No matter how much we try to educate ourselves and our kids about health and safety, it’s a sad fact of life that serious illnesses and accidents are going to happen. When they do, we can only hope that a child gets the best health care possible. One institution that has been singularly dedicated to children for more than 80 years is the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
I’m writing about the Shriners because I had occasion to speak with one of their doctors last week — one of the preeminent pediatric burn doctors in the nation. I can only imagine what this doctor sees on a day-to-day basis, and it brings up the larger point about what Shriners does and how they do it. Shriners has 22 hospitals, all dedicated to taking care of children. They treat children up to age 18 for serious orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries (SCI) and cleft palate and lip conditions. And the amazing thing — they do this all at no charge and without regard to financial need.
Think about that. In this day and age where health care costs are gong through the roof, and many children don’t even have access to good care at all, Shriners provides care at no cost to those children who need it most. In addition to their direct care for children, its mission also includes research into the conditions they treat, and also the education of medical professionals.
Over the years, Shriner’s hospitals have treated hundreds of thousands of children with all types of serious injuries. The institution and its dedicated professionals deserve a huge thank you. If you are interested in making a donation to this worthy cause, or want more information about doing so, go here.
If you want to contact Bryan Slaughter or the Child Safety Blog, go here.
Recently, there has been controversy over the safety and efficacy of many cough and cold medicines for young children. Last year, the FDA.issued a public health advisory warning against the use of such medicines for children under two. In October, manufacturers voluntarily changed the labeling and warnings to state that these medicines should not be given to children under four.
The problem is that studies have shown that cough and cold medicines are not effective for young children, and there are approximately 7,000 pediatric emergency room visits per year as a result of adverse reactions. Most of these visits are the result of unintentional overdosing — parents guess at the dose, or they don’t realize when two medicines contain the same active ingredient. Studies are currently being done regarding whether these medicines are effective for children under 12, but they won’t be completed for a couple of years.
So, where does that leave us parents? First, don’t panic, and don’t necessarily clean out your medicine cabinets. Here are some guidelines to follow:
- Do not give adult medicines to children, no matter how much you cut the dose.
- Strictly follow dosing instructions.
- Talk to your pediatrician about which medicines to use and in what amounts.
- Check the “Drug Facts” section of the label to see what the active ingredients are. For instance, most of the cough and cold medicines contain some type of pain reliever such as acetomitophine (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen (Advil), in addition to other ingredients for cough or a stuffy nose.
- Be very careful when giving more than one medicine at a time — this is where accidental overdoses often occur. Using the example above, a problem could arise if a parent gives their child Advil and then a multi- symptom medicine containing Advil.
- Realize that these medicines do nothing to cure or shorten colds and the flu. They only work on the symptoms. Make sure your child drinks plenty of liquids and rest.
Check back here — the CSB will be monitoring the current studies and announcements regarding cough and cold medicines
So what are the parents out there doing — using these medicines or not?
The CPSC has recalled over 13 cribs and bassinets since the first of the year. Many feel that the CPSC is not aggressive enough in its recall measures, and that it is not sufficient to permit manufacturers to simply issue retrofit kits to satisfy the recalls. The Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, has taken matters into her own hands, and should be commended for her actions.
Here’s what’s happened. A company called Simplicity has had a lot of problems with recalls over the last year, some as a result of infant deaths. Due to the recalls, Simplicity was forced into bankruptcy. A company called SFCA, Inc, purchased the assets of Simplicity. That’s fine, except it appears that the only thing SFCA wanted to do was reap profits, and did not seem particularly interested in helping to save the lives of children. SFCA would not cooperate whatsoever with the CPSC recalls. Given that children’s lives are at stake, Madigan did not feel that the CPSC’s response to SFCA was sufficient, so she undertook her own action to force SFCA to stop marketing these dangerous cribs. She’s to be applauded.
AG Madigan has also put out a very useful guide for identifying which cribs have recently been recalled, as well as safe sleeping tips for infants.
Email Bryan Slaughter
Apparently the CPSC has copied my Halloween tips idea. Seriously though, they did issue a press release yesterday – much of it is similar to my tips below, but they offer some additional suggestions that are worth checking out.
Also, my 7 year old daughter, Jane, wanted me to say that in addition to the flashlights, they will be wearing blinking necklaces for visibility. I’ll let you know what luck I have getting her and her sister to wear a coat over their costumes if it’s cold.
My seven year old is going as Gabriella from High School Musical, my five year old as a witch, my 17 month old as a fireman, and my 7 month old as a firehouse dog. Here’s what we’re doing and telling them so that they’ll be as safe as possible. If any one else has any good tips, let me know and I’ll include them next year. By the way, Jane, Libby and I saw HSM3 over the weekend — all in all not bad.
Halloween Safety Tips –
- Wear light colored or reflective clothing/costumes OR buy reflective tape (sold at any hardware or big box store) and place on costume. 3M makes good reflective tape.
- Make sure your kids have flashlights.
- Make sure costumes don’t drag on the ground – long costumes present an increased fire hazard.
- Talk with your children about not getting too close to jack-o-lanterns with candles, or any other open flames.
- Young children should have a parent with them when trick-or-treating.
- It’s much more safe for children to travel in groups then by themselves or in pairs.
- Take masks off between houses (better yet, don’t get a costume with a mask).
- Don’t cut through yards — use driveways and walks.
- The best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating are the ones with the fewest cars. Take extra time to impress on your children the need to be on the lookout for cars – they will be excited and crossing the street often. They absolutely need to stop and look before crossing, and young children need to wait for a parent before crossing.
- Feed your kids dinner beforehand — lessens the candy intake (at least a little bit).
- If your older kids are going out alone, it’s best for them to have a cellphone or some means of communicating with you.
- Inspect your children’s candy for open packaging or anything else that might be suspicious.
- AND, although not safety related, talk to your kids about being polite, saying thank you, and not grabbing handfuls of candy when offered.
BE SAFE AND HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Given all that is known about crib safety, and how long the industry has known about potential hazards, it amazes me that we still have a problem with dangerous cribs. Over the last month, there have been four crib recalls, all for entrapment and suffocation hazards. As is too often the case, it took the death or serious injury of a child for these recalls to happen. The recalled cribs are:
The Delta recall involves over 1,500,000 cribs. The danger involves missing or failing safety pegs for the drop rails. The CPSC is aware of two deaths and other instances of entrapment involving these cribs.
Whenever parents use previously owned/older cribs, they should make sure that they have all the hardware and that they are putting the crib together correctly. For instance, for some older cribs, it is possible to switch the mattress platform with the crib rails. If directions are not with the crib, parents should check the manufacturers website to see if they are posted there. Most importantly, use common sense. After the crib has been put together, look for any noticeable gaps. Also make sure that the drop rail, if there is one, is well attached and slides smoothly. Finally, make sure that there are no large gaps between the spindles where a baby’s head could become entrapped. One useful test — if a soda can can fit through the spindles, they are too wide.
One of the important things I’d like to do with this site is provide a place where parents can get quick, easy access to recall information for children’s products. Up-to-date recalls will be posted, and eventually we’ll have a sign-up for a monthly or weekly electronic newsletter that will, among other things, contain current recall information.
But what is a recall of a consumer product such as a toy or child safety seat? A recall is a corrective action by a company with regard to a product that it has discovered may be unreasonably dangerous to users. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has jurisdiction over toys and child safety seats sold in the United States, as well as other consumer products such as household appliances, sporting equipment and furnaces. It does not have jurisdiction over motor vehicles, drugs, pesticides or medical devices (other government agencies have jurisdiction over those).
The Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) is the umbrella statute for the CPSC. Section 2064(b) of the Act requires manufacterers, importers, distributors and Retailers to report to CPSC information about products that are potentially hazardous.
A firm or company must notify the CPSC if it discovers information that suggests one of it’s products:
1) contains a defect that could create a substantial product hazard;
2) presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death;
3) violates a mandatory CPSC standard.
If you would like to report a toy, car seat or other product that you believe is dangerous, go here.
If you would like more information on what has been recalled, go here or here.
As I stated above, we will soon have a regular email or electronic newsletter going out with current recall information. If you would like to receive this information, please email me, Bryan Slaughter.
So, since we’re just getting started here, I thought I’d talk a little more about where I’m going with this site. Ideally, I’d like this to become a child safety community of sorts. I envision a place where people can go to find out about child safety, but also engage in discussions and debates about child safety. What have people come across that they think is particularly dangerous to their children? What was unexpectedly dangerous? What practical tips do people have to make their child more safe?
One thing I’m particularly interested in is the balance between keeping our kids safe and letting them test their limits. We could all put our children in a bubble where they’d never get hurt, but they’d be missing out on so much that makes life fun. Climbing trees, going too fast on a bike, pretending the top of a brick wall is a balance beam — all of these things are not only fun for kids, but it also builds their confidence. Most of it is common sense. Let them ride their bike a little too fast, but make sure they have a helmet. Let them walk on the wall, but walk underneath them to break their fall. Make sure the tree they’re climbing is a good climbing tree with sturdy branches. Kids are going to get injured — broken arms, cuts, chipped teeth — that’s all part of childhood and we as parents can’t and shouldn’t try to prevent all injuries. Our job is to do what we can to minimize the risk of the truly serious ones.
Welcome to the Child Safety Blog!
— The mission of this site is to be a central location where parents can go to find information about child safety. It is intended to be a starting point for parents interested in staying abreast of current child safety issues. The CSB will have updated information regarding recalls, child safety news, best safety practices, state-of-the-art products, as well as opinions about everything related to child safety. While the site will have tips about major topics such as toys, water safety, and safety in and around cars, it will also have links to the best websites for each of these topics. So, by coming here first, a parent can be confident that this site will have already done the research to find the best, most recent child safety information.
Who — This CSB was created and will be maintained by Bryan Slaughter, an attorney with MichieHamlett in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bryan devotes his practice to helping people who have been seriously injured by corporations who have acted negligently or have produced dangerous products. Over the years, more and more of Bryan clients have been children who have been needlessly injured.
Bryan and his wife Jennifer are parents to four wonderful kids (they’re the ones in the pictures above). When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his family and occasionally playing
— I find it meaningful to be able to help children who have been hurt, but it would be far more fulfilling to have a hand in preventing injuries before they happen, and that’s why I started this blog. Through my work, I constantly see what is safe and what is not. I see patterns of injuries to children — the same thing happening over and over. Children, as well as parents, simply don’t appreciate many dangers until it is too late. By raising awareness, I hope to help stop injuries before they ever occur.