Fire Belongs in the Hearth This Holiday Season!

The holiday season  in the United States of America is close at hand, a time when families will gather in homes across the country–and think of our loved ones who may be far away or absent, give thanks for what we have, invite others into our homes, and cook and serve some great food dishes.  For some families, it is a time of football rivalries and parade watching. For many young mothers and fathers, it’s a bit stressful trying to keep family traditions going while managing children and guests and preparing the holiday meal at the same time.

Childsafetyblog.org wants to remind parents that amid all the planning and preparation over the holidays they shouldn’t lose sight of safety, especially fire safety.  This week in a local SafeKids Coalition meeting, we learned that the numbers of home fires throughout the year in the U.S. spike to three times the norm over the Thanksgiving holiday.   Everyone needs to be concerned about the increased odds that there could be a fire in our own communities and neighborhoods, not to mention in our own homes, if we don’t pay attention to some fire safety basics.

Below are some good, basic safety tips for the holidays to help avoid fires and burns while cooking, including some from Underwriters Laboratories:

  • Un-clutter the stove top. Try to keep your stove top clear of too many dishes, pots, and pans.  That’s difficult considering you may be cooking for the great horde–possibly make a few things ahead… refrigerate and re-heat.
  • We’ve noted this previously but it bears repeating:

DO NOT HOLD A CHILD IN ONE ARM WHILE COOKING WITH THE OTHER!

  • Do not pour water on a hot greasy pot or pan–it may splatter right back in your face!  Cool the pan first before immersing it in warm water.
  • Never pour water on a grease fire!  Turn off the burner, using an oven mitt place a lid on the burning pan to smother the flames and let the pan cool completely before touching it!
  • Avoid using a turkey fryer at all cost!  While frying turkeys has become popular in recent years, doing so has become one of the most typical factors in fires and burns at Thanksgiving.  If you don’t believe this and need more convincing, please check out the following video on YouTube (it pretty much tells the story): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHD61SGufqM
  • Never place a glass casserole dish or lid on a stove or over a burner!  It may explode and send shards of glass flying in all directions.
  • Always stay in the kitchen while the food is cooking!  Have someone else periodically inform you of the game’s scores if you’re not near the TV!
  • If you are using electrical appliances to prepare your holiday meals, such as slow cookers, electric carving knives, food processors and other peripheral cooking appliances, like hot plates, juicers, blenders, etc., look for the UL markon the appliance. Manufacturers use the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark to indicate that the electrical appliance meets specific safety standards.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen–and know how to use it! Remember: PASS… Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep!  Pull the pin, aim the nozzle, squeeze the nozzle and sweep the spray back and forth while aiming at the base of the fire!
  • Never wear loose clothing while cooking! 
  • Never lean over a stove burner when it is on or hot!
  • Never pass a hot dish or pitcher of hot liquid over a child’s head or hands!
  • Turn all pot and pan handles away from you
  • Make sure there are good batteries in your smoke alarms! (We hope you did this, when you set your clocks back an hour a couple of weeks ago. If you didn’t, do it now!)
  • Unplug small appliances which are not in use. You’ll save energy and eliminate the possibility they will automatically come on and overheat without your knowledge.

As always, Childsafetyblog.org wishes you a safe and happy holiday season.

Recognizing Troubling Toys for Tots!

The day after Thanksgiving is well known as the biggest holiday shopping day of the year!  It’s a day when extreme sales are offered shoppers, some beginning in the wee hours of the morning!  Childsafetyblog.org has learned that there are some troubling toys on the shelves and wants to alert you to the ones we already know about and make sure you know what to look for in safety features for your children’s toys.

As you and your family members shop for children’s toys, we hope you will evaluate the toys being marketed for children’s use carefully, purchasing only the toys which are prescribed for your children’s ages and skill levels–there are reasons some toys are designated for 5-year-olds and not for those under 3; many of those reasons are for children’s safety.

It is important for parents and those purchasing children’s toys to note whether a toy has any detachable part that could be swallowed, whether it is sharp or makes noises which are too loud, whether it functions as it should, whether it has inflatable balls or beads, contains lead paint or cadmium or antimony–all of these things have become important watch words to child safety in recent days.  If there are loose parts, hinges or seats, as in the case of some cribs, strollers, and high chairs, parents need to refrain from purchasing the childhood furniture.  Parents need to use their best judgment when purchasing toys for use by children.

Here are only a few toys listed on the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s (http://www.uspirg.org ) website as having been recalled in the past year due to safety factors–Parents can also check http://www.cpsc.gov for toys which have been recalled:  Any manufacturer’s) Children’s sweatshirts with hoods with drawstrings (strangulation hazard);

“Action Team” Toy Dart Gun set (choking hazard);

“Best Friends” Charm Bracelet Sets (high levels of cadmium, made in China);

“Big Rex and Friends” Cloth Books (high level of lead in the red dot in the book, imported from China);

“Fly Dragonfly” Remote Control Helicopters (Fire hazard–the battery in the helicopter can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards to a child; made in China for ImagineNation Books);

High Speed “Pull Back” Toy Cars (high level of lead in the paint on the toy; made in China imported to the U.S.);

2011 Model Year Giant Bicycles (the frame can crack at the union of the seat post and top tube posing a fall hazard to riders; made in Taiwan)

Allreds Design Baby Bracelets and Pacifier Clips (high levels of lead; made in Utah, U.S.A.)

There are more toys on the US PIRG list–and there is an entire report released November 23, 2010, the 25th Annual “Trouble in Toyland” Report in PDF format which can be downloaded and read by parents and those purchasing children’s toys this holiday season.

CNN’s T.J. Holmes also noted today that two children’s toys specifically were cited by the U.S. PIRG as “troubling” and they include the Dora, The Explorer™ Backpack and the Fisher-Price “Let’s Get Building” toy.  There are a variety of factors that parents should check about most toys on the market.  Noting where a toy was manufactured lately seems to have a bearing on its probable safe use by children. The United States’ standards are high when it comes to kids’ toys. And parents can report unsafe toys to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to help to keep the U.S. toy manufacturers’ standards high.  Visit http://www.cpsc.gov to view recalled toys and learn how to report an unsafe toy.

If you, as a parent or caregiver, don’t think it looks safe for a child to use, it probably isn’t.  But even when you think it is safe, it’s best to check the toy thoroughly and monitor the child’s use of the toy if you do purchase it.

Asthma and Obesity in Children–Parents Pay Attention!

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says obesity is a serious health concern for young children.  Results of the 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) point out that in U.S. children (2-19), 17 percent of children were found to be obese.[1]  Recently, some studies have shown that there is a real link between obesity and asthma in children.[2]

The incidence of asthma in the general  population in the U.S. increased significantly from 1986 to 2005[3], and obesity, also known to mechanically compromise proper function of the lungs and airways, is associated with asthma-related inflammation. Among pre-school age children 2-5 years of age, obesity also increased significantly from 5 to 10.4% between 1976-1980 and 2007-2008.[4]  Other conditions in children, such as high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and hyperinsulinemia, have also been observed on the increase and are associated with asthma in children.[5]  Dr. Deana Ferreri draws the conclusion that regardless of body weight, “the standard American diet is likely taking its toll on lung function”[6] in our children.

Certainly, there are things that parents can do to keep asthma in check when children have been diagnosed with asthma, such as keeping children’s prescriptions current, choosing their activities wisely and making sure children do not become overexerted, and watching out for things which trigger asthma, like pet dander and other allergens. However, scientific research and studies like NHANES are also pointing the finger at young children’s diet toward keeping it healthful to ward off conditions like asthma and obesity.

We note in the news this week that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors are continuing to take action to ban fast food companies from placing toys in so-called “Happy Meals™” sold in fast food restaurants in San Francisco.  McDonald’s and other fast-food chain restaurants are pushing back through the National Fast Food Restaurant Association’s efforts.  But the point is the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is leading the charge to get fast food restaurants to reformulate their “happy” meals to exclude toys (which encourage children to request the typically high calorie-high fat meals) but to include more healthy foods that contain less grams of saturated fats.  Madelyn Furnstrom on MSNBC stated today with regard to children’s meals containing saturated fats, that parents don’t even know what’s going on!

ChildSafetyBlog.org concurs with CDC and wants to make sure that parents and caregivers of young children know eating healthfully as a young child paves the way for a child’s healthy growth–and may help to stave off childhood obesity and other conditions, such as asthma.


[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obesity and Overweight for Professionals, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity,  2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES),

[2]Disease Proof: Eat Smart, Live Happy, “Childhood Diet Linked to Asthma Prevalence”, Deana Ferreri, Ph.D., September 27, 2010.

[3] Ibid.

[4] CDC, op. cit.

[5] Op Cit.

[6] Ibid.

Expanded Recall of Roman Shades, Roll-up Blinds and Roller Blinds due to Strangulation Hazards!

Recently, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has expanded an earlier recall of Roman shades, roll-up blinds and roller blinds manufactured by Hanover Direct/Domestications.  Hanover Direct of Weehawken, New Jersey– also known as Domestications, The Company Store, and Company Kids– voluntarily added its company name to a December 2009 recall of approximately 495,000 Roman shades and 28,500 roll-up/roller blinds, due to the strangulation death of a child which occurred in May 2010.

Roman shades, roll-up blinds and roller blinds each are considered to have strangulation hazards for young children. An incident specifically involving Roman shades was reported in May 2010 as the cause of death of a 22-month old child in Iowa.  The cords of the shades give the most cause for concern. According to the CPSC, with Roman shades, “Strangulations can occur when a child places his/her neck between the exposed inner cord and the fabric on the backside of the blind or when a child pulls the cord out and wraps it around his/her neck.”

With roll-up blinds, CPSC says, “Strangulations can occur if the lifting loops slide off the side of the blind and a child’s neck becomes entangled on the free-standing loop or if a child places his/her neck between the lifting loop and the roll-up blind material.” And with roller blinds, “Strangulations can occur if the blind’s continuous loop bead chain or continuous loop pull cord is not attached to the wall or the floor with the tension device provided and a child’s neck becomes entangled in the free-standing loop.”

The recall concerns all styles of Roman shades with inner cords, all styles of roll-up blinds, and roller blinds that do not have a tension device. (The tension device is intended to be attached to the continuous loop bead chain or continuous loop pull cord and installed into the wall or floor.)

The CPSC advises consumers to STOP USING any and all Roman shades with inner cords, all roll-up blinds, and all roller blinds that do not have a tension device.  Consumers may contact the Window Covering Safety Council at (800) 506-4636 anytime for free repair kits or visit www.windowcoverings.org.

Consumers who have roller blinds with a tension device should make sure the tension device is attached to the continuous loop bead chain or continuous loop pull cord and is installed into the wall or floor.

For additional information, Hanover Direct/Domestications can be reached on

(800) 453-1106 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. EasternTime seven days a week, or consumers may visit the company’s websites at www.domestications.com or www.hanoverdirect.com

Photographs of each of these types of Roman shades, roll-up blinds and roller blinds may be viewed at the U.S. CPSC.gov website: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml11/11036.html

Let’s Get It Right: Booster and Car Seat Inspections!

Motor vehicle injuries are the number one cause of death in children in the United States.1 Many deaths caused by motor vehicle injuries are preventable. Making certain children are placed in age- and size-appropriate car and booster seats reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half.2

Dr. Arlene Greenspan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that crashes are among the leading causes of kids’ deaths and injuries. In the U.S., crashes kill approximately 550 children up to 9 years old, and send almost 220,000 to emergency rooms with injuries.  Dr. Greenspan says safety seats can reduce these numbers, if booster and car seats are used properly:

“Parents often move their child into the next stage of car seat too early. Parents make mistakes in the way they install car seats. And parents may strap their children into the car seat too loosely or incorrectly.”3

The statistics and the warnings are fairly well publicized. ChildSafetyBlog.org continues to observe that faulty booster and car seats are being recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the manufacturers. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) also alerts people through recall and defect notices.

Here is the most recent recall notice ChildSafetyBlog has received from NHTSA for faulty booster seats:

“Britax is recalling certain Britax Chaperon infant car seats model E9L69N9 Moonstone, E9L69P2 Red Mill, E9L69P3 Savannah, and E9L69P5 Cowmooflage, manufactured from April 2009 through May 2010. The chest clip was incorrectly produced which could result in a more brittle chest clip than was intended. As a result, the chest clip which positions the harness straps across the infant’s shoulders may break when the chest clip is engaged as the infant is secured into the infant car seat. The sharp edges of the broken chest clip could create a risk of a skin laceration and the fractured components of the chest clip may present a small parts/choking hazard. Britax will mail to consumers notice and remedy kits that contain a replacement chest clip and instruction sheet. The safety campaign is expected to begin on or about November 11, 2010. Owners may contact Britax Customer Service Department at 1-888-427-4829.”4

So with all these facts accessible to parents and caregivers, why in the U.S., as during 2008, should 968 children ages 14 years and younger die as occupants in motor vehicle crashes? During that same period, approximately 168,000 children 14 and under were injured. Why, in one year, did more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 ride in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time?  As parents and caregivers, we need to get a better handle on getting booster and car seat inspections, NOW!

A certified car inspection station can show parents, family members and caregivers how to properly install and adjust booster and car seats and how to place children in them safely.  Call your local community police, motor vehicle or fire department to learn where you can obtain a free certified car or booster seat inspection.  A certified car inspection station can show you how to do it right for the safety of your children.

______________________

1. CDC. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System [online]. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (producer). [2010 August 2].

2. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Traffic Safety Facts 2008: Children. Washington (DC): NHTSA; 2009. [cited 2010 August 2].

3. HHS. www.hhs.gov,  Health Beat, “Kids Seated Safely”, Dreyfuss, Ira, November 3, 2010.

4. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Office of Defects Investigation, Recall Notice, 2010 October 30.