September is National Baby Safety Month. Each year, approximately 2.5 million babies are injured in accidents at home. Many of these accidents are preventable. MySafeHome.org is just one place where you can go to learn how to protect your little ones...but the trick really is diligence and consistency. I know it is easy to get lax or claim "oh, just this once...." I was hoping that you, dear readers, would oblige us and share either an item of safety gear or resource that you found especially useful or a story about child safety or preventable injury? I can't wait to hear from you all!
Lately I've had some bad experiences with hot items. First it was a burn from a clothes iron to the inside of my right forearm. Barely a second of contact left me with lots of pain and eventually a nice little scar. Then, yesterday, I was startled while pulling bacon out of the oven and the result was grease poured all over the same forearm. You can see the damage in the picture below - which was taken this morning after all the redness had dissipated. Luckily I got my arm under some running cool water very quickly and A&D ointment (applied later) has worked wonderfully. The pain was intense, but subsided within an hour or so after some advil and the ointment. The nasty part is the few little blisters that now adorn what was the tender new skin just barely healed from the last burn. So people...the point is....burns are bad, hot grease (or hot anything for that matter) present opportunities for serious injury (I'm happy to get away with just this) - so be careful, watch out, be diligent in watching children and teaching them the risks, and learn about what to do in the case of accidental burns and ways to avoid them. You can visit usburn.org to learn how to prevent burns and how to care for them or here.
Okay, so when we took our vacation at some really busy amusement parks, we did this the ghettotastic way and just wrote the phone number on their forearms with permanent marker (which by the way, turns out isn't so permanent when applied after sunscreen) Still, the point is, it can be very helpful to have some identification or information somewhere on small children in the event that they get separated from their parents in situations like this. You can do it our way :) or thankfully there are plenty of other options out there for cool temporary safety tattoos like here (my fave) and here and here.
With the hot weather finally here, our family's plans include hitting the pool, the pool, the pool! The American Red Cross website has safety tips and precautions for every conceivable manner you might be enjoying the water this summer, whether boating on a lake, swimming in the ocean, snorkeling, water parks, or a backyard pool and more - check it out and be safe!
When it comes to safety, research is continuing to point us towards new recommendations for children. For example, we now sleep babies on their backs instead of on their stomachs (as many of us slept) due to reducing the risk of SIDS. Here are just a few that you (or the baby's grandparents) may not yet be familiar with:
My daughter Hope had two separate run-ins with some poorly behaving children at the playground recently. The first was when she was waiting politely to ask a girl (who was climbing up and down the slide repeatedly) if she might have a turn, but before she got the chance to even approach the girl, the girl came bolting at Hope for no reason - stopping an inch from her face to yell menacingly. My daughter's feelings were so hurt. Secondly, a little boy pushed Hope from the ladder, landing her on her butt on the ground - and then lied about it repeatedly. In both cases, any parents were either completely absent from the scene or totally disinterested in being involved in any way. Clearly, I am not going to allow the safety of my own children to be jeopardized...but when otherwise is it okay to step in and deal with another child's behavior? I don't want to lash out in an emotionally driven response to another child and I do want to leave room for my children to learn to deal with things by themselves (I don't want to be the playground police). But what is the correct response for dealing with children who are making playground time miserable for the other kids present and whose parents don't care? My daughters are still learning how to deal with this kind of thing, how do I best stand up for them in the meantime?
Warmer weather means moms and dads doing yard work and little kids playing outside, so I thought a post on poison ivy might be helpful. It was spurred on by the fact that I have a little bit on my elbow that I can't figure out for the life of me how it got there. Unfortunately, I am spectacularly sensitive to this plant. Here are just a few facts to keep in mind and I'll follow up later with a chart on identifying the culprit.
Convenient, perhaps - but not only unhealthy for our planet, but unhealthy for our bodies as well in some instances. I've been thinking more about plastics lately and thought I'd share some info. We've never been buyers of plastic water bottles or big users of plastic wrap and I don't use plastic in the microwave...but I did learn a few new things recently that are kind of disconcerting. Here are the numbers you need to watch out for (look for them inside the triangle marked on the bottom of containers) and a few common uses.
The risk with these plastics is that they either are carcinogenic, contain bisphenol-a (BPA) which mimics estrogen and therefore may induce hormonal responses or have other phthalates (used to make plastic flexible) which pose a similar risk. These plastics can leach into food products, etc...and are ingested or sometimes inhaled. The one I found most surprising was the metal can liners - that is if you buy canned goods, the lining meant to protect you and the food from the metal of the can is potentially dangerous - and it is present in nearly every can (not just the ones lined with white, but the coating is clear).
Yikes! what an issue...but it's on my mind, so I'm going to say something. I don't know where you stand - but just so you know where I'm coming from: I find no redeeming quality about porn at all, it is easily damaging to every relationship and unholy. That being said, it is also easily accessed by children. Ben wrote a pertinent post here about protecting his young sons from porn and an elementary-age incident of accidentally coming across some while playing outside. As a result of this post, he garnered several comments from others who had similar accidental experiences. Having young daughters, I hadn't really given much thought to this yet...but Ben's post got me thinking. When I was also in elementary school, a friend and I came across a stack of magazines while rummaging through one of her parent's drawers. While visiting a distant family member at age 13, I noticed that there was a Playboy magazine in the stack in the bathroom, and when I was a teenager, I noticed that a local convenience store displayed porn magazines for sale in full view and I discovered that the boy I was dating also had a personal stash. Every one of those instances was totally unintentional. But now, if a child is lucky enough to never happen across a piece of printed porn, they are still just a very few clicks away from it on the web - and the incidence of accidentally accessing porn on the internet is very high. The average age for first internet porn exposure is 11 years old, the median age for a person's first use of pornography is between 11-14 years (for boys and girls!). It seems a very important issue to talk to our children about and I wonder if you have considered those conversations or if you have had them and what your thoughts about that are.
I agree that toy boxes seem like a really great idea, because we know the accumulation of toys which begin to take over the homes of small children and the inevitable lack of storage solution. But I'm a big proponent of staying away from the toy box idea and aiming towards anchored shelving, drawers, cabinets, and smaller bins. Here's why:
My good friend had a hair-raising, potentially devastating incident this past week - and I am so glad that she and her kids are uninjured. She was kind enough to think of us all and sent some important information about her experience to me so that I might post it here for you. Thanks Kitty!
I honestly have a friend whose accelerator got stuck while she was driving down the road with her three beautiful kids strapped into the back seats last week!!! Miraculously she was able to eventually stop the car without anyone getting hurt. Still, it got me thinking about car safety again. Did you know that it is estimated that 2 out of every 3 car seats is used improperly? The American Academy of Pediatrics has an extremely comprehensive guide here that will provide the answers to any questions you might have and provide you with information you may not even be aware of! If you have children under 12 yrs. of age, please read through this. I wish you all safe traveling!
You know you've been there - especially if you have more than one child....that tiny event when you need to briefly manage something while getting in or out of the car which requires your young child to wait momentarily. And you are wondering if it is in that one second that your kid will decide to bolt out into the path of a moving vehicle. I've got some routines down now which avoid this scenario as much as possible and I've done a good amount of work teaching my children to be careful of areas designed for traveling cars...but here's a tip we've used frequently and it has worked really well (I'm sure another mom passed it onto me, but I can't remember). We taught our children that whenever they get out of the car or are waiting to get in, they must keep "one hand on the car" at all times. I've repeated that phrase a million times by now! One hand gets glued to the car, giving them plenty of wiggle room for their energetic little bodies, but also a very concrete safety rule to follow. And the rule remains until a parent can grab hold of one of their hands to "release" them.
We needed to buy some new strands of lights for our Christmas tree this year, and while carefully reading the instructions I came across this - "Caution: Handling the coated electrical wires of this product exposes you to lead, a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash hands thoroughly after use." Who knew? We bought two different kinds of lights, and this warning was only on one of them, however.
Here is a list of 2007's top ten unsafe toys found right now on store shelves, compiled by Don Keenan, of Keenan's Kids Foundation, who is a child advocate and attorney. Also, if you are a mom who is worried about toys imported from China and have decided to avoid them, here is a site sent to me by my friend Kim, which may also just simply prove helpful in choosing gifts for your little loved ones this Christmas. Here is where you can go to find all recent recalls too.
Okay, I admit that playgrounds make me terribly nervous - and I still let my kids play on them. They do wear helmets when they ride their bikes, and they DEFINITELY have had a fair share of purpley bruises to crown their shiny foreheads...but still, am I crazy for thinking this is a bit ridiculous?
I'm sending this friendly (and deadly serious) reminder to you and to everyone out there. When we've been driving for a while, it's easy to take it for granted and not realize the devastating potential we are wielding. My little sister just recently got her permit - aced the test by answering all those questions about what percentage of speed you should slow down in the rain and in the snow, etc.... - those things we all pridefully ignore sometimes. I remember when I was first learning to drive my mom telling me something along the lines of treating my vehicle with the respect of a weapon because I was wielding something which had the potential to kill. I've watched the videos - I know what a car can do at 35 miles per hour - not to mention 60 or 80. Having kids though, well let's just say it takes my safe-driving agenda to a whole different level. And - ahem - living in this area, I feel constantly surrounded by a whirlwind of impatient, pushy drivers. Let's own up and take some adult responsibility for this - 'cause when I'm on the road with my cubs in the backseat, driving like a maniac around me is like messing with a riled up mama lioness. I can't say I'm a perfect driver....but I will tell you honestly that I have never had a speeding ticket nor have I ever been in an accident. I take driving very seriously (just ask my husband who gets chewed out practically every time he whips out his phone or other gadget while driving)...if I can do it, so can you!
Defensive Driving: 70 rules to live by