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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.

Back-to-School Medical Exams: Parents, What You Need To Know

This exam is a very important part of good child health for many reasons. It gives the child, parents and physicians the opportunity to adequately evaluate the status, physical and emotional, of the child who is entering a new classroom setting. After being out and about for the summer months your child has been given enough time to break those school time habits and possibly get into a lifestyle not conducive to studying again. The exam time allows for physician and family to discuss this in front of the child.

If your child is an athlete, there are issues to discuss and recognize. An exam that focuses on the orthopedic, neurologic and cardiac systems is very important.

  • Family history can be reviewed and if it suggests genetic issues that may impact on a child’s ability to play a sport, testing can be undertaken prior to the sports season in order to clear such a child to play a given sport.
  • The issue of cerebral concussion during contact and sometimes non -contact sports can be addressed and the seriousness of this can be stressed to child and parent alike. More and more emphasis has been placed on the significance of such injuries, and rightfully so, as repeated concussions can lead to permanent problems
  • Orthopedic issues can be identified that may predispose an athlete student to further and more significant problems. These may result in alterations in training procedures such that emphasis is placed on protecting certain areas of the body.
  • There are issues that may prevent a child from playing an impact sport altogether; such as a single organ which is usually found in pairs- kidneys, eyes, testicles, etc. Certainly emphasis would be placed on avoiding injury to the remaining organ and might prohibit playing a certain sport. It is important for the child to hear such things directly from his/her Doctor, rather than be restricted by parents.

The pre-school exam can stress the importance of looking for aberrant behavior in class mates and avoiding such behavior: smoking, drugs, early sexual behavior, risk taking, just to name a few that in the presence of peer pressures might be difficult for a child to “just say no”.

Depending on the age of the child such issues as sexuality and gender issues can be addressed, including natural progression of puberty and beyond.

Immunizations can be reviewed and if not up to date, the proper recommendation can be given and the fears of parents and children about these immunizations can be openly discussed.

It is easy to see how this back-to-school medical exam is as important, if not more so, than obtaining the right papers, pencils, etc. Parents, please keep this in mind as the school year approaches

Parents, Forget Cool! Get Your Kids the Boring Safety Pads

The holiday season is upon us and all the little boys and girls have made their lists and are hoping for that new toy they have been dying for. Some kids are hoping for video games, some kids are hoping for dolls, and some are hoping for bikes and skateboards. While the video games and dolls can be exciting, it is the bikes, skateboards, and other moving toys that need our attention. While there is nothing that equals the smile on a child’s face when they learn to ride alone and get the hang of their new toy, there is also nothing like seeing them in the E.R with a broken bone or worse a head injury.

Every year thousands of children are sent to the hospital with bumps, bruises, broken bones and head injuries from falls off of bikes, skateboards and even scooters. The old saying is true, helmets save lives. With the CDC findings that helmets can prevent 85% of head injuries, elbow pads 82% of elbow injuries and knee pads, 32% of knee injuries – and having been on more than one call where a helmet did its job and took the hit – there is no reason not to include this in your holiday shopping. I know it is not cool, and I know that there are very few children out there wishing that they will get that new set of safety pads this year, but it may be being uncool that saves our kids from serious injuries with their new toys.

As always, please make sure that your children know how to properly ride whatever toy they have and please make sure that all the safety equipment like safety pads and helmets are the proper size and allow your children to properly and safely enjoy their new toys.

I hope you all have a Happy Holidays with exciting toys and boring safety stuff.

Your Young Child and Sports Injuries: Should You Worry?

Father Looking After Son Injured Playing FootballAs school begins again, your child will be exposed to various sports- participation should be encouraged. The fall sports usually include soccer, football, and late baseball. You, as parents should do your homework also about safety and sports and always promote the acquisition and use of the best and latest equipment available to protect your children from injury. Once this is accomplished, you should also be on the lookout for injuries to your own child during sport play.

The younger your child is, the less likely there is to be a significant injury and the more likely the level of theatrics will be elevated. Many reasons for this are: lighter body weights, lack of high volume inertial injuries, slower running, and natural avoidance of collisions during sport play. You should not only rely on the opinion of coaches and ancillary personnel to decide if it is OK for your child to continue to participate in the sport. In point of fact they might very well be more conservative than you when determining if a child should return to play. Either go to him/her or call him/her over to you and do your own rapid exam and evaluation; after all, you are the one who knows your child better than anyone.

Limb injuries are very common among sports injuries and you should ask him/her where and how much this hurts. Feel the area for irregularities in shape and/ or movement. Ask him to use the extremity in the appropriate action and judge his/her level of discomfort; he/she would not like to be taken out of the game and “stigmatized” as a “baby”- but at this age will not have the same drive to participate that the older child will show. Because of the reasons mentioned above, an actual fracture would be unusual at lower ages- not impossible. If there is any doubt in your mind, take him to an urgent care or emergency room for evaluation.

Head injuries are less common than extremity injuries but are the most important and become more so as the child grows and exerts more and more inertial energy to collisions.

Any child who is unconscious for any length of time after the injury, is amnesic about the details of the incident, cannot answer simple questions as to where he/she is or, what he/she is doing here, etc., or is just “not acting right” to you as his/her parent should be removed immediately from the game and taken for evaluation.

While mild “concussions” are common these children must be observed as per his/her Doctor, and repeated such episodes can become dangerous.

In summary, know your child well, be proactive in helping to assure there is the proper protective equipment and evaluating your child’s injury yourself, and always be conservative with decision making after sports injuries.

Your Child and EKG’s

child EKGAs the new school year approaches and we all start to get back into our rituals of school and homework,there is one more part of the ritual that will return and that is sports. The sports season and the school year go hand in hand for many student athletes and if you have been keeping up with the national news lately, a growing number of children have had emergencies while participating in sports activities due to heart arrhythmias. While heart arrhythmias in children are more rare than adults, they still exist and the activity level and stress on the heart from sports can make an already known congenital condition worse or bring an unknown condition to light. Many sports teams or clubs require a routine physical before participating and that is great but not many require an Electrocardiogram or “ EKG “ to be apart of that physical. Reading stories from across the country and the world for that matter about children who have been injured or even died from causes related to arrhythmias has proven that the need for every child to have an EKG done annually is necessary and even more so in the case of children involved in sports.

Having an EKG done is quick and painless and can bring peace of mind to parents and children and may also give some answers as to why some children complain of or feel different things and could not explain why. I can personally tell you we run many EKG’s on people that call 911 for various reasons and they all feel a little better with a clean EKG.

The causes of these heart arrhythmias in children vary.. Some children have a congenital condition that they are born with and was detected early and is under control by a doctor. Some normally healthy children suddenly develop them for unknown reasons and find out during an EKG during a physical or during a trip to the emergency room from an unknown problem. There are reports linking the rising use of energy drinks by children and teens to the development of these arrhythmias and the sudden emergencies or even deaths that have occurred while using them. The American Hear Association has come out strongly against the use of energy drinks due to the caffeine involved and the changes to your body’s natural heart rhythm and blood pressure they cause. Mix that with the stress of sports and you have a potentially deadly combination. Look around a high school or any setting with sports and you will see no shortage of energy drinks.

The bottom line is that like most things, prevention is key. Having an EKG done by your child’s doctor is easy and should be done regardless of playing sports or not. You never know what you may find and you may save your child’s life in the process. And while you’re at it, get one done for you too.

Thank you and have a great and safe school year!

Photo credit: Kelly Sue DeConnick; CC license

Emergency Dental Care – Knowing When Your Child Needs It

Teeth Injuries in kidsWith summer in full swing, kids are as active as ever with summer sports, swimming, day camp, and more. However, increased physical activity leads to increased risk of injury, which can include mouth injuries. Some injury might not need professional attention and can be easily treated at home. But for those instances where the injury is more severe, immediate medical attention should be sought after. Many dentists provide same-day emergency care for severe oral injuries. Being proactive and taking your child to the dentist after an injury can decrease the risk of progressed or even permanent damage.

Dental emergencies come in many forms. Whether the result of a sports accident or biting into something hard, children can experience severe pain from oral injuries. Some dental emergencies that can arise include:

  • Cracked or chipped tooth
  • Dislodged or knocked out tooth
  • Orthodontic emergency (i.e. broken wire or bracket on braces that is causing pain)
  • Lost filling or crown
  • Severe tooth pain
  • Bleeding gums

Not all dental accidents need immediate attention, so use your best judgment when deciding whether or not to take your child in for an emergency exam. For example, accidental loss of a baby tooth may not cause extreme damage and a permanent tooth can grow in and develop normally. Nonetheless, if your child is in pain, it is better to seek help from a dentist to ensure that the injury is taken care of.

Keep an eye on your child this summer and all year round, as dental emergencies can happen at any time. Don’t hesitate to seek immediate medical attention if the injury is severe. Ask your dentist about ways that you can help prevent certain emergencies from happening. Mouth guards are an easy and relatively inexpensive solution to preventing injury in sports, especially for children with braces. This can help your child protect their teeth for a lifetime of dental health.

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