Caution! Beware of Snowmobiles with Kids. As Risky as ATV’s

Having the opportunity to write for this amazing website has given me the opportunity to bring awareness to a wide range of topics which mostly come from experiences I have had responding to calls here in south Florida at my fire department. What I would like to speak out today is something I have NO experience with, Snowmobiles. I want to cover this because while planning a family ski trip I kept seeing snowmobiling as a thing to do and wanted to know more and how I can relate to them. What I found is that snow mobiles are ATV’s on snow. I wanted to compare the two. I looked at size, weight, speed, passenger room, and of course injuries, and here is what I found.

  • Both are gas powered.
  • Both have “dry weights” that can be 300lbs or higher!
  • Both can reach speeds well over 50 mph with some snowmobiles going well beyond that.
  • Both come in single or multi-passenger models.
  • Both have varying laws about operating age depending on the state you are in.
  • Both have caused fatal injuries to all age groups with snowmobiles having drowning added to its list.
  • Both list striking stationary objects such as trees as a major factor in accidents.
  • Both have leading causes of non-fatal injuries listed as head, neck, and face injuries.
  • Both list leading causes of head trauma due to a lack of proper helmet protection.
  • Both list excessive speed as a contributing factor in many accidents.
  • Both are susceptible to hidden dangers in the mud or snow respectively.

Having looked at all these factors, I found that snow mobiles are no different SAFETY wise than ATV’s. Yes driving on snow offers some obvious differences but the safety aspects are the SAME.


  • Both are not recommended to be driven by anyone under 16 years of age.
  • Both should always be ridden with a proper helmet and any extra safety restraints when available.
  • Both should be ridden with reflective gear that can be seen at night.
  • Both should be driven cautiously and preferably by experienced drivers.
  • Both weigh a lot and require strength to drive properly.
  • Both should be driven away from bystanders and other traffic as to avoid collisions.
  • Both should be given the respect they deserve as powerful machines.

Having said all this and hopefully made you aware of how safety is similar in many recreational machines, I do not wish to discourage you from going out and riding these machines, I just want you to do it safely.

Good luck and stay warm.

How to Ensure Your Holiday Dinner Guests Leave Smiling Not Sick

thanksgiving_dinnerEvery host wants guests to leave the table with a full stomach, not a stomach bug. Unfortunately, 76 million cases of food-borne diseases occur in the United States each year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 325,000 of those cases result in a trip to the emergency room. This time of year, with heaps of food and extra guests, it’s all too easy to contaminate meals with food-borne bugs or a nasty flu virus.

Luckily, there are a few simple safe-cooking precautions that will keep your friends and family safe and healthy this holiday season. Barbara Kowalcyk, director of food safety at The Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention in Grove City, Pa., shares her tips to help prevent both food poisoning and germ-sharing.

At the Store

Keep raw meats and poultry separate from packaged foods in your cart. The outside of meat packages can be contaminated with bacteria, and touching them means you can easily spread germs and bacteria to other products. “Don’t be afraid to use a plastic bag from the produce department as a glove when handling meats,” says Kowalcyk. “A little precaution now can save you from a big mess later.”

At Home

Proper preparation is the key to safe cooking. Before cooking any meals, clean your hands and all work surfaces. Designate different cutting boards for different types of foods to help prevent cross-contamination. It’s also important to pay attention to what you’re doing. “Don’t go from cutting a chicken to making a salad. Wash your hands,” says Kowalcyk.

Knowing which foods to wash also prevents illness. Always wash the tops of cans and all fruits and vegetables. “People are often surprised to learn that something like a salad can make them sick,” says Kowalcyk. She recommends skipping prepackaged bagged leaves and buying the whole head instead. Remove the outside leaves as well as any with tears, which are the most likely to be contaminated.

Don’t put meat and poultry in the sink. “It doesn’t need to be washed,” says Kowalcyk. Washing raises the risk of contaminating other surfaces in your kitchen. It only takes between three and 10 microbes to start an infection (more than a million can fit on the head of a pin). Just a few drops of dirty water can really wreck havoc on your kitchen. Washing the food won’t kill bacteria, but cooking your food to the proper temperature will.

If You’re Sick

If you’re fighting the flu or a cold, you should stay out of the kitchen altogether. Give instructions to another family member or consider wearing a mask as you prepare the food. If nothing else, wash your hands more often — especially after you cough or sneeze.

In the Oven

Testing meat for color, touch or until juices run clear is not a good way to tell if food is done. “Testing the internal temperature is the only way to know if it’s cooked to a safe temperature,” says Kowalcyk. She recommends you ditch the dial thermometers and pop-up buttons included with some prepackaged turkeys since both may not be calibrated properly. Instead, use a digital thermometer to test meat at its thickest point and poultry at the joint between the thigh and leg.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommends cooking foods to the following minimum temperatures to ensure safe consumption:

  • Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb (steak, chops, roasts): 145 F (62.8 C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
  • Ground meats: 160 F (71.1 C)
  • Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked): 145 F (62.8 C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
  • Fully Cooked Ham (to reheat): Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 F (60 C) and all others to 165 F (73.9 C)
  • All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings, ground poultry, and stuffing): 165 F (73.9 C)
  • Eggs: 160 F (71.1 C)
  • Fish & Shellfish: 145 F (62.8 C)
  • Leftovers: 165 F (73.9 C)
  • Casseroles: 165 F (73.9 C)

click here to access a printable version of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart

At the Table

Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours. This includes the time it may be on the counter or table before you serve it. Keep hot foods hot in the oven and cold foods cold in the refrigerator. “Don’t let your foods get to room temperature,” says Kowalcyk. “That’s where bacteria likes to grow. And the longer it sits out, the more you increase your risk of getting sick.”

After the Meal

Transfer warm leftovers to shallow dishes so they’ll cool down evenly and quickly in the fridge. Also keep in mind that the temperature increases in an overstuffed fridge, so you may need to adjust yours for a few days after a big meal to make sure it stays at a safe 40 F.

The Next Day

Everyone loves leftovers, but not everyone should reach for the cold turkey. Those vulnerable to illness — young children, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions — should reheat leftovers to 165 F before eating them. “Most people will be OK, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry,” says Kowalcyk.


Editor’s Note: This post first appeared on Pediatric Safety in November of 2010. The chart has been updated to include the most current information available on the minimum safe internal temperatures for food. If you’re preparing dinner for guests, print a copy and keep it handy. Wishing all of our readers a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Student Mental Health – How to Get Help When They Need It

Mental health problems are as common among students as they are in the general population.

But it’s not just students who have a diagnosed mental health condition that can benefit from counselling.

Alan Percy, head of counselling at the University of Oxford, says: “A lot of difficulties are not caused by medical problems, but by normal life problems, such as family or relationship issues, or anxiety about their work.

“While these problems are distressing, through counselling we can help students to understand them, and then suggest strategies for dealing with their feelings.”

When to get help

It’s normal to feel down, anxious or stressed from time to time, but if these feelings affect your daily activities, including your studies, or don’t go away after a couple of weeks, get help.

Signs of depression and anxiety include:

  • feeling low
  • feeling more anxious or agitated than usual
  • losing interest in life
  • losing motivation

Some people also:

  • put on or lose weight
  • stop caring about the way they look or about keeping clean
  • do too much work
  • stop attending lectures
  • become withdrawn
  • have sleep problems

Where to go for help

Talk to someone

Telling someone how you feel, whether it’s a friend, counsellor or doctor, may bring an immediate sense of relief.

It’s a good idea to talk to someone you trust first, such as a friend, member of your family or a tutor.

This is especially important if your studies are being affected. Many mild mental health problems can be resolved this way.

University counselling services

Many colleges and most universities have a free and confidential in-house counselling service you can access, with professionally qualified counsellors and psychotherapists.

You can usually find out what they offer and how to make an appointment in the counselling service section of your university’s website. This free service in universities is available to both undergraduates and postgraduates.

Many universities also have a mental health adviser who can help you access the support you need.

As well as counselling or therapy, you may also be entitled to “reasonable adjustments” such as extra time in exams, extensions on coursework, and specialist mental health mentor support.

Student-led services

Many student unions also offer student-led services. Although the students involved aren’t qualified counsellors, you may prefer to talk about problems such as stress and depression with another student.

Online self-help

There are also online self-help services you may like to explore, such as NHS Choices’ Moodzone and the Students Against Depression website.

When to see your GP (* physician)

For more serious or longer-lasting mental health symptoms, see your GP as you may need prescribed treatment or referral to a specialist.

If you have or develop a mental health condition that requires treatment, it’s important to arrange continuity of care between your college doctor and your family GP.

A mental health adviser can support this communication. Your condition may worsen if moving between university and home results in a gap in treatment.

Therapy and counselling

Counselling and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) offers an opportunity to explore the underlying issues of your unhappiness or any worries you have in a safe environment, including helping you develop ways of coping.

As well as university or college counselling services, you might be able to refer yourself for NHS counselling. Search for psychological therapy services** in the UK to find out what’s available in your area.

The University Mental Health Advisers Network (UMHAN)** represents the network of mental health advisers working in higher education dedicated to providing practical support to UK students experiencing mental health difficulties.

Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)

At all UK universities, you have the opportunity to apply for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA)**.

Your mental health adviser can help you apply for a DSA, but you will need to provide evidence of a long-term mental health condition.

The DSA pays for:

  • specialist equipment, such as a computer, if you need it because of your mental health condition or another disability
  • non-medical helpers
  • extra travel as a result of your mental health condition or disability
  • other disability-related costs of studying

Even if you decide not to apply for a DSA, the mental health adviser will still be able to let you know what support is available.

Drugs, drink and mental health in students

If you’re feeling low or stressed, you may be tempted to drink more alcohol or relax by smoking cannabis.

Consider how this may make you feel in the longer term though, as your mood could slip, making you feel a lot worse.

Some cannabis users can have unpleasant experiences, including confusion, hallucinations, anxiety and paranoia.

There’s also growing evidence that long-term cannabis use can double your risk of developing a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia.

Ecstasy and amphetamines can also bring on schizophrenia, and amphetamines can induce other forms of psychosis.

Any underlying mental disorder could be worsened by drug and alcohol use.

Read more articles about drugs.

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

** Resources in the United States

NHS Choices logo


Child Health & Safety News 11/13: Erasing Kid’s Sexting Records

twitter thumbIn this week’s Child Health News: The 10 Most Violent Video Games of 2017 (and What Your Kids Should Play Instead)

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use social media to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we overlook something, but overall we think we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. Still, quite a bit happens every day – so to make sure you don’t miss anything, we offer you a recap of this week’s top 15 events & stories.

  • 7 New Ways Doctors Will Manage Your Child’s Food Allergies 2017-11-12
  • Psychosocial readiness ‘far more important’ than age in pediatric IBD transfer to adult gastroenterology care 2017-11-12
  • WeWork Founder Hopes Her New School Will Help 5-Year-Olds Pursue Their Life’s Purpose 2017-11-11
  • When You Love A Child You Leave Your Needs Behind 2017-11-10
  • Thor: Ragnarok is Sensory Friendly Twice in November at AMC 2017-11-10

PedSafe Child Health & Safety News Headline of the Week:
Boy wins first stage in fight to have details of sexting incident erased

  • Thank you for performing CPR on my child A reminder that ER Docs are often parents too…and how much THEY CARE! 2017-11-09
  • Pneumonia, Bronchitis and Kids, More Common Than You Think – Thurs Time Capsule 2017-11-09
  • How to Reduce Your Baby’s Teething Pain 2017-11-08
  • 10 Bad Excuses for Not Disciplining Your Kids 2017-11-07
  • What I learned from the allergies that put my son’s life in danger 2017-11-07
  • Mindfulness training may help mothers cope with stress when their babies have a heart condition 2017-11-06
  • We shared our stories, let’s honor hers. Help @UNICEFUSA stop the sexual exploitation of girls. #HerToo 2017-11-06
  • National standards and policies in child protection lacking in Malta – paediatrician warns 2017-11-06
  • How to Raise a Confident, Assertive Child 2017-11-06

Thor: Ragnarok is Sensory Friendly Twice in November at AMC

New sensory friendly logoSince 2007, AMC Entertainment (AMC) and the Autism Society have teamed up to bring families affected by autism and other special needs “Sensory Friendly Films” every month – a wonderful opportunity to enjoy fun new films in a safe and accepting environment.

The movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Add to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

Families affected by autism or other special needs can view a sensory friendly screening of Thor: Ragnarok on Saturday, November 11th at 10am and Tuesday November 14th at 7pm (local time). Tickets are typically $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Still to come in November: Thor: Ragnarok (Tues 11/14); COCO (Sat 11/25); Justice League (Tues 11/28)


Editor’s note: Although Thor: Ragnarok has been chosen by the AMC and the Autism Society as this month’s Sensory Friendly Film, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief suggestive material. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your family.

When You Love A Child You Leave Your Needs Behind

When I talk about my husband and his beautiful young son with people, there is a question that is inevitably asked. Sometimes it is kind, sometimes it is disapproving and sometimes it is only curious, but it almost always comes up. Why doesn’t my husband have his son living with him? And subsequently, now that we are married, when are we going to have him come live with us instead of his grandparents. I have one very clear and succinct answer, my step-son lives with his grandparents because it is the best place for him to be. Let me elaborate.

I am a product of multiple families. My birth mother was 15 when she had me and she and my grandmother put me up for adoption immediately. I was raised by my adopted parents until I was 12, then a single mom until I was 17 after which I lived with my dad and my step-mom. As an adult I have met and become close to my birth family as well including two half brothers.

Now, I have a step-son who lives with his grandparents. My husband and I visit him regularly and are an active part of his life, however, we are not raising him. The truth is he has a better life with his grandparents than we could give him at this point in ours. The same was true when I moved in with my dad and my step-mom, they were in the position to give me a better life than my mother. I have a niece who was adopted by another family, we still see her and are part of her life, but she has a more stable family than she would have if my brother had kept her.

I grew up believing that the more people who loved a child the better off that child would be. In my case and in the case of my step-son I have absolutely found that to be true. When it comes to raising a child there is no room for judgement or shame whether self imposed or imposed by the society in which we live. It is okay for us to not be able to do something alone, even if that something is parenting. It does not make you a bad parent to ask for help.

The moralistic notion that giving up a child to someone who can and will raise them better makes you a bad person or means that you don’t love your child is dangerous for the child. If my birth mother had not given me up for adoption, I probably wouldn’t have gone to college. I would have been raised in a household that was unhappy and in the case of my grandfather, abusive. Instead I grew up safe and graduated college without debt and now have the love of four different families.

My step-son is being raised somewhere where he can play outside on acres of land. His cousins are with him almost everyday and his great grandmother lives right up the street. He is safe and happy and gets more attention than my husband and I could afford to give him with both of us working full-time jobs. Eventually, we would like to have him live with us, when he is older and we are more financially stable, but for now, the best option is to let him be where he is and not remove him from a beautiful life just because we have been told that we are supposed to raise him ourselves no matter what.

Ultimately it shouldn’t matter who is raising the child, so long as the child is loved, and sometimes the most difficult decisions are the ones that look like the easiest. I believe it is our responsibility as a society, not just as individuals, to keep children safe and to love them. This means not shaming one another for making decisions that we may not understand such as choosing to let a child go to another home. Accepting our limitations as individuals is one of the most important things we can do, for ourselves and for our children, and at the end of the day what is best for the child should not be decided by morals and ideals imposed upon individuals by society, but by what will be the best decision for the child. Period.