Halloween Safety Tips from Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County

I love celebrating Halloween with my family, but I must admit I feel like I’m holding my breath all evening. Like many Tucson neighborhoods, ours has few street lights and on Oct. 31, kids are EVERYWHERE, often in dark costumes, often zigzagging across the roads to trick or treat. It’s a safety nightmare! Did you know that children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year?

We try to watch where we are going, watch where our little ones are and watch for cars all at the same time. It can be really tough. I give my kids glow sticks to help them be seen by others, including drivers of cars. An added bonus, they think glow sticks are the coolest things ever!

What can you do to make Halloween safer this year for your children?

  1. When selecting a costume make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
  2. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors.
  3. Since masks can sometimes obstruct a child’s vision, try nontoxic face paint and makeup whenever possible.
  4. Have kids use glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  5. Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, remind them to stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
  6. Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Plan ahead and keep your little ghouls and goblins safe and sound this Halloween,

Jessica

Jessica Mitchell is the Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator. Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children aged 19 and under. Spearheaded by Tucson Medical Center, the local coalition is part of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of more than 600 coalitions in 23 countries bringing together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families.

These halloween revelers need a few glow sticks and then theyll really be shining.

Walk this way – Walk to School

Safe Kids Pima County and FedEx volunteers will join students from Whitmore Elementary and around the county to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 4. International Walk to School Day raises community awareness about walking safety and promoting healthy behavior.

Did you know unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19? Teenagers are now at greatest risk with a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

Whether or not your child’s school is participating, Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County program coordinator, provides these suggestions for parents:

Teaching kids how to walk safely:

  1. Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across. Teach them to never run or dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  2. Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers. Parents, let your actions speak as loudly as your words.
  3. Encourage your children to be aware of others who may be distracted and speak up when they see someone who is in danger.
  4. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  5. Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
  6. Remind kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
  7. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  8. Cross streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Most injuries happen mid-block or someplace other than intersections.

As kids get older, they’re anxious for a little more freedom when walking to school or playing outside. But this is also a time when parents need to stress the importance of the little things big kids should do to stay safe.

Remember you are your child’s first role model. Lead by example:

  1. Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.
  2. When driving, put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until your final destination.
  3. Be especially alert and slow down when driving in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.
  4. Give pedestrians the right of way and look both ways when making a turn to spot any bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible.

For more resources to help keep your family safe
visit our website.

 

Eclipse watchers: Follow these tips to protect your eyes

EclipseGlassesIf you’re planning to watch the solar eclipse on Monday, Aug. 21, do it safely.

Don’t look directly into the sun without eye protection – and sunglasses alone won’t do it. Those are some of the safety tips you’ll see in a short video from @MayoClinic to protect your eyes.

As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Tucson Medical Center works directly with Mayo Clinic, which again was named the top hospital in the country by U.S. News & World Reports.

The foundation of our relationship with Mayo Clinic is a shared commitment to improving the delivery of health care through high-quality, data-driven, evidence-based medical care. Our care network membership allows TMC access to the knowledge and expertise of Mayo Clinic to enhance the care we provide locally and save our patients unnecessary travel.

Tucson will see the eclipse as a partial solar eclipse – about 60 percent. It will start after 9 a.m. and end about noon. The Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium reports there will not be another total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States until 2024 – so happy watching, but take precautions!

TMC encourages community members to be cautious in sharing information to avoid phone scams

MagnifierHand_221068210 (002).jpgWith local utilities recently warning customers of apparent phone scams in which payment is demanded over the phone, Tucson Medical Center is urging community members to be cautious in responding to such inquiries.

TMC does have conversations over the phone with patients about payments and we will accept payment over the phone as well.

What we won’t do is make threatening, high-pressure phone calls.

If something doesn’t sound right, ask the caller for their name and their phone number. Keep it as a reference but know that scammers have access to ID spoofing software that can disguise phone calls to appear that they are made from a reputable organization.

Instead, call Tucson Medical Center directly and ask the operator for the Business Office or call us directly at 324-1310.

A legitimate representative from TMC will be able to share information about the previous or anticipated hospital stay, including the date and procedure.

“If something sounds suspicious, honor that instinct,” said Maria Persons, the director of TMC’s billing office. “We will always understand and support your choice to be safe and to be extra diligent if someone asks you to share sensitive information over the phone.”

TMC also has a secure way for patients to pay their hospital bill online. To see TMC’s other mechanisms, please visit https://www.tmcaz.com/pay-my-bill

 

Temps are rising and the pool is beckoning – do you know your water safety?

Pool Safety 3Is it hot enough yet? With Tucson temperatures exceeding 115 degrees for three straight days, many families will be heading for the pool this weekend.

It’s no surprise why swimming is a summer favorite. Parents get a chance to cool-off, kids max out on fun and families make memories.

With the summertime exuberance of visiting, splashing and playing, it can be easy for all to forget important safety rules. This is serious because Arizona has the second highest number of child drownings in the United States.

Child drowning is tragic but preventable. Safe Kids Pima County Coordinator Jessica Mitchell works with community partners to provide helpful tips and education to prevent childhood drowning. She provided us important water safety standards every
parent should know.

It’s as easy as ABC

A = Adult supervision B = Barriers around pools, spas and hot tubs C = Coast Guard approved life vest and life-saving CPR classes

My kids love playing in the pool – what are the things to watch out for?

  • Active supervision is a must. Provide active supervision without any distractions – even if other adults are present and many kids are in the pool. They call drowning the “silent killer” because a drowning child can’t call for help.
  • Infants and toddlers should stay within an arm’s reach of an adult.
  • Don’t rely on swimming aids such as water wings and pool noodles. They are fun, but may not prevent drowning.
  • When finished, remove all toys from the pool. This can tempt children to go for the toys later, increasing the risk of them falling in and drowning.
  • Barriers should be in place to keep children from entering the pool on their own. Alarms on doors and pool fences with self-closing gates also helps to keep kids safe.
  • Always keep a phone nearby so that you can call 911 in the case of an emergency.
  • Empty kiddie pools and turn them upside down when finished. Tragedies have happened in just a few inches of water.

Pool Safety 2
What swimming rules should I set for my children?

  • Only swim if an adult is a present.
  • Do not dive in shallow areas of the pool (or the entire pool if it is not deep enough for diving).
  • Don’t push or jump on others.
  • Don’t go swimming during thunder/lightning storms.

My kids have already taken swimming lessons, so I probably don’t need to watch them as much, right?

While we encourage swimming lessons, children should not be swimming alone even if they are good swimmers. It takes multiple lessons before a child learns how to swim effectively and even then, there should still be active supervision by an adult.

How do I rescue a child I think might be drowning?

  • Take the child out of the water
  • If you are alone, call 911 and begin CPR. Starting CPR immediately is the most important thing you can do to prevent a child from dying.
  • If you are not alone, begin CPR and ask someone to call 911.
  • Check for breathing and responsiveness. Place your ear near the child’s mouth and nose to see if you feel air on your cheek? Determine if the child’s chest is moving and call the child’s name to see if he or she responds.

Should I be CPR certified?

Anyone who routinely supervises children around water should get CPR certified. The certification courses are provided by many community organizations, including the American Red Cross.

It sounds like there is a lot to prepare for – can the water still be safe and fun for my family?

Absolutely! Swimming can be great family fun. Make sure you take the necessary precautions, always supervise swimming children and that someone in the family has taken CPR classes.

Visit our website for more safety tips and information.

 

 

Safe Kids Pima County – keeping kids safe through education and advocacy

Safe Kids Pima County LogoPlenty of us have practice patching up the skinned knees and elbows of active children in our lives.

Unfortunately, though, accidents are too often far more serious than bumps and scrapes. In fact, accidents are the leading cause of death for ages 0 to 19 – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The good news about this chilling statistic is that we have the power to change it. “Childhood accidents can (often? always? Almost always) be prevented – a few easy steps for children and adults can help keep kids safe,” said Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County coordinator.

Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations focused on preventing accidental, childhood injury by educating adults and children, creating safe environments, conducting research, and advocating for effective laws.

Mitchell is a part of TMC’s participation in the Safe Kids initiative, working with community partners to actively engage adults in taking action for stronger child safety. From providing free bike helmets and pool safety to education workshops and school presentations, Mitchell coordinates a full schedule of activities to facilitate child safety awareness.

Jessica MitchellRecently, Mitchell spent a week at Frances Owen Holaway Elementary School, educating each PE class on the merits of bike safety.

“We explain to the kids ‘the brain can’t fix itself’ and make sure every student has a helmet and how to put it on correctly,” Mitchell explained. “The kids also learn the proper hand signals, where it’s safe to ride and how to avoid taking dangerous risks.”

Many child accidents involve bike riding. Over the past three years, Safe Kids Pima County has provided more than 8,000 free bike helmets to children in our community.

Safe Kids Pima County provides information and resources to help keep kids safe. Going forward, look for Mitchell’s monthly blog posts on helping keep kids safe, happy and healthy.

For further information about Safe Kids Pima County, please email safekidspimacounty@tmcaz.com or call (520) 324-2783. If you are holding a community event and would like Safe Kids Pima County to attend or participate, click here.

‘Who put this car seat in?’ – Serious wreck tests mom’s skill at installing car seat

FB_IMG_1450330598589

Amber Bermudez and her son, Luis

As the mom of a 2 year old, Amber Bermudez is the first to admit that when it came to installing her son’s car seat, she would always have somebody else do it. “I would have other people do it for me because I didn’t want to mess up on something that important,” she said. Then one evening this past summer, she was watching KVOA News 4 Tucson when she saw a Kristi’s Kid’s segment – a car seat call-in event. The program was simple. Call in, schedule a class to attend that weekend and then receive a free seat that’s appropriate for your child. Bermudez figured it was education she needed. “I thought it would be important for me to learn how to install his car seat properly in case something ever happened.”

The program, funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, is a partnership between Tucson Police and Tucson Medical Center, in which certified child passenger safety technicians teach the classes and provide age- and weight-appropriate car seats. That weekend, she attended the class, which was taught by TPD Officer Danny Peralta. “I remember Amber. She was taking tons of notes in the back of the class and I told her she really didn’t have to do that,” he laughed. “She insisted that she did.”

One of the biggest things she learned? It’s considered a misuse to use both the seat belt and the LATCH system to install a car seat. It’s considered best practice to use either one or the other – but not both, as it’s never been tested.

She also learned that although her son was approaching his third birthday, it was best to keep him rear-facing if he didn’t exceed the height and weight limit for the seat. Keeping a child rear-facing as long as possible helps protect the child’s head, neck and spine in a crash as they cocoon into their seat, as demonstrated in this video.

Well educated and now confident in her installation skills, Bermudez went home and installed her son’s new car seat.

Fast forward a few months, and the unthinkable happened.

FB_IMG_1448998998538On Dec. 1, Bermudez was driving her car with her mom in the passenger seat, her husband in the back seat on the passenger side, and her son, Luis, snug in his car seat in the middle of the back seat. A pick-up truck ran a red light at 29th and Wilmot causing a T-bone collision. “The impact was so hard, it broke the drive shaft off the truck,” said Bermudez. “The back tires from the truck ran over the front of my car.”

Bermudez and her husband were seriously injured, as was her mom who was trapped against the dash.

Tucson Fire crews responded immediately. “Everything happened so fast and was so surreal, but I do remember the medic asking, ‘who put this car seat in?’ I was scared at first thinking, ‘did I do something wrong?’ Then he told me that it was installed perfectly. He said that when, as first responders, they get called to car accidents where children are involved, the car seat is usually not installed properly, which leads to children being injured. He told me that my son’s car seat took all the impact of the crash. When he told me Luis was OK and that it was only because his car seat was installed properly, I broke down in tears. I was so relieved,” she said.

Luis didn’t even have to go to the hospital for observation. Bermudez, her husband and mom were all transported to the hospital via ambulance while her dad picked up little Luis from the scene.

Bermudez is still nursing an arm injury that may require surgery. Her husband is undergoing surgery for his arm injury and grandma is still suffering from a serious knee injury. But while the physical injuries will take time to heal, and mentally she’s still shaken, Bermudez’s emotional state is solid.

Tucson Police Officer Danny Peralta

Tucson Police Officer Danny Peralta

“I was so relieved that I took the time to get the education and do everything right,” she said, adding that as a mother, she was proud of herself for doing everything she possibly could to protect her baby in a crash. “If I hadn’t taken that class, I’m not sure that my son would be OK today. What Officer Peralta taught me really stuck. And he gave me the confidence to install my son’s car seat for the first time ever. If I hadn’t taken his class, it scares me to think of what may have happened to my son that day.”

TMC offers an assortment of programs for child passenger safety including a car seat loaner program and Children Are Priceless Passengers (CAPP) class, which is held every month in English and Spanish. For just $35, parents can receive life-saving education and an appropriate car seat for their child. TMC also provides free booster seats as part of the Boost Your Booty program.

Additionally, Geico funds a TMC child passenger program, Ride Safe Kids. Classes are held once a month, in English only, where parents can receive education and an appropriate car seat for free. Please call (520) 546-7340 for more information.

Please click here to see KVOA News 4 Tucson’s coverage of the story.

Boosting your knowledge: Which booster seats received top ratings for safety belt fit

If you’re like most parents, you probably found the world of child passenger safety to be a bit like walking into a big box baby store for the first time: completely overwhelming. 

You did research on which infant car seat to buy, consulted parents who had been down that road before, and even read the manual front to back.  But it was still tricky, right?  Then your kiddo enters the next phase which includes a convertible seat.  Rear-facing, forward-facing, LATCH installation, seat belt installation… You made it through that phase and breathed a sigh of relief when you realized your big kid is finally ready for a booster seat.  It’s got to be easier, right?  

That depends on how you look at it.

Child restraint manufacturers continue to roll out new booster seats that do a good job of improving the way an adult safety belt fits a typical booster-age child.  With more options comes – you got it – more research for what will likely be the last car seat your child needs, since car seats or booster seats may not be compatible with all cars.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released its Booster Seat Status Report in an attempt to make it easier for you to figure out which seat provides the best lap and shoulder belt fit for your child in a range of vehicles. 

The lap belt should lie flat and on top of the thighs, not higher up on the abdomen. Courtesy: IIHS

The lap belt should lie flat and on top of the thighs, not higher up on the abdomen.
Courtesy: IIHS

Remember – cars are designed for adults.  According to IIHS, children ages 4-8 in boosters are 45 percent less likely to sustain injuries in crashes than kids restrained by belts alone.  Children who are using improperly fitted belts are at risk of a host of crash injuries known as “seat belt syndrome.”  These include spine injuries and internal organ injuries. 

Booster seat laws vary from state to state and it’s important to know what to do where you live.  In Arizona, booster seats are required for all children ages five to eight who are not taller than 4’9”.  Violators will receive a civil penalty of $50.

The shoulder belt should fit across the middle of the child's shoulder.  Courtesy: IIHS

The shoulder belt should fit across the middle of the child’s shoulder.
Courtesy: IIHS

Boosters help by elevating a child, and guiding the seat belt so that both the lap and shoulder belt fit properly.  That means the lap belt will lie flat across a child’s upper thighs, not across the soft abdomen, and the shoulder belt will cross snugly over the middle of a child’s shoulder – not too close to the child’s neck or too far down on their arm.  Having both the lap and shoulder belt in the proper place offers the best protection in a crash. 

It’s best practice to keep a child seated in the back seat in a 5-point harness for as long as possible, up to the height and weight limits of the seat.  Parents shouldn’t be in a rush to graduate their children to a booster seat.  There are seats on the market that accommodate children up to 90 pounds in harness mode.

The IIHS report, however, only looked at seatbelt fit, and did not involve crash tests.

Each booster seat tested was placed in one of four categories:

▪  BEST BETS are seats that provide good belt fit for typical 4 to 8 year-olds in almost any car, minivan or SUV.
▪  GOOD BETS provide acceptable fit in most cars, minivans or SUVs.
▪  Not recommended don’t provide good belt fit and should be avoided.
▪  Check fit applies to booster seats the Institute has tested that have varied results depending on child size and vehicle model.

Consumers can also search by brand.

In all, there are 58 BEST BET and five GOOD BET boosters for 2013.  “Parents should have an easy time finding a top-rated booster seat since there are more this year than ever before.  At the same time, consumers should continue to consult our ratings before buying because name brand, price and style don’t always equate with proper lap and shoulder belt fit,” said Anne McCartt, IIHS senior vice president for research.

Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW), a global organization that includes our local coalition, Safe Kids Pima County (SKPC), is dedicated to protecting children from unintentional injuries.  SKW issued a statement on the Booster Seat Status Report, saying it applauds the efforts of the IIHS:  “It is important to conduct a thorough evaluation of product safety and proper use of child seats for children of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Parents have a number of choices on how to protect their children when they are passengers in a vehicle.  This list of booster seats offers additional information to help parents check the fit of every seat, even those on the BEST and GOOD list, to be sure it is right for their child.” 

Tucson Medical Center (TMC) is the proud lead agency of SKPC.  For over six years, TMC has been the home of Boost Your Booty.  This program provides free booster seats for children five and older, so call today to make your appointment –  520-324-5604.

Before buying a booster, parents and caregivers should try them out to see if they properly position safety belts on their children in the vehicles they will be riding in.

Certified child passenger safety technicians are also available to help you.  Please click here to find one.

Get an A+ in back-to-school safety with the TMC Security Team

Security_Services_SealsBack-to-school is without a doubt an exciting time for families, but let’s face it – it can also be stressful for parents and children alike.  With multiple schedules to coordinate, lunches to pack, and homework to get done, it’s easy to get caught in the hustle and bustle of the school year and let our guard down when it comes to child safety. 

TMC’s Security Services and the Crime Prevention K9 Unit offer the following information about simple things caregivers can do, and meaningful conversations they can have with the children in their care. 

DPS Sex Offender website

Take a few minutes and locate where registered sex offenders are in your neighborhood, by your child’s school, or any other parts of town you visit frequently.  The Arizona Department of Public Safety created this user-friendly website: http://www.azdps.gov/Services/Sex_Offender/

Analysis from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children found that approximately 32 percent of abduction attempts happened when a child was going to or from school, or a school-related activity.  The five most common tricks used by individuals attempting to abduct a child included offering the child a ride, offering the child candy or sweets, asking the child questions, offering the child money or using an animal to lure them into their car.

     ▪  Tell your children they should never go anywhere with anyone without first getting your permission, even if someone tells them it is an emergency. 
     ▪  Set clear boundaries about the places and homes your child may visit. 
     ▪  Make it a rule for your children to check in with you when they arrive at or depart from a location. 
     ▪  Talk openly with your child. 
          ∙  Encourage them to tell you or another trusted adult if anyone makes them feel scared, confused or sad. 
          ∙  Teach them that it is OK to tell you what happened and they won’t be a “tattletale” for telling.    
          ∙  Help your children identify trusted adults who may be able to help them if they need assistance. 
          ∙  Pay attention to your children and listen to them, as this will help them build feelings of safety and security.

Empower your child with this information in the event they are approached or followed

     ▪  Tell your child it is more important to get out of a threatening situation than it is to be polite.
     ▪  If they are approached by someone who makes them feel uncomfortable, tell them to trust their gut feeling, and get away. 
     ▪  If someone tries to kidnap them, tell them to do anything they can to draw attention to themselves – yell, kick, scream, pull away, or hit.

Getting to and from school safely

School buses are the safest mode of motorized transportation for getting children to and from school, but injuries can occur if kids are not careful and aware when getting on and off the bus.

     ▪  Walk with your child to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. 
     ▪  Make sure children stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches. 
          ∙  Young children do not have the same frame of reference for safety as adults do.
          ∙  They may not look before they leap, which is why it is so important for them to be supervised.
     ▪  Teach kids to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting off, and remind them never to walk behind the bus. 
          ∙  If your child needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, they should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe.
          ∙  Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.

Safe Kids Tucson shares tips to prevent child drowning

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If a mama grizzly is formidable, then just call Cheyenne Arreola a nana grizzly.

 Arreola knocked on doors last weekend to beg, plead and educate neighbors about the risks of child drowning.

 Arreola, whose grandson suffered extensive brain injuries after nearly drowning at a summer camp in 2009, helped organize the city’s first annual citywide water walk with Safe Kids Tucson.

 Roughly 75 volunteers knocked on doors throughout Pima County, reminding families to stay vigilant around water now that warmer weather is here. The volunteers estimated they connected with roughly 4,800 families, handing out tips to prevent child drowning. Tucson Medical Center is the lead agency for Safe Kids Tucson.

Volunteers handed out information promoting ABC’s of Water Safety, with A=Adults, B=Barriers and C=Classes.

Arreola said she not only rounded up volunteers for upcoming water safety events, but also spread the word to families who appreciated the information. “One family’s comment was that it was very timely because they were going to have a pool party that afternoon,” she said.

“It really is such an issue and it affects so many people.”

KVOA and KOLD both ran stories about the effort. To see the coverage, click the links below:

http://www.kvoa.com/news/volunteers-go-door-to-door-to-prevent-child-drownings/

http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/17304324/efforts-to-prevent-drowning-as-weather-gets-warmer

For more information about water safety, visit www.tmcaz.com/SafeKidsTucson or contact the Safe Kids coordinator, Yomaira Diaz, at SafeKidsTucson@tmcaz.com or 324-2959.

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461