Category Archives: More Resources and Links

Kids and Concussions, Part 2

Recently Donna Broshek, Associate Director of the University of Virginia Health System’s Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Institute, and I recorded a public service announcement about concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in children. During our shoot, I was able to talk with her about this important topic.  One of the things I took away from that conversation is the importance of our role as parents in educating ourselves and our children about concussions.

Four Ways To Help Keep Your Child Safe

Bruised egos, broken bones and concussions are the biggest risks children face in sports–at an age and almost any sport. As parents we can lessen our safety concerns by becoming informed, engaged and in communication with our children, the schools and their coaches.

1)  Educate yourself.  Learn what a concussion is, its symptoms and what you can do to help your child or teen reduce the chances of a traumatic brain injury. For valuable resources see my first article, What Parents Need to Know About Concussions, Part 1.

2) Ask questions. Is your school system in compliance with the 2011 Virginia Student Athlete Protection Act? This bill established the Virginia Board of Education Guidelines For Policies on Concussions in Student-Athletes, requiring specific protocols for sports, protective gear and training.  

Talk to the coach, school administration, league representative and anyone else who is involved in your child’s sports.  How knowledgeable are they about concussions? Ask to see a copy of the school or league’s training manual for coaches and parent volunteers.

b) Check to see that helmets and equipment are up to date, in good repair and certified, if applicable.

c) Are athletes given any materials on safety, sportsmanship and injury?  Are parents given materials   on concussions?

3)  Talk to your children.  Talk about peer pressure and well-meaning adults who say, “tough it out” after an injury.  Explain in age-appropriate language what a concussion is and the dangers from returning to play too quickly. Talk from a place of love and concern about why their physical health is more important than playing when injured. Talk about the long-term effects of concussions.

4)  Get involved. Your level of involvement may depend on your child’s age. High school football players aren’t as comfortable with mom around as they were when they were children.  There are ways to become a ‘team parent’–from volunteering with fundraisers and parents’ groups to sitting on advisory committees. Attend games and practices (for younger children), show your support for the team and get to know your child’s coaches.

Your involvement as the parent of a young athlete is vital–it shows you care about your child’s participation and safety. And, should an accident occur you’re right there and able to see what happened and to take an active role in your child’s recovery from a concussion.

In my next article we’ll talk about how to prepare your child to play team sports.

Resources:

Parents’ vigilance can head off kids’ concussion risk (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/09/29/concussion-kids-cantu/1581173/)

The CDC Parent/ Athlete Concussion Information Sheet (http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/headsup/pdf/Parent_Athlete_Info_Sheet-a.pdf)

MomsTEAM.com (http://www.momsteam.com) – Helpful website for sports moms and dads.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month!

March is Brain injury awareness month and in recognition of this the Child Safety Blog is featuring a series of articles on concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in children.  We also did a public service announcement with Donna Broshek, who is the Associate Director of the University of Virginia Health System’s Brain Injury and Sports Concussion Institute. You can see the PSA here.

Your role as a parent is to both protect and encourage your child in the world. It’s a tough balance–you want your child to play sports and other recreational activities and you want them to be safe. By learning about concussions, the symptoms and how to prevent concussions, parents can help keep their kids safe.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year over 207,000 children are treated in emergency departments for sports-related concussions and other TBIs. The highest occurrence is for youth between the ages of 5-18.

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Excessive shaking can cause a concussion. Even a seemingly mild bump or blow to the head can be cause for concern and require medical attention.

A concussion may last for a short time or it can produce symptoms that last for days or weeks. While symptoms may appear mild, in some cases the injury can result in significant, lasting impairments.

While these should not be considered the absolute indicators of a concussion, they are signs that your child should seek medical attention:

  • Headache or neck pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Ringing in ears
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Temporary loss of consciousness or forgetting the incident

For more complete details on symptoms and what you should do, see this info sheet from The Mayo Clinic. (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/concussion/DS00320/METHOD=print)

What To Do If You Think Your Child Has a Concussion

The first thing to do is call your child’s physician. He or she will give you advice on whether to seek immediate medical treatment or to wait and observe your child for a day or two. Some symptoms may not appear immediately so you need to pay careful attention for a number of days after the injury.

Take notes–it’s always helpful for doctors if you can provide a history of an accident. Was he hit in the head? Did she lose consciousness? For how long? Write down symptoms and any comments your child makes that may indicate signs of brain injury. For example, is your child confused about the day or time, or complaining of head pain or dizziness? The more information you can share with the doctor the better.

Try to keep your child calm during this initial period. Discourage too much physical movement and other strenuous or stressful events. Remember it’s always better to call the doctor if you’re concerned.

Some Statistics on Concussions

Children from birth to 9 years of age are most often injured during playground activities or while riding a bike.

  • The highest occurrences are in football and girl’s soccer.
  • Males represent 71.0% of all sports and recreation-related TBI visits to the emergency room.
  • Children aged 10-19 years account for 70.5% of sports and recreation-related TBI visits to the emergency room.
  • For males aged 10-19 years, sports and recreation-related TBIs occurred most often while playing football or bicycling.
  • Females aged 10-19 years sustained sports and recreation-related TBIs most often while playing soccer or basketball or bicycling.

  (http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/sports/facts.html)

If your child falls off his bike, bumps her head or is injured in a soccer game, he or she could suffer a concussion. Concussions can be serious if left untreated. Seek medical attention and keep a close eye on your child for the next few days–the doctor will give you suggestions on what to look for and what to do in the following days and weeks.

It’s important that you share information about the injury with teachers and coaches, if your child is in athletics, and ask them to help you watch for any potential signs of brain trauma.

And, as Donna Broshek advises in our PSA – when in doubt, sit them out.

In our next article we’ll talk about what parents can do to help prevent concussions.

Helpful Resources for Parents:

Concussions- The Kids Health Blog (http://kidshealth.org/kid/ill_injure/aches/concussion.html# )  – Easy to read article describing concussions and the symptoms.

Concussion and Mild TBI (http://www.cdc.gov/Concussion/) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a wealth of resources on concussions.

Moms Team-Concussion Signs and Symptoms  (http://www.momsteam.com/health-safety/concussion-signs-and-symptoms-physical-cognitive-emotional-sleep-related) Online source for youth sports parents.

Burn Awareness Week

Every day throughout the United States, children arrive at emergency rooms for scald burn treatment. The major cause is contact with hot liquids, steam or hot foods. SafeKids USA says “90 percent of non-tap water scalds are caused during cooking or drinking hot liquids.” According to Shriners Hospitals for Children, “approximately 65 percent of children under age 4 hospitalized for burn injuries were scalded by hot liquids and 20 percent of those for contact burns.” www.shrinershospitalsforchildren.org/en/Education/BurnAwareness/HomeSafety.aspx

The majority of thermal burns to children under 14 years old are caused by contact with room heaters, ovens and ranges, clothing irons, gasoline, fireworks, hair curlers and curling irons. During the past 13 years, an average of 496 children each year died from unintentional fire or burn injury. According to the Shriners’ “Be Burn Aware” 2013 campaign, approximately 66 percent of electrical burn injuries in children ages 12 and younger are associated with household electrical cords and extension cords; and wall electrical outlet burns account for an additional 14 percent of electrical burn injuries.

Here are some tips to help avoid scald injuries to children:

  • Lower water heater temperature to 120˚F (49˚C) or less;
  • When filling a bathtub, run cold water first, then add in warmer water;
  • Before placing a child in a bathtub, check the water temperature by rapidly moving your hand through the water. If the water feels hot to an adult it is too hot for a child.
  • In the bathtub, face your child away from faucets;
  • Use knob covers on faucets; and
  • Always supervise your child closely in the bathtub.

And, to keep kids safe in the kitchen:

  • Always supervise children under age 7 using a microwave;
  • Turn pot handles on the stove inward; use oven mitts and potholders;
  • Make sure that micro waved food is thoroughly stirred before consuming;
  • Do not use deep fryers around children;
  • Do not hold children in your arms while cooking or passing hot food to others;
  • Test your baby’s food by placing one quarter spoonful on the underside of your wrist… if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for baby to safely swallow.

And, in case of a fire or burn emergency, Call 911 Immediately!

Gun Safety and Kids

Since the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Ct, there’s been a lot of debate about whether the country needs stricter gun control measures. Many people understandably have strongly held beliefs on this subject, but there’s one aspect to this issue that we should all agree on – unsupervised children cannot be allowed to have access to guns.  The statistics regarding kids and firearm deaths are staggering, but I’m not here to take a side in the gun control/gun rights battle – I just want to keep them out of the hands of unsupervised kids.

There is lots of web content on the internet about gun safety when it comes to children, and a great, comprehensive document I’ve found is by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.  It’s entitled simply Gun Safety, and, if you have kids or if you own guns, I highly recommend that you read it.

A few of its initial recommendations:

  • Unload and lock up guns
  • Lock and store ammunition separately
  • Hide keys where kids can’t find them
  • Gun safe’s are best, but gun locks/trigger locks can also be effective when used correctly.

These suggestions are pretty self evident, but the article also contains helpful suggestions for how to  teach children the difference between reality and fantasy play, and also separate tips for parents who own guns and parents who don’t. In my next posts, we’ll talk further about those topics.

Accidents Due to Hazardous Children’s Furniture Should Not Happen!

On January 30, a recall was issued for 300 Natart Chelsea Three-Drawer Children’s Dressers Model 3033, by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in cooperation with the manufacturer, Gemme Juvenile, Inc., of Princeville, Quebec, Canada. The recall affects only 300 children’s dressers and is due to a safety hazard. The hazard: The dresser can tip over and entrap a child.

In fact, one such dresser did tip over, entrap and suffocate a two-year old toddler from Barrington, Illinois. The child attempted to climb onto an open lower drawer in order to reach the second dresser drawer, which caused the dresser to tip over on the child. The recall notice says, “When the dresser drawers are pulled all the way out and then the additional weight of a young child is applied, the dresser’s center of gravity can be altered and result in instability of the product [the dresser] and consequently tip over.” http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2013/Natart-Chelsea-Dressers-Recalled-By-Gemme-Juvenile-To-Reduce-Tip-Over-Hazard-Death-of-Toddler-Reported/.

There are so many questions–and while any conscientious manufacturer would suffer from such an experience, I ask once again, why don’t manufacturers know within a reasonable range what can happen before releasing their products to the children’s furniture marketplace? Are children’s furniture products no longer being tested for safety before being imported to the U.S.? This particular dresser, according to the CPSC notice of recall, was manufactured before the May 2009 voluntary industry standard was issued. So, one might ask why didn’t the manufacturer recall the dressers when the voluntary industry standard changed?

This is a terrible reminder to parents of young children: Accidents with young children can happen very fast and toddlers should never be left alone. Young children need supervision.

The recalled children’s dressers were sold at Furniture Kidz and juvenile specialty stores and on line by Baby.com from January 2005 to December 2010 for from $600 to $900. If you have one of these, immediately stop using the dresser and remove it from your children’s access. Retrofit kits with wall anchor straps to keep the dresser from tipping are now being offered by the manufacturer for free, and consumers can contact the company by calling toll-free 1-855-364-2619 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

The CPSC would like everyone to know: “Every two weeks a child dies when a piece of furniture or a television falls on them.” All TVs and furniture should be anchored to prevent tipping.

October is Children’s Health Month

Posted by Marianne Frederick

With the end of the year drawing near and winter weather on the way, here are a few resource websites to review to help keep your child healthy:

Child Passenger Safety Week – September 16-22, 2012

Posted by Marianne Frederick

It’s Child Passenger Safety Week, and we think this is a great opportunity to check to make sure your children’s booster seats are properly installed in the vehicle in which you transport your children and that you are using the correct vehicle restraints.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is encouraging parents to take advantage of the free booster seat checks which may be offered in your communities this week by organizations like the local Sheriff’s Department or the local SafeKids Coalition near you!

You can visit SaferCar.gov for guidelines and “how-to” videos on car seat belt use and installation.   If you have questions about car seats, you may want to participate in a Live Twitter Question and Answer session with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s safety experts, on Wednesday September 19 from 2 p.m. until 3 p.m. (EDT).  You can follow and send questions to @NHTSAgov   Twitter.com/NHTSAgov  Hashtag: #therightseat.

Child Safety and Detergent Gel Pods

Posted by Marianne Frederick

The Honorable Charles Schumer, a senior Senator from New York State, has voiced a growing concern to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) about detergent gel pods and young children’s safety. Recently, children have been consuming the gel pods, which look a lot like candy, getting sick and have been hospitalized throughout the U.S.

The Senator has requested the CPSC put forward safety regulations to require safety caps on the pod packaging containers for both dish and clothes washing detergent gel pods. As the detergent gel pod use has increased in the U.S., so have occurrences of young children consuming the gel. The gel pods are small and brightly colored making them attractive to young children. Because their detergent chemical content is extremely concentrated, children who consume them are at risk of becoming ill.

Senator Schumer has been quoted as saying, “The common sense solution to this problem is for manufacturers to make the product less colorful, and for them to use child safe caps on the dispensers,” similar to those commonly used on prescription drug bottles. He also noted, “There is no reason in the world that those protections can’t be used on another product that can be equally dangerous.”http://www.schumer.senate.gov/Newsroom/record.cfm?id=337572.

Look Before You Lock!

Posted by Marianne Frederick

In April 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a program called, “Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock.” Knowing exactly where your young children are is always important, but now that the warmest season of the year is soon to be in full swing, it becomes even more important to check to make sure your child is not in the backseat as you are locking your car.

This public service campaign by the NHTSA aims to reduce the number of young children’s deaths from heatstroke and hyperthermia after having been left in vehicles which can become overheated quickly. During 2011, there were 33 deaths of young children in the U.S. from this type of hyperthermia, in 2010 there were 49–the majority of those deaths were of children under the age of 6 who had been left in vehicles whose interiors became overheated. All of the deaths were preventable. According to the NHTSA, heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash fatalities for children under the age of 14. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood noted, “It is [our] hope that the simple tips from this campaign will save lives and help families avoid unnecessary heartache.”

As part of the campaign, the NHTSA is releasing both radio and online advertisements focused on the theme “Where’s baby? Look before you lock.” In addition, the NHTSA is making a tool kit available at http://www.safercar.gov/parents/heat-involved.htm for parents and organizations to use in local campaigns on the issue. It’s important for parents and caregivers to remember that children’s body temperatures can rise up to five times faster than that of an adult. Heatstroke in kids left in cars can occur even when temperatures outside the vehicle are as low as 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Cars heat up quickly!

The NHTSA recommends the following tips to help parents and caregivers prevent accidental heatstroke in very young children:

  • Never leave an infant or child unattended in a vehicle–even if the windows are partially open and/or the air conditioner is running;
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle front and back before walking away from the vehicle;
  • Request the child care provider call you as soon as they are aware if the child does not show up for scheduled daycare, nursery school or school as expected;
  • If you do not take your child to daycare and someone else does, have that person call you to confirm your baby arrived safely;
  • Place reminders to yourself that a child is in the vehicle, such as a child’s backpack or lunch or stuffed toy–place the item in the front passenger seat so you are forced see it before exiting the car;
  • Never allow your car to be a play area for any young child in your care; and
  • Store your car keys up and out of a child’s reach!

Especially this summer, please remember to “Look Before You Lock!” and help keep kids safe!

A Shout Out and Thank You to Shriners Hospitals for Children

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.