It’s Halloween… And there’s some scary stuff out here!

It may be true that we become more skeptical with age, but I was surprised after reading about a new threat to kids’ safety on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Health Beat website.  This is scary!

They’re small and green, but they’re not goblins– and they look like Tic-Tac™ candies. This recent threat to kids’ well being has just made its debut in the over-the-counter purchase-from-the drugstore category. Childsafetyblog.org is speaking of “Nicotine Tablets.” The tablets are flavored with mint or cinnamon and may look like breath mints or candy–and are supposed to aid those who wish to quit smoking by providing nicotine without tobacco smoke. (They also may be sold in a stick form and look like candy cigarettes.)

According to Greg Connolly of Harvard’s School of Public Health in a study published in the journal Pediatrics, if a one-year-old child would consume 10 of the candy-like pellets, “In all likelihood, they are going to have serious neurological problems.”

Apparently, both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are aware of these nicotine tablets. Now, let’s see if they make them “only available by prescription” to adults.

Meanwhile, if your kids go trick-or-treating on Halloween, please review their candy haul.  Ask them to bring the candy home before consuming it, so you can have a good look.

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While we know it’s only just Halloween, people are saying scary things like, “There are only 57 shopping days until Christmas.” As parents, family members, and caregivers begin combing the stores for the best, safest toys, we had better be ready for what’s out there, do our homework, and know how to tackle this safe toy search!

Here are some tips suggested in a recent article by Elizabeth Pantley on buying safe toys for your baby:

  • When you purchase a child’s toy, no matter how bright you believe your little one, note the child’s age ranking on the box.  The age ranking is often there for a safety reason.
  • If a toy is painted, make sure it’s painted with non-toxic paint.
  • If toys have more than one piece, make sure to check for small, loose or detachable pieces that could become separated from the toy and be a choking hazard.
  • Check all children’s toys you purchase for any rough, jagged, or sharp edges, and rusted or broken parts. You can report those toys to the store’s manager. (Managers usually have the power to send faulty products back to the distributors.)
  • Safely pitch any plastic wrapping on children’s toys long before the holidays. Wrap toys in colorful paper yourself.
  • For babies, avoid pull toys with long cords.
  • Never give babies balloon-type toys or toys with inflatable balls which could burst or break off from the toy and become lodged in the throat.
  • If your baby has a toy box in his or her room, make sure it has a safety lid or no lid at all to avoid pinched fingers or hands, or entrapment of the child.

Let’s make childhood less scary and more safe for our kids!

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With appreciation to DHHS HealthBeat website, posting by Ira Dreyfuss, October 29, 2010, and

Just the Facts, Baby’s posting by Elizabeth Pantley, “The Safest Toys for Your Baby”, October 6, 2010.

Graco Recalls Two Million Strollers!

On October 20 in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall of 2 million Graco Quattro™ and MetroLite™ baby strollers by Graco Children’s Products, Inc., of Atlanta,Georgia, due to the possibility of entrapment and strangulation of children, especially infants under one year of age. Four infant deaths that occurred with the use of the strollers during the years 2003 to 2005, as well as five reports of infant entrapment resulting in scrapes and bruises, were cited as the primary reasons for this recall.

The CPSC recalled the Graco Quattro Tour™ and MetroLite™ strollers and travel systems manufactured prior to the existence of the January 2008 voluntary industry standard that dealt with the height of the opening between the stroller tray and the seat bottom. The January 2008 voluntary industry standard requires larger stroller openings to prevent hazards of infant entrapment and strangulation, should a child become entrapped at the neck. The recall involves Graco Quattro Tour ™ strollers and travel systems manufactured prior to 2006 and Graco MetroLite ™ strollers and travel systems manufactured prior to 2007.

The strollers and travel systems were manufactured in China and sold from November 2000 until December 2007 in the U.S. for prices ranging from $100 to $250 at a variety of stores, including Target, Walmart, BabiesRUs, Burlington Coat Factory, Sears, Navy Exchange, AAFES and others.

Consumers may learn the model numbers of recalled strollers by going to http://www.cpsc.gov  or http://www.gracobaby.com    Model numbers of strollers can be located on a label on a lower part of the rear frame above the stroller’s back wheels or beneath the stroller.  Strollers whose model numbers end in “3″ are not affected by this recall.  Also, according to the CPSC, when the stroller is used with the infant car seat, the threat of entrapment or strangulation is not present. Repair kits may be obtained from the manufacturer. To obtain additional information about the recall, the consumer may call Graco at 1-800-345-4109.

The CPSC stated that consumers should immediately refrain from using the recalled products and stressed that it is illegal to attempt to re-sell or to re-sell recalled products.

Parents, family members, and caregivers are cautioned never to leave children unattended when they are in their strollers and always to secure them by using the stroller’s safety harness.

More Recalls and News for Child Safety Blog Fans!

34,000 Bathtub submarine toys were voluntarily recalled October 18, 2010, by CPSC.  Yes, the battery-operated Bathtub Subs™ were made in China and distributed by Munchkin, Inc. of North Hills, California.  The intake valve at the bottom of the toy can “suck up loose skin, posing a laceration hazard to children.” Sadly, before this toy was recalled, 19 incidents of lacerations are known to have occurred.  These toys were sold from November 2009 through September 2010 for approximately $7.  Mass merchandise stores nationwide sold the toy. If you have purchased this toy, you can simply remove and destroy it, or call Munchkin (at 877-342-3134) for information on how to return the toy and receive a replacement toy… Again, this is a real no-brainer, and I have to ask, how did it get on the market in the first place?

Infant Overalls Recalled

CPSC has recalled the following infant and children’s clothing imported from India to Lollytogs Ltd. of New York. They are the Lollytogs Carhartt® infant overalls style numbers GG8500 and GG8501 which the CPSC has determined represent a choking hazard to young children.  The overalls are made of cotton or cotton jersey, in red or brown, and have snaps that can come loose and could be a choking hazard to young children.  The overalls were made in infant sizes 3, 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24 months.  Approximately 8,300 Lollytogs overalls were sold at retailers–again, nationwide–from February 2010 through July 2010 for approximately $25.00.

Consumers should immediately remove the overalls from children’s clothes closets and return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or store credit.  For additional information, consumers may contact Lollytogs at (800) 637-9035. ChildSafetyBlog.org hopes that if parents purchased them, they still have the receipt.

Valco Baby Recalls Jogging Strollers, Tri-Mode Single, and Tri-Mode Twin

Unique Baby Products USA, LLC of Brooklyn, NY, has voluntarily recalled approximately 12,000 of the Valco Baby Tri Mode Single and Twin Jogging strollers made in China, which represent a strangulation and/or entrapment hazard to a child when the child is not harnessed.  The grab bar on the strollers is the focus of the recall. It is an optional part and can be removed from the stroller. You may view affected model numbers of this children’s product on http://www.cpsc.gov

McNeil Cold Medicines for Children Scheduled to Return to the Marketplace

About two weeks ago, it was announced that a limited number of McNeil’s children’s cold medicines (Infants’ and Children’s Tylenol®, Infants’ and Children’s Motrin®, and Children’s Benadryl®) were scheduled to return to the marketplace after a voluntary recall and more than five-month absence.  On October 8th it was announced that McNeil had made label changes and adopted educational initiatives for parents, caregivers, and healthcare professionals, as well as science and surveillance commitments. ChildSafetyBlog.org will keep you posted as it learns whether McNeil’s meds are back on the shelves!

Are You Safe-Riding Your Kids?

In the United States in 2008, according to the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) Encyclopedia of Traffic Accidents, 32,103 occupants of motor vehicles involved in traffic accidents died.  It is sad to project that a significant portion of these deaths were children and some were young children under the age of five (although figures to confirm how many were young children should be available in 2011).  It was startling to learn that 5,312 (or 16.2%) of those deaths were motorcycle accident fatalities.

Today it was announced on NBC29′s TV news channel that over the weekend, a nine-year-old boy riding on the back of his father’s motorcycle in Orange County, Virginia, was killed when a pick-up truck turned into the path of the motorcycle. The father was injured and taken to University of Virginia Hospital.  Sadly, his nine-year-old son, Robert Darwin Pormer, died at the scene.

No one wanted this child to die–not his family, certainly not the driver of the truck, not the rescue squad members nor the law enforcement officials who attended the scene of the accident.  But, in thinking about how this child’s young life was abruptly ended, as parents and caregivers, we seriously need to question the intelligence of putting any young child on the back of a motorcycle.   As in most unfortunate cases of accidents involving children, hindsight can be a sobering 20/20.

And I hope motorcycle aficionados will forgive my candor, but motorcycles have always been dangerous rides–they are dangerous for adults who know and understand what can happen.  They are dangerous with or without helmets and appropriate clothing and footwear. They are dangerous with or without motorcycle riding lessons. They are dangerous on back roads, narrow, winding country roads, on major highways and city streets. Motorcycles–no matter how much they cost, how fancy, shiny or expensive they may be–are simply dangerous, which I’m sure is a part of some of their owners’ thrill and fascination.

If an adult wants to take his or her life in their own hands and take a chance riding a motor- cycle that something bad won’t happen, I guess that’s his or her prerogative, but allowing kids on motorcycles means child protection barriers are down! The last location, as security people say, is the adult family member or friend who allows them to get on the cycle or encourages them to ride.  In my limited view, when it involves young children, certainly kids under 12 years of age, this behavior is permissive and invites disaster.

How well I realize this–in my lifetime, I have lost friends in car and motorcycle accidents–not always because they rode or drove unsafely, many times it was the other vehicle’s driver who erred or didn’t see them.  The week following my high school graduation, our class lost one of its favorite people, a quarterback on the football team, Chuck Gelrich. Chuck was riding his pride and joy–his motorcycle.  Neither my friend Chuck nor young Robert Darwin Pormer can get their lives back, so it’s up to us still on this planet to keep kids safe–and off motorcycles until they are truly adults.

Let’s Take Some of the Scary Out of Halloween 2010!

Pedestrian safety is a huge concern on Halloween.  Did you know that kids are more likely to be hit by cars on Halloween than any other day/night of the year?  To ward off mishaps while our young children are trick-or-treating, it’s a good idea for a parent, family member or trusted adult to go with young children on their rounds.

Creatively dressing children in costumes decorated with or made of reflective materials, including reflective zipper tags and reflectors on their shoes, is a good way to alert drivers to ghouls and goblins on the scariest night of the year.  Kids can carry glo-sticks and reflective trick-or-treat bags (made of paper painted with non-toxic, day-glo type paint), and wear or carry lighted objects that night-time joggers use such as light-pulsing or reflective arm bands to alert drivers that there are pedestrians in non-traditional garb gamboling about.

Parents need to make sure too that kids’ costumes don’t interfere with their breathing (as in face masks or any costume covering the nose and/or mouth), seeing, walking, or going up and down steps.  If kids have difficulty in any of these areas, re-design their head-dress, costume or footwear!  Kids need to be able to clearly see cars, curbs, crosswalks, steps, and uneven sidewalks at night. Also, if you purchase costumes in stores, make sure they are marked “flame resistant.”

Painted Faces! Booooo!

Parents Magazine recently ran a very short article about using Face Paint on Halloween and suggested parents follow these precautions from the Food and Drug Administration:

  • “Double-check that paint ingredients are all FDA-approved (some slip past inspection).  At fda.gov, search for ‘Summary of Color Additives.’
  • “Dab a bit of paint on the inside of your child’s forearm a few days before Halloween. If his or her skin breaks out, skip the face-painting.
  • “Follow instructions for removing paint (usually with mild soap and water).
  • “Avoid using paint (old or new) that smells bad, which could mean it’s contaminated with bacteria. 
  • “Keep paint away from the eyes–it can cause infection.
  • “Don’t leave paint on overnight!

Safety While Trick-or-Treating

Lastly, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) urges parents, family members and caregivers to Know the Rules and follow these Halloween safety tips:

  • “Make sure to accompany younger children to the door of every home they approach, and make sure, as parents and guardians, that you are familiar with every home and all people from which the children receive treats.
  • “Teach children never to enter a home without prior permission from you, their parent or guardian.
  • “Teach children never to approach a vehicle, occupied or not, unless they are accompanied by you, their parent or guardian.
  • “Teach children to stay alert for any kind of suspicious incident and to report any to you, their parent or guardian, immediately.
  • “Teach children that if anyone tries to grab them, to yell loudly, “This person is not my father/mother/guardian!” and resist by running, kicking, and screaming.

ChildSafetyBlog.org agrees that organizing or attending parties at home, in schools, or community centers is a great alternative to Trick or Treating, and we hope all our readers enjoy a safe and happy Halloween!

With appreciation to:

SafeKids World Wide, 2009, http://www.safekids.org/our-work/programs/walk-this-way/halloween.html

Safe Face Paint, Parents Magazine, October 2010, Meredith Corporation, New York, p. 33.

“Know The Rules: Halloween Safety”, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), c. 1990.

Child Passenger Safety Pointers to Note!

Recently, I visited Mineral, a town in Louisa County, Virginia, where in conjunction with Child Passenger Safety Week, the County Sheriff’s Department was providing free Booster Seat Checks at a weekend fall festival to interested parents and caregivers of young children.  All over the United States, SafeKids Coalitions offer this free service by people who are trained to perform booster seat checks to make driving with children as safe as possible!

Do you know that every person on every car ride needs to use a car seat, booster seat, or safety belt that’s right for his or her weight and height? Infants from birth to at least age 1 and 20 lbs. need to use a rear-facing car seat properly placed in the back seat of the vehicle each time a baby rides.  Since your baby is weighed every time you visit your pediatrician or family doctor, keeping track of your baby’s weight will help you select and use the right car seat for your baby’s height and weight.

Placement of your baby’s car seat is important too!  The car seat must not move more than 1 inch side to side or front to back.  Locate the frontal air bags in your vehicle (by checking your car’s owner’s manual) and never place the rear-facing car seat in front of an active airbag.

Make sure to read your car or booster seat’s instructions and use the car’s safety belt or LATCH system to lock the car seat in place in the car.  Grabbing the car seat at the safety belt or LATCH path is one way to test the seat’s placement.  Make sure the car seat’s harnesses are through the slots and even with or below the infant’s shoulders. The harness should be tight enough that you cannot pinch extra webbing at the shoulder. The chest clip should be adjusted to the child’s armpit level.

All children under age 13 are advised to ride in the back seat.  Children from 40 to 80 pounds and up to 100 pounds need to use a booster seat correctly in the back seat on each car ride. Toddlers, older than age 1 and weighing more than 20 pounds can use a forward-facing car seat, again in the back seat, every time the toddler rides in the car.  A child is too big for a booster seat when their shoulders are above the top slots, the tops of the ears are above the back of the seat or the weight limit is exceeded. Then you will need to graduate the child to a taller car seat or booster seat.  Many children will outgrow the harness of a forward-facing car seat at age 4 or 5.

As a good role model for your children, www.childsafetyblog.org encourages you to wear your safety belt and make sure all the occupants of your vehicles wear safety belts correctly every time you drive, ride, or transport others.

If you want to learn more about Child Passenger Safety, please visit www.usa.safekids.org

Also please check out this very good video about the importance of getting a Booster Seat Check on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sW2E-idJOGk  Call your local area law enforcement or your state’s Division of Motor Vehicles’ office to learn where and when you can get a car/booster seat check to keep your kids safe!

And until next time, have a safe week!

Major Recall of Fisher-Price Children’s Toys and Products by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; Infant Sleep Positioners Are Recalled As Dangerous!

Scrutiny of Fisher-Price toys by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) has resulted in multiple voluntary recalls announced this morning:

Seven million (in the U.S.) and 150,000 in Canada) children’s 3-wheel bicycles known as tricycles or “Tough Trikes” for toddlers, are being recalled due to a protruding plastic ignition “key”. The key is believed to cause serious injuries to young children if they sit, strike or fall on it. The trikes were manufactured for Fisher-Price in Mexico. For additional information about the trike recall or obtaining a replacement key, consumers may contact Fisher-Price at (800) 432-5437 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s website at www.service.mattel.com

2.8 Million other children’s toy products manufactured for Fisher Price, which contain parts that could be choking hazards in children’s aquariums, a toy called “Bat n’ Feather,” and toys containing detachable parts and small inflatable balls are also being recalled.  These toys were manufactured for Fisher Price and called Baby Playzone™ Crawl & Cruise Playground™, Baby Playzone™ Crawl & Slide Arcade™ and Baby Gymtastics™ Play Wall were made in Mexico. The Ocean Wonders™ Kick & Crawl™ Aquarium, 1-2-3 Tetherball™ and Bat & Score Goal™ and were made in China. Photos of these toys can be viewed at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10362.html

100,000 Fisher Price toys sold under the name “Little People Wheelies Stand n’ Play Rampway,” which contain two small cars that can become detached, were recalled as possible choking hazards to young children. This children’s toy was manufactured in Mexico.

Among other Fisher-Price children’s products being recalled today are 950,000 children’s high chairs, marketed under product names such as “Healthy Care,” “Easy Clean,” and “Close to Me,” due to a clip on the back of the chairs used to retain the high chair trays when not in use.  The clip apparently is sharp and represents a laceration to toddlers.

The Fisher-Price and Mattel websites have published the serial numbers of the toys being recalled today. Consumers of these products are urged to visit these websites and check to learn if they have products with the listed serial numbers and for the recall instructions.

ChildSafetyBlog.org intends to remain vigilant and will continue to post recall notices as they become available!

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Infant Sleep Positioners Are Recalled As Dangerous!

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued a warning to parents and caregivers to immediately stop using, not to purchase and/or to return any infant sleep positioner currently being used by parents and caregivers for infants.

Sleep positioners, both “flat mat” or “inclined wedge” styles, have been determined to be dangerous and may cause suffocation of an infant. During the past 13 years, the CPSC and FDA have received reports of 12 deaths resulting from their use.  The urgent warning to parents and caregivers on CPSC.gov reads as follows:

“CPSC and the FDA are warning parents and child care providers to:

  • STOP using sleep positioners. Using a positioner to hold an infant on his or her back or side for sleep is dangerous and unnecessary.
  • NEVER put pillows, infant sleep positioners, comforters, or quilts under a baby or in a crib.
  • ALWAYS place an infant on his or her back at night and during nap time. To reduce the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends placing infants to sleep on their backs and not their sides.” Even  manufacturers of sleep positioners that have not been approved by the FDA have also been urged to stop manufacture until they submit their products to the FDA for a pre-market review and have obtained approval of their product.

Photos of sleep positioners can be viewed at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml10/10358.html