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About safekids

Safe Kids Grand Forks is an injury prevention coalition who has as their mission to prevent unintentional injuries to children under the age of 10. Safe Kids Grand Forks is one of over 600 state and local coalitions affilicated with Safe Kids Worldwide in Washington, D.C. Altru Health System is the lead agency for SKGF and our goal is to collaborate and coordinate activivies of all entities in the community who have childhood injury prevention on their agenda. Together, we are keeping the children of our community and region safe!!

Fireplace Safety from Safe Kids Grand Forks

When enjoying your fireplace, safety is a must! It is important to remember these basic safety precautions:

*Never leave a young child alone near a gas fireplace; they can be burned before, during, and after use of the fireplace.

*Create a barrier around the gas fireplace with the use of safety guards can be installed to keep your child at a safe distance at all times. Safety gates can keep your child from being in the room alone.

*Fireplace glass and other surfaces get extremely HOT and can cause burns if touched.

*Consider purchasing a safety attachment designed to disperse heat from the fireplace doors.

*Fireplaces, stoves and inserts (and their surrounding material) will remain hot for a period of time after being turned off, so caution should be used at all times.

*Keep clothing, furniture, draperies and other flammable materials a safe distance away.

For more information, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notification when our new posts are available, please email jwangen@altru.org. Ask to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.

 

Toy Safety from Safe Kids Grand Forks

More than 3 billion toys and games are sold annually in the United States. Although they are meant to provide joy and entertainment, toys are often linked to injuries. Children ages 4 and under are at especially high risk. While choking accounts for many of these deaths and injuries, children can also suffer from falls, strangulation, burns, drowning and poisoning while playing with toys.

Although the majority of toys are safe, they can become dangerous if misused or used by children who are too young for them. Appropriate selection and proper use of toys, combined with parental supervision, can greatly reduce the incidence and severity of such injuries.

1. Use Mylar balloons instead of latex balloons. Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on un-inflated or broken balloons. If you must use latex balloons, store them out of reach of children, do not allow children to inflate them, and deflate and discard balloons and balloon pieces after use.

2. When selecting toys, consider the child’s age, interests and skill level; look for quality design and construction; and follow age and safety recommendations on labels.

3. Ensure that toys are used in a safe environment. Riding toys should not be used near stairs, traffic or swimming pools.

4. Always supervise children at play. Play is even more valuable when adults become involved and interact with children rather than supervising from a distance.

5. Teach children to put toys away safely after playing. Ensure that toys intended for younger children are stored separately from those for older children.

6. Consider purchasing a small parts tester to determine whether small toys may present a choking hazard to children especially under age 3. A toilet paper tube can also be used as a guideline. If the toy fits in the tube, it is a choking hazard.

7. Inspect old and new toys regularly for damage and potential hazards. Make any necessary repairs immediately or discard damaged toys.

8. Check the website of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (www.cpsc.gov) regularly to obtain information on recent toy recalls. Mail the warranty and product registration forms for new toy purchases to ensure that you will be notified of any recalls.

9. Young children should never play with toys with strings, straps or cords longer than 7 inches, which can unintentionally strangle them.

10. Electrical toys are a potential burn hazard. Children under age 8 should not use toys with electrical plugs or batteries. Another concern when shopping for toys this holiday season is the presence of magnets in toys. There have been an alarming number of recalls on toys that contain magnets in recent years. Two magnets that are swallowed have the potential to attach to each other and can cause serious problems. The magnets may attract to each other inside the intestines and cause perforations and or blockages, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. Physical symptoms may not appear for several days after ingestion of a magnet or magnets. Some symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea and pain. Ingested magnets are only visible on an x-ray.

For more information, visit CPSC.gov or contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notification when our new posts are available, please email jwangen@altru.org. Ask to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.

Holiday Safety from Safe Kids Grand Forks

The Holidays are a time of year where there are extra safety concerns. Here are some tips on Christmas trees and poisonings.

Christmas Tree Tips

• Never leave a lit Christmas tree or other decorative lighting display unattended. Inspect lights for exposed or frayed wires, loose connections and broken sockets. Do not overload extension cords or outlets and do not run an electrical cord under a rug.

• Natural Christmas trees always involve some risk of fire. To minimize the risk, get a fresh tree and keep it watered at all times. Do not put the tree within three feet of a fireplace, heater, radiator or heat vent.

• Decorate with children in mind. Do not put ornaments that have small parts or metal hooks, or look like food or candy, on the lower branches where small children can reach them.

• Do not burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in a home fireplace.

• Do not put candles on a tree or a natural wreath, or near curtains or drapes, and keep matches and lighters locked out of reach of children.

• Battery-operated flameless candles are an alternative that do not have a fire risk. Decorative lighting should be labeled with the seal of an independent testing lab and should only be used outdoors if it’s labeled for outdoor use.

Safe Kids Grand Forks also offers these tips to prevent accidental poisoning:

• Keep alcohol (including baking extracts) out of reach and do not leave alcoholic drinks unattended.

• Color additives used in fireplace fires are a toxic product and should be stored out of reach. Artificial snow can be harmful if inhaled, so use it in a well-vented space.

• Mistletoe berries, Holly Berry and Jerusalem Cherry can be poisonous. If they are used in decorating, make sure children and pets cannot reach it.

• In a poison emergency, call the national Poison Control Hotline at 800-222-1222 to be routed to your local poison control center.

For more information, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notification when our new posts are available, please email jwangen@altru.org. Ask to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.

 

Tavel Safety Information from Safe Kids Grand Forks

The holiday season is on its way which means extra travel for many people. Here are some travel safety tips to remember any time of the year.

Car/Booster Seats:
Before leaving home, familiarize yourself with the child passenger safety laws for where you are traveling. However, regardless of the state laws, follow “best practice” for use of car seats and booster seats. For example, a state may require only children under 4 to use car seats. The “best practice” is for a child less than 4’9” to be in a car seat or booster seat.

In general, car seats with an internal harness system can be used on airplanes. Check the label for FAA approval and check with the airline you are flying for restrictions. Children under age 2 are safer riding in a car seat than on your lap. Booster seats cannot be used on airplanes.

Packing:
If you are planning activities make sure you think about the safety gear, including helmets that may be needed. Either pack them along or check to see if the appropriate sizes are available where you are going.

Consider packing “child-proofing” materials such as outlet plugs, blind cord wind-ups, cabinet locks and door knob covers.

Prepare an emergency kit for your car. Include a flashlight, first aid kit, jumper cables, blankets, water and non-perishable food.

Medications:
Ensure you have packed all essential medications for you and your child. Leave medications in their designated bottles with child-proof caps.

Upon Arrival:
When staying at a hotel or resort, familiarize yourself and your children with the fire escape plan. Know where the exits are located.

Remember hotel rooms and family and friends homes are not all “child-proof”.

For more information, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notification when our new posts are available, please email jwangen@altru.org. Ask to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.

The Dangers of Winter Coats in Car Seats

As temperatures dip we bundle our children up to prepare them for the elements, but even with good intentions, a bulky coat and a car seat is a dangerous combination.

We all want to keep our children warm while traveling in the car, but there are ways to safely transport children in the cold weather while still keeping them warm.

As a general rule, winter coats should not be worn underneath the harness of a car seat. A bulky coat under a child seat harness can result in the harness being too loose to be effective in a crash. Here is a simple way to check if your child’s coat is too big to wear under their harness, as well as what you can do test if it’s too big:

  • Put the coat on your child, sit them in the child seat and fasten the harness. Tighten the harness until you can no longer pinch any of the harness webbing with your thumb and forefinger.
  • Without loosening the harness, remove your child from the child seat,
  • Take the coat off, and put your child back in the child seat and buckle the harness straps, which are still adjusted as they were when he was wearing the coat.
  • If you can now pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger, then the coat is too bulky to be worn under the harness.

If you find that the coat cannot be safely worn under the harness, here are a couple things you can do to keep your child safe and warm in his/her child seat.

  • After securing your child in his/her child seat, turn the coat around and put it on backward with their arms through the arm holes and the back of the coat acting like a blanket
  • Lay a blanket over your child to keep him/her warm.

One of the most common misuse conditions seen in child seats is that the harness is too loose, and wearing a big winter coat under the harness is just one of the ways that it can happen. It is very important that the harness is tight enough that you can’t pinch the webbing between your thumb and forefinger. Extra slack in the harness can be very dangerous; it can lead to too much excursion or even ejection during a crash.

These tips should help keep your precious little ones safe and warm this winter.

For more information about car seat safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notification when our new posts are available, please email jwangen@altru.org. Ask to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.

Safe Kids Grand Forks Talks Bike Helmets

Summer is in full swing and kids are wheeling their bikes out in the nice weather. It is important for both parents and children to remember to wear their helmets at all times when riding a bike. Helmets are 85% effective in reducing head injuries. Head injuries can cause life altering injuries, disabilities, or even death. It is important for parents to set the example and wear helmets when riding, not just as a role model for children, but for their own protection.

Here are some injury statistics concerning wheeled sports activities:

  • On average over 80 children 14 and under are killed in cycle-related incidents.
  • Over 200,000 children are injured in cycle-related crashes each year.
  • Each year, over 60,000 children 14 and under are injured while using skateboards, inline skates or scooters.
  • Head-injury is the leading cause of wheeled sports-related deaths and the most important determinant of permanent disability after a crash.

Here’s the good news:

  • Since 1988, bicycle injury deaths have decreased by 78%.
  • Nationwide, the use of wheeled sports helmets by children has increased from 15% to nearly 45%.
  • Bicycle helmets have been proven to decrease the risk of a brain injury by almost 90%.

Wearing a helmet for wheeled sports is the single most effective way to prevent serious injury or death.

This is a bicycle helmet. If you fall off your bike, you are most likely to hit the side or front of your head. This helmet protects those parts of your head. It is for bike riding only – it should not be used for any other wheeled sports, as it does not provide adequate protection!

This is a multi-sport helmet. It can be used for all non-motorized wheeled sports (inline skating, skateboarding, scooter, bicycling). If you fall when doing some of these activities, you are most likely to hit the back, side or front of your head. This helmet protects those parts of your head.

This is a toddler helmet. It is usually used by children who ride on tricycles as they tend to tip over backwards and thus need additional protection at the base of the brain. This helmet looks a lot like a multi-sport helmet.

If you would like to purchase bike helmets at a reduced price, Safe Kids Grand Forks has two types of helmets available for both adults and children.

Bike helmets are available for $8, and are to be used exclusively on bikes.

Multi-sport helmets are also available, which can be used for skateboarding, biking, rollerblading, and on scooters. The multi-sport helmets cost $12 each.

Both bike and multi-sport helmets come in a variety of colors.

For more information, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notification when our new posts are available, please email jwangen@altru.org. Asked to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.

Travel Safety: Whether by Planes, Trains, or Automobiles

Warm weather often brings travel to the lake, a visit to relatives or exploring in other states or places of interest. Besides keeping kids safe in their mode of transportation, there are lots of other considerations that need to be made when preparing for travel. Here are some suggestions from Safe Kids Grand Forks to keep your family and kids safe while traveling and away from home.

~ Be sure to check with airlines to see what seats they allow on planes. Usually only ones with a harness system are allowed to be used on the airplane seat. Others must be checked as luggage. If you need a seat at your final destination, determine that need ahead of time in case car seat rental companies don’t have them to rent. Safe Kids does have some travel vest options available for use for a donation to our coalition.

~ Be aware that you need to follow the laws in each state you are driving through. Therefore, if you cross states with differing ages for kids to be in car seats, you must abide by the laws in each of those states. Check out www.safekids.org for a list of car seat laws by state.

~ Think about what activities your family will be doing while on vacation. If you are participating in water sports, be sure you will have access to life jackets. Maybe horse back riding is in your plans; think ahead for helmet needs and assure that there are helmets to fit the ages of your children.

~ When packing your suitcase, be sure to keep all medications in their original containers. This will usually assure that they have child resistant covers and if there is a medication exposure, it will be easier to identify the exposure and how many pills were accessed.

~ When arriving at a hotel or resort area, be sure to check your fire escape route. These are usually posted on the doors of hotel rooms, but knowing where the exits are PRIOR to an emergency is always helpful.

~ Make yourself aware of conditions in the water that may not be familiar to your home locations. For example, rip currents, tides and the undertow may not be something your swimmers are accustomed to. Swim in areas where there are lifeguards and follow posted warnings.

~ If you are traveling with small children, think about childproofing the hotel rooms where you are staying. Throw a few extra outlet covers in your suitcase and consider a door knob cover for the bathroom.

~ Check hotel pool areas for fencing or locked access gates so kids that wander off cannot get into the pool area.

~ Read and follow height recommendations for amusement park rides. These are posted for the safety of the riders and should be adhered to.

For more information on summer travel safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notification when our new posts are available, please email jwangen@altru.org. Asked to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.

 

Safe Kids Grand Forks talks about Heatstroke

Each year, there are between 30- 50 children who die from being left in a vehicle in which the rising temperature causes their death. This year 5 children have already died due to heatstroke in the US. The graph shown marks the trends seen over the years from this type of death.

Sadly, it does not take a 90 degree day for a child to be overcome by the effects of overheating. The average elapsed time and inside vehicle temperature rise compared to ambient temperatures are as follows:

10 minutes = 19 degree increase

20 minutes = 29 degree increase

30 minutes = 34 degree increase

1 hour = 43 degree increase

Therefore, on a 60 degree day, the internal temperatures of a vehicle can reach over 100 degrees within one hour. A child’s body warms 3-5 times faster than an adult’s body. Heatstroke will result when the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees and when the temperature rises to 107 degrees, it is almost always fatal! Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death. This tragedy can be prevents if parents, caregivers, bystanders and the public remember to ACT. 

AVOID heat stroke-related injury and death by:
- Never leaving your child alone in the car, even for one minute.
- Consistently locking unattended vehicle doors and trunks so children cannot climb in without your knowledge. 

CREATE reminders and habits that give you and your child’s caregiver a safety net:
- Establish a peace-of-mind plan. When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers, so all of you know where your child is at all times.
- Place a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cell phone or any item that is needed at your next stop in the back seat.
- Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer calendar as a reminder to drop your child off at childcare. 

TAKE action if you see an unattended child in a vehicle:
- Dial 911 immediately and follow the instruction that emergency personnel provide – they are trained to determine if a child is in danger.

Safe Kids Grand Forks has developed an educational flyer on this topic. The flyer comes with a vinyl cling to use as a reminder to watch for children both inside and out of the vehicle. The flyer can be viewed on-line at www.safekidsgf.com or to request hard copies and the cling, contact safekids@altru.org.

 

Safe Kids Grand Forks Advocates for Child Safety During National Safe Boating Week

Safe Kids Grand Forks urges parents and caregivers to take extra measures to keep kids safe during National Safe Kids Boating Week on May 17-23. It is estimated that half of boating-related drownings could be prevented by the use of life jackets. Whether it’s during vacation or part of an ordinary day, boating can be fun for the entire family – as long as everyone remains safe. We can’t stress it enough: On a boat, everyone should wear a life jacket at all times.

Safe Kids Grand Forks strongly encourages parents and caregivers to look for a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. ‘Water wings’ and other inflatable swimming aids such as inner tubes do not prevent drowning.

Children ages 14 and under should also wear life jackets not only on boats, but near open bodies of water or when participating in water sports. Children under 13 are required to wear life jackets on any recreational vessel in waters under Coast Guard jurisdiction unless they are below deck or within an enclosed cabin. Safe Kids Grand Forks urges parents and caregivers to wear life jackets on boats or other watercraft as well.  Children are much more likely to practice safe habits when they witness similar behavior by parents and caregivers. Your children will pick up and embrace your safety habits.

Safe Kids Grand Forks also reminds parents and caregivers:

+ Always supervise children when they are around any type of water. Designate a “Water Watcher” – a responsible adult who is in charge of watching children while they are in or near water. The Water Watcher should not be distracted by phone calls, text messages, reading or talking to others.

+ Always wear a life jacket. Adults and children should wear life jackets in or around open bodies of water and on boats. Life jackets should fit snugly and keep the child’s head above water. Make sure the life jacket is appropriate for the child’s size and weight, and is properly fastened. Quick Check: Put the life jacket on the child and have the child make a “touchdown” signal with arms raised. If the neck opening of the life jacket comes over the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.  

+ Learn how to swim and only swim in designated swimming areas. Enroll children in swim lessons taught by a certified instructor. Knowing how to swim does not prevent drowning, but it is an important skill for both children and adults to learn. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool – they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.

+ Learn CPR and know how to use rescue equipment – these are important skills to know if there is an emergency.

+ Take a boating safety course. Make sure the boat operator has passed a boating safety course approved by the U.S. Coast Guard before your child or family rides in the boat. For more information about safe boat operations and free Vessel Safety Checks, contact the local Coast Guard Auxiliary at www.uscgboating.org.

+ Do not let children operate or ride on personal watercrafts such as jet skis. These are intended for adults and require special training.

+ Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Know where and how CO may accumulate around your boat, and install a CO detector to alert you to dangerous levels of exhaust fumes.

+ Avoid alcoholic beverages. Never drink alcoholic beverages while boating — a large portion of boating accidents that occur each year involve alcohol consumption by both boat operators and passengers.

National Safe Boating Week is an annual educational campaign, coordinated by the National Safe Boating Council (www.safeboatingcouncil.org), running the week prior to Memorial Day.

For more information about drowning and boating-related injuries, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

Safe Kids Grand Forks talks about Lawn Mower Safety

As lawn mowing season gets underway in much of the country, safety experts are putting out a warning: Watch out for the kids.

Several cases of children seriously injured in mowing incidents have made the news last year:
* A 2-year-old girl in Florida lost both of her feet when her father backed over her with a riding lawn mower.
* A 4-year-old boy in Tennessee had severe cuts on his arms and legs after a lawn mower ran over him.
* A 2-year-old Maryland boy was in critical condition after a lawn mower he was riding with his grandfather overturned into a creek. 

Such accidents are not unusual: In 2011, 3,780 kids 14 or under were among 83,291 people treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments for lawn mower injuries, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Data from the commission shows that when visits to doctors’ offices and clinics are included, more than 17,000 children and teens are treated for such injuries each year, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“These can be life-changing injuries for children, but they are totally preventable,” says Steven Lovejoy, an orthopedic surgeon at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville. He analyzed lawn mower injuries for a report published in 2012. In the most recent case he treated, a 6-year-old boy lost a foot after he fell off a mower driven by a 10-year-old girl, he says. Often, he says, children are hurt while riding on an adult’s lap, as in the Maryland case. “People remember doing that when they were kids and think it’s OK,” he says.

In many other cases, he says, children are hurt when they run up to adults who are operating mowers and do not see or hear the children coming. That’s why he advises adults to “always know where your children are,” when mowers are in use.

Here are some additional safety tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics and other medical groups:
~ Don’t allow children under age 12 to operate a push mower or those under 16 to drive a riding mower.
~ When children and adolescents are old enough to use mowers, teach them safety steps such as wearing goggles and sturdy shoes.
~ Do not allow children to ride on mowers as passengers.
~ Keep children off the lawn while mowing.
~ Pick up potential flying objects, such as stones and toys, before you start mowing.
~ Do not pull a mower backward or ride it in reverse unless absolutely necessary. If you do mow backwards, carefully look for children behind you. 

This article was reprinted from the Children’s Safety Network and was originally published by USA Today.

For more information about lawn mower safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at safekids@altru.org. Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.