Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 04-21-2014 to 04-27-2014

PedSafe girls Square Button FinalWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 10 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
Top 10 Things You Should NOT Share on Social Networks Wonderful article you SHOULD share w/your family

The Dark Side of Golf Carts: Hidden Danger for your Family

Unsafe kid in golf cartIf you have gone to play golf in the last 30 years or so, then you are probably familiar with golf carts. Playing golf and driving the cart around the course are part of what makes playing golf so much fun and up until a few years ago, golf carts have mainly been relegated to golf courses and maybe some fancy golf retirement communities around the country. But if you look around now, golf carts are everywhere. No longer are golf carts relegated to the golf course and surrounding communities. Golf carts and golf cart ownership have gone through the roof. Market research firm IBIS World forecasts that by 2016, 76,685 golf carts will be sold annually in the U.S and according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS,) all but four states have laws that allow golf carts or other low speed vehicles to be driven on public roads. Alaska and Texas even let them be driven on roads with speed limits up to 45 mph, showing that golf carts are becoming a part of our everyday lives and accommodating them will be the next step.

Down here in sunny south Florida, golf carts are almost as common as cars. They have made taking the family to work, school, the park, and any place close by a much easier and more fun way to travel. Not to mention the cost effectiveness of saving on gas these days. When I drop my son at school I easily see 10 children being dropped off by parents in a golf cart and there are even golf cart parking spots in the teacher’s parking lot. There is no doubt golf carts are more fun. However, golf carts are giving people a false sense of security. When these carts were mainly on golf courses and driven by adults you rarely if ever heard of a serious accident involving one, but now with the exploding popularity and varying age range and experience of the drivers, this is changing as well and especially for children.

During 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports dozens of people died in golf-cart related accidents. According to The University of Alabama at Birmingham, the national estimate for golf cart-related injuries was more than 15,000 annually during its recent four-year study. The injuries were highest among males, ages 10 to 19, and those 80 and older with fractures and head trauma being the most common injuries found in the study. According to an article in the July 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the rate of injury related to golf cart accidents rose more than 130 percent from 1990 to 2006. During this period, about 147,000 golf cart-related injuries were reported involving people as old as 96 years and as young as two months.

The numbers do not lie. Golf carts have a dark side and need to be taken more seriously both by lawmakers and parents.

From my own experience as a paramedic, what I’m seeing is that this is only getting worse. People are making the carts faster and the drivers are getting younger. We had a case here where a teenager flipped his cart with his 5 year old sister in the cart and we had to trauma alert the 5 year old. She ended up fine but it was still scary.

If you do happen to own one or are thinking about buying one for you and your family, think as you would when buying a car, think safety first. Seat belts are standard in cars and with the main injury from golf carts being ejection from the cart; they should be in your cart as well. Even if your local laws do not require lights, reflectors, a horn and safety belts, they should all be a part of your vehicle, because a golf cart is a vehicle and you will be sharing the road with actual cars. When driving the cart, please remember to drive safely, the website has a great webpage and article on safely operating your golf cart, please take a look at this article before heading out or handing over the keys to anyone driving your cart.

As always, I hope you all have a happy and great summer and above all a Safe Summer.

Summer Camp for a Kid with Food Allergies? Absolutely!

Safe summer camp funI know what you are thinking right now – me, send my allergic child away, to a camp? Are you out of your mind? How, where and what do you think I could do to stay sane while my child is away? I have some answers and (hopefully) you will find them helpful.

First, I would like to say that I understand the complexity of the entire scenario of sending your allergic child to a camp. I understand that it requires a lot of extra work and effort but what is it that is delaying the possibility- is it your fear of the unknown? If the answer is yes, that is ok and absolutely normal. With a few simple precautions, you could take the next step to having your child do what every other child without food allergies does.

The easiest way to start is something that Dr. Michael Pistiner of AllergyHome shared at the US Anaphylaxis Summit in Washington D.C.: A.C.T. – Avoid, Communicate, Teach”. Be able to explain which foods must be avoided to ensure a safe environment for your child at camp as well as the others who may have food allergies. Communicate openly with the camp staff on all levels so that they feel comfortable working with you as much as possible. Teach them because many times, people are embarrassed to tell you that they are unsure of how food allergies should be handled. The more you make yourself approachable and willing to share your information, the easier it will be to begin to open up those doors for your child to enjoy that summertime rite of passage.

Searching for a camp that will be able to accommodate your child’s needs may be a bit tricky but I’m happy to say that there are more and more allergy-friendly camps that are becoming available to parents. These camps also include dairy free, asthma and children who have skin conditions that are excited to spend summertime with others in a fun environment. Not sure where to start the search? There’s a sample of just a few of these camps right here:

Allergy-Friendly Summer Camps

Asthma Camps

Dairy Free

Skin Conditions

Now, one of the most important parts of what you need to remember may seem just a teeny bit selfish at first but just let the thought sink in for a bit. This will also be your time to relearn how to be your own person outside of being a food allergic parent. Let’s face it, when was the last time you did something that was for yourself? You – not the nut allergic child’s mom, not the protective parent and not the unconditional caretaker but you as your own person. I am not saying you have to go wild but I am reminding you that finding yourself and allowing you to find yourself is a very healthy and necessary thing to do. Even if you allow yourself ten minutes a day, you will find that it helps you to de-stress just a bit, can refocus you and it can even give you just enough space for you to sit back and watch your child impress you on how educated they are about their food allergies because of you.

We all choose how we want to handle our situations. The unknown can be extremely scary but small steps can lead to bigger steps, bigger steps to leaps and bounds. Be cautious (be VERY cautious) but also be willing to show your child that new things can be achieved. Show them that they are important enough for you to try. Show them that life is not built around fear but of the strength of what they can achieve, bumps in the road and all. Show them that food allergies are a part of them, not the end of them.

Restoring Parental Joy to Support Happy, Healthy Kids

Restoring parenting joyParenthood is supposed to be a joy-filled journey – or so the ads and Facebook memes tell us. So why does it seem as though our days are largely about nagging, supervising homework, changing diapers and shuttling kids to and from their activities? What’s wrong with this picture?

“Today’s mothers are stressed out, overworked and pulled in so many directions that it can be hard to find the pleasure in parenting,” says Barbara Siergiewicz, a certified parent coach and child development specialist based in Rockport, Mass. “But if you remember how happy you were when you got pregnant and what you appreciate about your children, instead of the challenges of parenting, you’re making a choice to be joyful.” And happy parents create a happier, healthier environment for kids.

Follow this roadmap to restore the pleasure of parenting:

Make a Heart Connection

Set aside time every day to have a meaningful conversation with your child – one that’s focused on feelings, not homework or chores. “Ask open-ended questions to find out what’s going on in your child’s life,” advises Siergiewicz. “For example, ‘What was the best thing that happened today?’ or ‘What was the funniest thing that happened?’” No matter where the conversation takes place – whether over dinner or in the car – stay in the moment by listening intently. This will create a more relaxed, closer parent-child relationship and will foster what Siergiewicz calls the “heart connection.”

Stop the Gripe Sessions

Sure, it feels good to vent to your BFFs about your kids’ picky eating or to send a Twitter feed about your mom meltdown. But making it a habit is a big mistake – and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. “If you concentrate on the negative of parenting, it’s like pouring kerosene on the fire,” says Siergiewicz. “Negativity begets negativity — and that will keep you from rediscovering the joy of being a parent.” Try sharing the good things – photos of your child playing in the snow or news of a school concert – and you’ll be rewarded with a glow of pride.

Catch Them Being Good

“Many parents expect adult-level performance from their kids, and they’re not capable of delivering it,” says Siergiewicz. This sets up a lose-lose situation, with the child falling short and the parents feeling perpetually disappointed. Rather than focusing on what your 10-year-old does wrong and nagging him about it (which isn’t very joyful), accept that he’ll make mistakes and praise him for what he does right. Saying “Thanks for putting away your toys” or “Thanks for clearing your plate without being asked” reinforces good behavior. As Siergiewicz notes, “Positive feedback will boost your child’s self esteem and lead to more of the positive behavior you want to see.” And the better the behavior, the less nagging you’ll need to do.

Clear the Calendar

Jam-packed schedules are a recipe for cranky kids and exhausted parents. Limit your child to just two extracurricular activities each week – say, basketball and guitar lessons – so everyone will have a chance to relax, recharge and reconnect. The less time you spend racing from one activity to another, the more time you’ll have to be in the moment with your children and simply enjoy their company.

Create Family Rituals

Families need regular fun time, whether it’s watching a movie together on Friday night or going out for breakfast on Saturday morning. Having something that everyone can look forward to helps increase the joy. “Family rituals that are positive, loving and nurturing – where parents and children are focused on each other – create lasting memories that sustain us through hard times,” says Siergiewicz. (Like those days when you’re busy carpooling!)

Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 04-14-2014 to 04-20-2014

twitter thumbWelcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world.

Each day we use Twitter to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues who are not on Twitter (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
New parents need to pay attention to baby’s poop color, says John Hopkins’ pediatric gastroenterologists

Warning Your Child Won’t Keep Them Safe: Explain the Danger

“Look both ways before you cross the street!”

“Don’t run by the pool!”

Chances are you’ve used those phrases countless times with your children, but have you also explained why they should look both ways or not run? Have you ever wondered why your child continues to run by the pool, not look both ways or abide by any of the other almost constant parental warnings that you issue?

A new study in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology explains that we can’t just issue a warning, we need to explain the danger, explain why the action is necessary.

To keep your child safe, explain the danger“Saying to your child, ‘Don’t do that‘ or ‘Stop‘ or ‘Be careful‘ doesn’t really work,” Plumert says. “I mean, it’s okay to say that, but the next step is to say why not. You shouldn’t assume that your child knows why not, even if it seems obvious to you.”

Mothers used one tactic especially effectively: They pointed out the dangerous elements in the situation, and explained how those current dangers could cause the child to get hurt. The researchers were initially surprised that mothers focused more on the present features rather than pointing out potential outcomes, but think it’s because parents use the present – the danger – to help the child understand the potential outcome – getting injured.”

I was fascinated by the study and asked a colleague who is an expert in pediatric medicine and injury prevention, and a mother, for more information. She shared her lightbulb moment about communicating danger effectively. She heard a lecture on the subject by a brilliant doctor, who is also a researcher and editor of Injury Prevention who asked an 8- year old patient in a clinic, “what do you do before you cross the street?” He got the usual, “look both ways”. Then asked the kid, “what are you looking for?” The kid looked at him quizzically and said, “dinosaurs?”

We assume that children know the outcome, the consequences, simply by pointing out the dangers, but they don’t. Children have not learned about danger because they haven’t been taught. We have to explain why the rules exist, and explain in ways that children can understand.

Children want to learn. They are insatiable sponges when it comes to learning. Ask anyone who has spent time with a 2-year old during their infamous ‘why?’ phase. Contrary to what you may believe by the end of an endless ‘why?’ day, it’s not to annoy you, it’s to make sense of the world, to figure out the ‘if….then’ and how it applies to them. The vast majority of parenting is teaching – both through words and actions – so you need to teach the consequences, not just say ‘don’t do it’. The good news is that if you are consistently sharing the outcome, you may stop getting the questions and may even start seeing your child follow those many rules because they finally understand the reason behind the rule.

“Look both ways before you cross the street!” needs to be followed by “make sure no cars or trucks are coming because they could hit you and you would get hurt.”

All the elements are necessary…

  • Tell your child what to do (look both ways),
  • What they are looking for (cars),
  • Why they should look (they could hit you), and
  • What would happen if they don’t look (you would get hurt).

“Don’t run by the pool!” should be followed by “if you accidentally trip you and fall in the water, or hit your head and fall in the water, you could get hurt more badly than if you just fall on the driveway”.

Make it age appropriate. When my oldest was two and we had a pool I had a rule, “never go down to the (fenced) pool without mom”. I had many “why” questions, and wavering between not wanting to terrify them (or myself) about the fear of drowning, I did the too typical mom thing and started with ‘you might get hurt’ or ‘you might fall in’, but the “why” question kept coming until I finally laid it on the line in terms a 2-year old would understand. “If you go near the pool without me you might fall in and die, and then you would never see me again.” “Die” is impossible for a 2-year old to understand, even “injury” is a pretty nebulous term, because boo-boos usually just require a bandaid and a kiss, but “you will never see mommy again” clearly answered the question because the “why?” questions stopped and neither of my kids ever went near the pool without me. They weren’t afraid of the pool, where we spent many happy hours together, but they did learn to respect the water and follow the rules.

When it comes to water safety, here are some of the basic warnings, which need to be age-appropriate, and the consequences:

  • Don’t run by the pool because if you trip and fall in the water accidentally you might (fill in the age-appropriate blank from ‘hurt your head really badly’ to ‘not be able to get out of the pool’ to ‘drown’ …for older kids, you want to teach respect around water, not fear)
  • Always swim near a lifeguard because they are watching out for you and can help you if you can’t get your head above water.
  • Don’t go by water unless you have a grownup with you because if you accidentally fall in and we can’t hear you, you could die.
  • Always wear a life jacket on a boat because if the boat bumps and you accidentally fall out the life jacket will keep your head above water until someone can help you, otherwise you might sink.

Issuing a warning is always a fine line between teaching and striking such terror that it becomes counter-productive, but your fear of the consequences, of wanting to soften the blow, really of facing your greatest fear of losing your child, may leave your child more exposed to injury or death.

Issue the warnings, and explain the consequences.