Halloween Safety Tips from Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County

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.

Do I need a fence for the inflatable above-ground pool? Pediatric Emergency Notes

Do I need a fence for our above ground pool? Drowning prevention,We don’t have a built-in pool at our home, but we often use a little splash pool which got me to thinking about the safety of above-ground pools — you know, the sort that just go up for the summer, whether rigid sides or inflatable, and come down when school is back in session.

As a pediatric emergency department nurse I’ve seen my fill of child drowning victims and so I tend to be hypervigilant around pools. The absolutely crushing part about drownings is that they are nearly always preventable.

I asked Jessica Mitchell, Safe Kids Pima County coordinator, what the rules are regarding fencing and general safety practices around temporary above-ground pool structures.

“The law…oh the law on pools! It can be so confusing. Pretty much, if you have a pool that is taller than 18 inches and wider than 8 feet intended for swimming, it requires a fence/barrier that is at least 5 feet tall with a self-closing or self-latching gate. The entire law for pools can be found on the Arizona government pages“ Jessica shares.

“Mesh fencing is a great option for those with above-ground temporary pools because when the pool comes down, the mesh fence can also come down. There is one exception to having to put up a pool fence, and that is if everyone in the household is 6 years or older, no safety measures need to be in place. This doesn’t mean this is the safest option. Not everyone over the age of 6 can swim, and even swimmers can get into difficulty in a pool.

“If you decide to get a temporary above-ground pool make sure you have a fence at least 5 feet tall with a self-latching gate. Make sure your child cannot use a chair or other item to climb over the barrier or to unlatch the gate. And emphasize to all kids and adults that the gate is not to be propped open.”

Also, we worry most about pool mishaps in the summer, but be vigilant all year for drowing hazards. Empty the cooler of melted ice water; dispose of the bucket of mop water; drain the bathtub (and never leave your toddler or pre-schooler in the tub unsupervised). Unfortunately, we see all these drowning scenarios in the emergency department.

Whether it’s in the pool, the ocean or the bathtub, you will not hear a child drowing. Drowning is silent … keep your eyes on your child.

This summer we’re going to follow all the advice above as well as the ABCs of pool safety whether it’s a splash pool or a regular pool:

“A” is for Adult Supervision

Always have an adult watching the pool, not reading, not looking at their phone, not taking an afternoon siesta – just watching the kids in the pool. Go ahead and take turns if it’s a social gathering, but make sure that the designated adult knows the rules. Better yet, consider hiring a trained lifeguard. While it seems like the more adults who around, the better. But the reality is that it seems to be the opposite – everyone thinks someone else is wathcing. Make hiring a lifeguard a part of your pool-party budget.

Jessica also wanted to remind folks that floaties are toys and not safety devices. If you have a life vest, they need to be the right size, and they are not a substitute for adult supervision.

“B” is for Barrier

Yes, even with an above-ground temporary pool that you picked up for $75 you want a barrier. It can be mesh; it just has to be at least 5 feet tall and have a self-latching gate. Even if your kids are over the age of 6, what about the neighbors or the grandkids? Make sure the barrier isn’t compromised – there aren’t any chairs or trash cans that can be dragged over to act as a ladder, and that nobody props open the gate.

“C” is for Classes

Tucson has lots of great options for swim classes including Vest it Up!  TMC for Children and Credit Unions for Kids offer FREE year-round swim lessons at dates, times and locations that meet the needs of busy families. These free lessons are at local YMCA locations and include a free personal flatation device, or PFD. This U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest for kids is provided to kids completing swim classes. The free classes are available to the first 400 kids each year between 4-17 years old.  Register here for Vest it Up!

I have a few additional thoughts:

Having a party? Hire a lifeguard.

It seems like the more adults are around to watch the better right? But in reality it seems to work in the opposite way. Everyone thinks someone else is watching. Make hiring a lifeguard part of your pool party budget.

It’s not just pools and it’s not just summer time

We worry especially in the summer when kids are in the pool, but be vigilant all year. Empty the cooler of melted ice water, dispose of the bucket of mop water, drain the bathtub (and never leave your baby, toddler or preschooler in the bathtub unsupervised.) Unfortunately, we see all these drowning scenarios in the emergency department.

Eyes peeled

Whether it is in the pool, the ocean or the bathtub you will not hear your child drowning. Drowning is a silent affair…keep your eyes on your child.

Hope your summer is splashing good fun.

Stay safe,
Melissa

P.S. Did you know that the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona provides pool safety checks? Request one here 

Melissa HodgesPediatric Emergency Notes from Melissa
Melissa Hodges is a pediatric emergency room RN and mom to two young boys. Melissa has been at Tucson Medical Center for 10 years. She is a knitting ninja apprentice who makes a mean chili and enjoys spending time with her family and friends in beautiful Tucson, Arizona.

Drivers beware of ghouls and goblins

halloween drivingSo Halloween isn’t your thing. Your plan for Halloween evening involves turning off all the lights, disabling the front door bell and retreating to the back of the house where you can’t be bothered by an incessant stream of trick-or-treaters. Perhaps Halloween is your favorite holiday and your household is so frantic with anticipation, you’ve even taken the day off work to prepare! Whether you’re a lover of all things Halloween or not, whether you have kids or not, we have a special plea for tomorrow – Pay particular care while driving tomorrow.

Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween as on any other day of the year. Take particular care this Halloween with these tips from Safe Kids Pima:

  1. Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
  2. Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
  3. Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
  4. Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
  5. Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
  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.

Safe Kids Pima County is a network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 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.

 

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.

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.

Become a life-saver, register now for certified child passenger safety technician class in May

The Hamilton's van after the accident

The Hamilton’s van after the accident

Anne Hamilton was on a road trip with her three small children when the Tujunga, Calif. family’s van hit debris in the road sending it airborne. The vehicle then hit the guardrail, spun across the highway into a ditch, hit a rock and flipped over landing on its roof. Emergency responders said when they see vehicles as crushed as the Hamilton’s, they assume any children inside are dead.

Despite the high impact forces at play, Hamilton’s children lived and escaped major injury. Hamilton is convinced it was her training as a certified child passenger safety technician that made the difference.

“As soon as I became aware that car crashes are the biggest killer of American children, it made sense to me to learn exactly how to protect my babies properly,” she said.

Empower yourself. A national standardized child passenger safety training class is available May 27-30 and is open to everyone.

The Hamilton girls Emma (6), Bridget (4) and Maggie (2)

The Hamilton girls
Emma (6), Bridget (4) and Maggie (2)

Hamilton’s 4-year-old daughter, Bridget, was closest to the impact and suffered a broken leg. Six-year-old Emma only had some bruising and 2-year-old Maggie was completely unscathed. Hamilton and her family were better prepared than most for what could have been a devastating scenario. As a certified child passenger safety tech, Hamilton’s children were buckled up properly. The car seats were installed correctly, whereas some 85 percent of car seats are not. Properly installed car seats reduce fatal injury by more than 70 percent for infants and by 54 percent for children through age 4.

The four-day class covers the damage crash forces can cause to a child, the different types of seatbelts and restraints, the different challenges of installing a car seat with so many choices available – not  to mention the different vehicles on the market. The class also covers the safest places for children in a vehicle, what to do if multiple children needed secured, legally what you are allowed to do and not do when checking seats. And more.

The training is being offered through Safe Kids Pima County, as a program of Safe Kids Worldwide, and is considered the gold standard of child passenger safety. Space is limited.

National Standardized Child Passenger Safety Training Class
Tuesday, May 27 – Friday, May 30, 2014

▪ Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday class time: 8 am – 5 pm
▪ Friday hands-on demo: 8 am – 1 pm
▪ Classes are held at TPD’s Miracle Mile Substation
▪ 1310 W. Miracle Mile
▪ Cost: $85

You must attend all four days.

To enroll: http://cert.safekids.org/log
Safe Kids Course #AZ20140303224
Questions? Eric Bejarano, Safe Kids Pima County, Motor Vehicle Safety Rep. – Eric.Bejarano@tucsonaz.gov

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.


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