to or near items that emit a lot of heat as it may cause the device to malfunction. As always, please read and follow the instructions on whichever device you purchase.

What should I do if my CO detector is activated OR someone in my home begins to have the symptoms of CO poisoning?

  • If the detector is activated you should immediately open doors and windows and go outside.
  • Once outside, assess to see if anyone is having symptoms of CO poisoning.
  • If anyone is having symptoms CALL 911 AND Follow the instructions they give you.
  • If the alarm continues to sound call 911 and let the fire department clear the home.

For more information on Carbon monoxide you can contact the following:

  • Your local Fire Department
  • Underwriter Laboratories – 1-847-272-8800
  • Utility Companies in your area. The Gas company for example.

As always, I urge everyone to err on the side of caution and CALL 911 if any concern exists about CO in your home. Please be safe and use your items carefully. Here in South Florida during hurricane Irma there were fatalities due to CO because people ran generators and motors inside of their homes while they slept and succumb to CO poisoning.  Always run motors and any fuel burning device in an opened, ventilated area!

Be Safe and stay warm.

Sleep: The Best Gift to Your Child’s Intelligence

As parents, we are faced with an onslaught of products that claim to improve our child’s learning and intelligence. Manufacturers of toys, games, and electronic devices all try to convince us that they will make all the difference in your child’s development.

It turns out that perhaps the easiest gift we can give our child’s developing brain is sleep. We all know the importance of sleep, but new research links sleep directly to the development of executive function in young kids.

Why is Executive Function Important?

You may have heard the phrase “executive function” thrown around in education circles. What does it really mean? Simply put, executive function is the mental processes that help you regulate your behavior. Things like impulse control, working memory and planning are all part of executive function.

From this description you can probably tell how important executive function is to kids performance in school, and perhaps more importantly, their functioning in later life. Kids who lack executive functioning skills often appear to be misbehaving or defiant. In reality, their brain just doesn’t yet have the skills to regulate their behavior well.

The Link to Sleep

Think back to the last night you lost a night’s sleep. How did you feel the next day? Groggy, slow-moving, perhaps even clumsy or forgetful? This is a perfect example of how sleep affects executive control. Without proper sleep even we adults are not at the top of our mental game in terms of executive function. Now imagine this same scenario in children, who have not fully developed their executive control anyway.

Past research has clearly linked sleep loss to poor executive function in elementary age children. In these groups, children who lose sleep either due to medical problems or purposefully in lab settings often experience deficits in cognitive skills and the ability to pay attention.

We are just now understanding, however, the ways in which sleep might affect executive function in very young children. The newest study on this topic looks at children as young as 12-18 months of age. While these kids have not developed a great deal of executive function skills, it is still possible to see differences.

The results of this study found that among kids who had more overall night sleep, their executive function skills were higher than among kids who had less overall night sleep. Additionally, the area that showed the most difference was executive functions that centered on impulse control.

As parents, we all know what this looks like in real-life. Your toddler skips a nap or gets to bed too late one night and they are a mess the next day. Cranky, unable to follow the simplest instructions and cries at the drop of a hat. Now multiply this by weeks or months of inadequate sleep and you can get a picture of how sleep really affects executive function.

So, forget all the fancy gadgets and electronic games. If you want your child to develop their intellect and executive function in the best possible way—just let them sleep as much as they can.

How to Cope With Pregnancy Morning Sickness

What is Morning Sickness

Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, also known as morning sickness, is very common in early pregnancy. It’s unpleasant, but it doesn’t put your baby at any increased risk and usually clears up by weeks 16 to 20 of pregnancy.

Some women get a very severe form of nausea and vomiting called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which can be very serious. It needs specialist treatment, sometimes in hospital. Find out more about hyperemesis gravidarum.

With morning sickness, some women are sick (vomit) and some have a feeling of sickness (nausea) without being sick. The term “morning sickness” is misleading. It can affect you at any time of the day or night, and some women feel sick all day long.

It’s thought hormonal changes in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are probably one of the causes of morning sickness.

Symptoms should ease as your pregnancy progresses. In some women, symptoms disappear by the third month of pregnancy. However, some women experience nausea and vomiting for longer than this, and about 1 woman in 10 continues to feel sick after week 20.

How common is morning sickness?

During early pregnancy, nausea, vomiting and tiredness are common symptoms. Around half of all pregnant women experience vomiting, and more than 80% of women (80 out of 100) experience nausea in the first 12 weeks.

People sometimes consider morning sickness a minor inconvenience of pregnancy, but for some women it can have a significant adverse effect on their day-to-day activities and quality of life.

Treatments for morning sickness

If you have morning sickness, your GP (*doctor) or midwife will initially recommend that you try a number of changes to your diet and daily life to help reduce your symptoms. These include:

  • getting plenty of rest – tiredness can make nausea worse
  • if you feel sick first thing in the morning, give yourself time to get up slowly – if possible, eat something like dry toast or a plain biscuit before you get up
  • drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, and sipping them little and often rather than in large amounts, as this may help prevent vomiting
  • eating small, frequent meals that are high in carbohydrate (such as bread, rice and pasta) and low in fat – most women can manage savoury foods, such as toast, crackers and crispbread, better than sweet or spicy foods
  • eating small amounts of food often rather than several large meals – but don’t stop eating
  • eating cold meals rather than hot ones as they don’t give off the smell that hot meals often do, which may make you feel sick
  • avoiding foods or smells that make you feel sick
  • avoiding drinks that are cold, tart (sharp) or sweet
  • asking the people close to you for extra support and help – it helps if someone else can cook, but if this isn’t possible, go for bland, non-greasy foods, such as baked potatoes or pasta, which are simple to prepare
  • distracting yourself as much as you can – the nausea can get worse the more you think about it
  • wearing comfortable clothes without tight waistbands

If you have severe morning sickness, your doctor or midwife might recommend medication.

Anti-sickness remedies

If your nausea and vomiting is severe and doesn’t improve after you make changes to your diet and lifestyle, your GP (*doctor) may recommend a short-term course of an anti-sickness medicine that is safe to use in pregnancy.

This type of medicine is called an antiemetic. The commonly prescribed antiemetics can have side effects. These are rare, but can include muscle twitching.

Some antihistamines (medicines often used to treat allergies such as hay fever) also work as antiemetics. Your doctor might prescribe an antihistamine that is safe to take in pregnancy. See your GP if you would like to consider this form of treatment.

Ginger eases morning sickness

There is some evidence that ginger supplements may help reduce nausea and vomiting. To date, there have not been any reports of adverse effects being caused by taking ginger during pregnancy.

However, ginger products are unlicensed in the UK, so buy them from a reputable source, such as a pharmacy or supermarket. Check with your pharmacist before you use ginger supplements.

Some women find that ginger biscuits or ginger ale can help reduce nausea. You can try different things to see what works for you.

Find out more about vitamins and supplements in pregnancy.

Acupressure might help morning sickness

Acupressure on the wrist may also be effective in reducing symptoms of nausea in pregnancy. Acupressure involves wearing a special band or bracelet on your forearm. Some researchers have suggested that putting pressure on certain parts of the body may cause the brain to release certain chemicals that help reduce nausea and vomiting.

There have been no reports of any serious adverse effects caused by using acupressure during pregnancy, although some women have experienced numbness, pain and swelling in their hands.

When to see a doctor for morning sickness

If you are vomiting and can’t keep any food or drink down, there is a chance that you could become dehydrated or malnourished. Contact your GP (*doctor) or midwife immediately if you:

  • have very dark-coloured urine or do not pass urine for more than eight hours
  • are unable to keep food or fluids down for 24 hours
  • feel severely weak, dizzy or faint when standing up
  • have abdominal (tummy) pain
  • have a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • vomit blood

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) can also cause nausea and vomiting. A UTI is an infection that usually affects the bladder but can spread to the kidneys.

If you have any pain when passing urine or you pass any blood, you may have a urine infection and this will need treatment. Drink plenty of water to dilute your urine and reduce pain. You should contact your GP within 24 hours.

Risk factors for morning sickness

A number of different factors may mean you are more likely to have nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. These include:

  • nausea and vomiting in a previous pregnancy
  • a family history of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, or morning sickness
  • a history of motion sickness – for example, in a car
  • a history of nausea while using contraceptives that contain oestrogen
  • obesity – where you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more
  • stress
  • multiple pregnancies, such as twins or triplets
  • first pregnancy

Visit the pregnancy sickness support site for tips on dealing with nausea and vomiting, and advice for partners too.

Find maternity services near you  (in the UK)

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.





8 Tips to Help Overcome Your Child’s Behaviour Problems

There are lots of possible reasons for difficult behaviour in toddlers and young children. Often it’s just because they’re tired, hungry, overexcited, frustrated or bored.

How to handle difficult behaviour

If problem behaviour is causing you or your child distress, or upsetting the rest of the family, it’s important to deal with it.

1. Do what feels right

What you do has to be right for your child, yourself and the family. If you do something you don’t believe in or that you don’t feel is right, it probably won’t work. Children notice when you don’t mean what you’re saying.

2. Don’t give up

Once you’ve decided to do something, continue to do it. Solutions take time to work. Get support from your partner, a friend, another parent or your health visitor. It’s good to have someone to talk to about what you’re doing.

3. Be consistent

Children need consistency. If you react to your child’s behaviour in one way one day and a different way the next, it’s confusing for them. It’s also important that everyone close to your child deals with their behaviour in the same way.

4. Try not to overreact

This can be difficult. When your child does something annoying time after time, your anger and frustration can build up.

It’s impossible not to show your irritation sometimes, but try to stay calm. Move on to other things you can both enjoy or feel good about as soon as possible.

Find other ways to cope with your frustration, like talking to other parents.

5. Talk to your child

Children don’t have to be able to talk to understand. It can help if they understand why you want them to do something. For example, explain why you want them to hold your hand while crossing the road.

Once your child can talk, encourage them to explain why they’re angry or upset. This will help them feel less frustrated.

6. Be positive about the good things

When a child’s behaviour is difficult, the things they do well can be overlooked. Tell your child when you’re pleased about something they’ve done. You can let your child know when you’re pleased by giving them attention, a hug or a smile.

7. Offer rewards

You can help your child by rewarding them for behaving well. For example, praise them or give them their favourite food for tea.

If your child behaves well, tell them how pleased you are. Be specific. Say something like, “Well done for putting your toys back in the box when I asked you to.”

Don’t give your child a reward before they’ve done what they were asked to do. That’s a bribe, not a reward.

8. Avoid smacking

Smacking may stop a child doing what they’re doing at that moment, but it doesn’t have a lasting positive effect.

Children learn by example so, if you hit your child, you’re telling them that hitting is okay. Children who are treated aggressively by their parents are more likely to be aggressive themselves. It’s better to set a good example instead.

Things that can affect your child’s behaviour

  • Life changes – any change in a child’s life can be difficult for them. This could be the birth of a new baby, moving house, a change of childminder, starting playgroup or something much smaller.
  • You’re having a difficult time – children are quick to notice if you’re feeling upset or there are problems in the family. They may behave badly when you feel least able to cope. If you’re having problems don’t blame yourself, but don’t blame your child either if they react with difficult behaviour.
  • How you’ve handled difficult behaviour before – sometimes your child may react in a particular way because of how you’ve handled a problem in the past. For example, if you’ve given your child sweets to keep them quiet at the shops, they may expect sweets every time you go there.
  • Needing attention – your child might see a tantrum as a way of getting attention, even if it’s bad attention. They may wake up at night because they want a cuddle or some company. Try to give them more attention when they’re behaving well and less when they’re being difficult.

Extra help with difficult behaviour

Don’t feel you have to cope alone. If you’re struggling with your child’s behaviour:

  • talk to your health visitor (*child-care nurse or midwife) – they will be happy to support you and suggest some new strategies to try
  • visit the Family Lives website for parenting advice and support, or (within the U.K.), phone their free parents’ helpline on 0808 800 2222
  • download the NSPCC’s guide to positive parenting or (within the U.K.), call their free helpline on 0808 800 5000

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.





Trampolines & Jump Centers: Fun but Risky, Parents Beware

By now I am pretty sure that all of us have either seen the ads for or been to one of the many trampoline centers popping up in a town near you.  Or you are one of the many homes in American that have a trampoline in the yard. While I personally have nothing against trampolines, being in the EMS field I am always aware of the dangers they pose and what kind of injuries they would present with.  While your own personal trampoline or the ones at the jumping center are a lot of fun there are some numbers I think you should have and recommendations you should be aware of before letting the kids bounce away.

The Statistics.

Nearly 100,000 people a year were sent to the ER with trampoline related injuries from 2010- 2014 and about a third of those were with broken bones and 92% of those were in children under 16.  Injuries of the head and spinal cord were also reported in that time and represent the smallest amount but the most severe.  In an American Academy of Pediatrics study they found that fractures were more common in younger children than adolescents and children under 6 years of age actually had the highest percentage of fractures with 47.8%. The study also revealed that while trampoline injures at home stayed around the same average per year, there is a growing and alarming number of injuries at trampoline parks with the national trend getting higher and higher.

The Recommendations.

The safety recommendations for trampolines are the same over a number of different studies.  The American Academy of Pediatrics went to far as to recommend against the recreational use of trampolines for children in 2012, But seeing as how people are jumping now more than ever, they have put together a list of things you can do to keep your children and yourself as safe as possible while jumping.  The recommendations are:

  • Adult supervision at ALL times.
  • Only 1 jumper on the trampoline at a time. Most injuries occur with multiple jumpers.
  • No Flipping. Safety rules may vary at trampoline centers. Please check the rules before jumping.
  • Adequate padding on the trampoline, all of its exposed parts. Frame, springs, poles.  As well as Padding on the floor around the trampoline.
  • Checking all equipment before jumping.
  • Having the trampoline at ground level if possible.
  • Having the trampoline clear of any overhead obstructions:  Trees, Lines, Poles, House.

What to do.

Should an injury occur on a trampoline what to do will depend on the severity of the injury, but as I always tell people, if the thought to call 911 crosses your mind, go ahead and do it.  Some injuries may be minor and require nothing more than some ice and elevation, but should the injury involve the head, neck, or spine, a loss of consciousness, or broken bones, then please let EMS handle it.  They are trained and prepared to deal with these types of injuries.

As, always I hope you have a fun and happy summer and above all be safe!

What You’ll Want to Have In Your Baby’s First Aid Kit

More than 1 million children a year are involved in an accident in the home. Most aren’t serious, but it’s sensible to make sure your first aid box contains the essentials.

Choose a waterproof, durable box that’s easy to carry. It’s much easier to take the box to the child than the child to the box. The box should have a childproof lock and be tall enough to carry bottles of lotion.

Keep the box out of the reach of children, but handy for adults. You don’t want to be hunting for your first aid kit when a child is injured and frightened.

Either buy a first aid box, which is green with a white cross**, or, if making up your own box, write “First Aid” on it so that, if you aren’t around, other people know what it is. If someone else is caring for your children, let them know where the kit is kept.

First aid manual

An easy-to-use guide can help refresh your memory when panic and a crying child make it hard to remember what to do. Or you could print out a first aid guide and keep it with your first aid box.

Painkillers and babies

Make sure you have an age-appropriate painkiller, such as paracetamol (*acetaminophen) or ibuprofen, which can be used for headaches and fevers. You will also need a measuring spoon or, for younger children, a no-needle dosing syringe. Always follow the dosage instructions on the label.

Dressings for babies

  • Sticking plasters (*Band-aids). Buy them in a variety of sizes for minor cuts, blisters and sore spots.
  • Adhesive tape (*Medical tape). This can hold dressings in place and can also be applied to smaller cuts.
  • Bandages. Crepe (*Wrap compression) bandages are useful for support or holding a dressing in place. Tubular bandages are helpful when a child has strained a joint and needs extra support. You can also buy triangular bandages that can be used for making a sling.
  • Sterile gauze dressings. These are good for covering larger sore areas and cuts.

Antiseptic cream or spray

Antiseptic cream or spray can be applied to cuts, grazes or minor burns after cleaning to help prevent infection. Some may also contain a mild local anaesthetic to numb the pain.

Antihistamine cream

This can reduce swelling and soothe insect bites and stings.

Thermometer

  • Digital thermometers. Digital thermometers are quick to use, accurate and can be used under the armpit (always use the thermometer under the armpit with children under five). Hold your child’s arm against his or her body and leave the thermometer in place for the time stated in the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Ear (or tympanic) thermometers. Ear thermometers are put in the child’s ear. They take the child’s temperature in one second and do not disturb the child, but they’re expensive. Ear thermometers may give low readings when not correctly placed in the ear, so read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and make sure you understand how the thermometer works.
  • Strip-type thermometers. Strip-type thermometers that you hold on your child’s forehead are not an accurate way of taking their temperature. They show the temperature of the skin, not the body.
  • Mercury-in-glass thermometers. Mercury-in-glass thermometers are no longer available to buy**. They can break, releasing small shards of glass and highly poisonous mercury. If your child is exposed to mercury, get medical advice immediately.

Calamine lotion

This can help to soothe itching irritated skin, rashes (including chickenpox) and sunburn. There are gels and mousses available for chickenpox rashes as well.

Baby first aid accessories

  • Pair of scissors for cutting clothes, and also plasters and tape to size.
  • Tweezers to remove thorns and splinters.
  • Ice packs or gel packs can be kept in the fridge and applied to bumps and bruises to relieve swelling. A packet of frozen peas is just as good, but wrap it in a clean tea towel before applying it to skin. Direct contact with ice can cause a “cold burn”.
  • Saline solution and an eye bath. This is useful for washing specks of dust or foreign bodies out of sore eyes.

Antiseptic wipes

Antiseptic wipes are a handy way to clean cuts and grazes and help prevent infection. To use them, take a fresh wipe and clean the wound, gently working away from the centre to remove dirt and germs.

Remember to keep your first aid box up to date. Replace items when stocks have been used and check use-by dates of all medicines. Throw away anything past its use-by date. You can take any out-of-date medicines to a pharmacy to be disposed of safely.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

** U.S. First Aid Kits are often white with a red cross or red with a white cross

** Mercury-in-glass thermometers are not available for purchase in the U.K. and in a number of States within the U.S., however they may still be purchased legally in some States.  For more specific information about individual State’s mercury laws, click here.

 





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