Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Battery Controlled

There's a little known risk to small children.

Please watch this video, and share it with friends, family and other members of your social network. We are proud to partner with Energizer and Safe Kids USA to raise awareness about the dangers coin-sized lithium batteries can pose to small children.

We are on a mission to share this life-saving information with parents, grandparents and other caregivers and urge them to keep battery-controlled devices out of reach of children if the battery compartments aren’t secure.

With your help, we can save lives.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Toy Safety and Holiday Decorating Safety Tips

by Cheryl Ledford

The holiday season has officially begun.  This is a time of decorating your homes, shopping, and celebrations.  Safe Guilford and Safe Kids Guilford County would like to share some safety tips that will help you keep your family safe during the holidays. 

Did you know, there are approximately 15 toy-related deaths in children each year and over 200,000 toy-related injuries?  Many of these deaths occur from young children choking on small play balls and balloons.  Many toy injuries occur when the parents overestimate the child's ability to handle a toy designed for an older age group.  To avoid possible injuries, parents and gift givers should make sure to buy age-appropriate toys.  All Toys have age information clearly marked on the packaging, and also advise if they have small parts that aren't appropriate for children 3 and under.  If in doubt about the safety of the toy pieces, use a small parts tester or a toilet paper roll to see if the parts fit through the roll.  If the parts goes through the roll, the toy pieces are a choking hazaard for children 3 and under. 

Other toy-related injuries occur from ride-on or wheeled toys.  Riding toys such as scooters, tricycles, in-line skates, powered and un-powered wheeled toys are associated with more injuries than any other toy group.  If you plan to give the gift of a wheeled toy, make sure to give a proper fitting helmet specifically designed for that particular wheeled toy.  Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent.

So how do parents know if the toys they purchase are safe? First, inspect the toys after you take them out of the packaging and periodically to make sure they are in good working order.  Make sure stuffed animals’ eyes, noses, and attachments are tightly secured.  You can also check the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website at to check for safety recalls.  The site also has Safety News and Recall email sign-ups as well.  Parents need to actively supervise their children when they are playing with any toys.  Active supervision means keeping the child in sight and reach and paying undivided attention.  If your children are playing with toys that have small or moving parts, electrical or battery operated, and wheeled, they need your attention.

For families with younger and older children, teach the older children to "Practice Proper Storage".  Have the children put toys away after playing, to help prevent falls and younger children from playing with toys that have small parts.  Toy chests should be equipped with safety hinges that prevent the lid from closing on a child who is leaning over the chest and from closing on their fingers. Also, any toys with strings, straps, or cords longer than 7 inches can be a strangulation hazard to a child, as they are designed for older children.  Keep these toys out of the reach of the smaller children.

We should all be mindful to be safe while decorating our homes.  Never leave a lit Christmas Tree or other decorative lighting unattended.  Make sure to inspect the lights and cords for exposed wires or electrical shortages before decorating.  Only use lights and extension cords designed for outdoor use when decorating outdoors.  Also, be sure to use power strips when plugging in multiple lights to avoid overloading the outlets.

If you plan to have a natural Christmas Tree, make sure to water the tree daily and check frequently for freshness.  Avoid placing the tree near a fire place or near lit candles.  Candles should never be left unattended when lit and never placed near decorations or curtains.  If you have small children and pets, decorate with them in mind.  Keep decorations or ornaments with small parts and metal hooks out of their reach.  Trim protruding branches at or below child’s eye level.  You may want to consider buying a special safety gate that surrounds the tree and keeping small children and pets from touching the tree.  Parents and caregivers need to supervise their children and pets at all times when around the tree.

Another potential hazaard to be aware of during the holidays is the seasonal plants. As beautiful as they are, Holly berries, mistletoe berries, poinsettias, amaryllis, boxwood, Christmas rose, Crown of Thorns, English ivy, and Jerusalem cherry are all potentially harmful if eaten.  Keep these plants out of the reach of your children and pets.

Last but not least, when having gatherings with your friends and family, keep glasses and containers with alcohol out of the reach of children.  Don't leave glasses unattended or at child's reach while celebrating with your family and friends.

Now that you have these safety tips in hand, you'll be able to prepare for a safe holiday season for your family.  Safe Guilford and Safe Kids Guilford County would like to wish you and your family a Happy Holidays!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Happy Healthy Halloween!

by Cheryl Ledford

Fall is upon us, and for many school-aged children, the plans for Halloween costumes are already in the works. While the holiday is best known for its spooks, planning ahead can help prevent the night from becoming unnecessarily scary.  Here are some tips to keep Halloween safe and fun.

Getting ready:
-          Help your child decide on an appropriate costume. Discourage costumes that may be perceived as too scary or disrespectful.
-          If using accessories such as swords and wands, use soft, pliable materials to prevent injury to your little pirate and their friends.
-          Instead of masks, use face paints that are intended for skin, and test a small area of skin first to look for reactions.
-          If wearing a mask, be sure your child is able to see well, even to both sides.  Also check the child’s ability to hear if the mask covers the ears.
-          Make sure the costume fits and is easy to get out of. Look for fire resistant, bright colored fabrics.
-          While mom’s high heels may be tempting, help your little princess find shoes that fit well to prevent falls and twisted ankles.
Before you go:
-          Be sure there is a responsible adult accompanying each group of children while trick-or-treating.
-          Have your little ghouls eat a large meal before they leave to trick-or-treat to avoid the temptation of eating candy before you have inspected it.
-          If you feel comfortable allowing your teenager to go without an adult, consider arranging check-in times either by phone or in person. Know whom they will be with and what time you expect them home.
-          Plan a route for your children to follow, reminding them only to stop at homes that have exterior lights on.
-          Instruct your child to never go into the home of a stranger, even if invited inside. Review with your child what to do if approached by a stranger.  If you have particular concerns about your neighborhood, consider checking a sex-offender registry before donning costumes.
While you are out:
-          Carry a flashlight and glow sticks, both to see and be seen.
-          Use reflective tape on children’s costumes, especially if they are dark colored.
-          Always stay on the sidewalks. If you live in an area without a sidewalk, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
-          Practice street safety: Look both ways, hold hands, and only cross at crosswalks.
When you return:
-          Inspect candy before allowing your children to keep it. Look for evidence of tampering.
-          Be aware of choking risks. Keep hard candies, candy wrappers, and very small candies away from younger children.
-          Limit sugar consumption by keeping candy out of children’s rooms or play areas. Set firm rules on how many pieces of candy they may have each day and when, and stick to it. 

Keep these tips in mind for a safe, fun, and not-too-scary Halloween!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Baby Safety at Home

Having a baby in the home can be an exciting and joyous time in life.  However, as your baby grows and develops, household safety becomes more important.  As your little one becomes more mobile, there are some important steps you can take and consider for “baby proofing” your home.

First, if there are stairs in your home, they can be very enticing for your baby to explore.  Baby gates at the top of the staircase, or in open doorways, are a good measure to take in order to prevent accidental falls and tumbles down the steps.  Before investing, be sure to research the safety of the baby gate you wish to purchase as certain gates have been recalled due to hazards and some are made specifically for the bottom and/or top of stairs.  Read the labels on the packaging for specific information concerning placement and installation.

Cabinets and chemicals are other safety issues that arise when your bundle of joy starts getting around.  Prevention of your child getting into cabinets and drawers and getting hold of harmful items or chemicals, such as household cleaners, can be achieved by using cabinet locks. But remember, the best way to keep baby from these items is by placing them in a high place that is unreachable for your child.

Next, make sure that tables and countertops are free from long-hanging tablecloths and items like towels that hang over the edges.  The reason for this is because babies are constantly reaching and grasping at every object in sight, and grabbing and pulling these items could cause your baby to have something fall onto him or her causing serious injury.

Finally, let’s not forget about those electrical outlets! Your baby’s curiosity when it comes these items can be extremely dangerous. Prevent electrocution or serious shocks simply by placing electrical outlet covers throughout the entire home.

These are just a few common tips to ensure your baby’s safety in the home.  There are many products and devices out there that can help with the “baby proofing”.  Be sure to regularly talk about home safety with your baby’s pediatrician and keep your little explorer out of harm’s way!

Friday, September 16, 2011

National Child Passenger Safety Week Sept. 18-24

Make sure your children are safe and secure.
Please join us to have your child safety seat inspected.
Saturday, September 24
10am – 1pm
Burlington Coat Factory
3022 High Point Road
Greensboro, NC

September 18-24 is National Child Passenger Safety Week.  All over the United States, Safe Kids Coalitions will be hosting car seats checking stations held as part of Seat Check Saturday.  Greensboro's event will be Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10am - 1pm at Burlington Coat Factory at 3022 High Point Rd..

According to statistics, in 2009 1314 children ages 14 and under died and an estimated 179,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes.  Almost half of the children who die in motor vehicle crashes are completely unrestrained.  Research shows that child restraints provide the best protection for all children up to age 8.

For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers can visit their local inspection stations and refer to the following guidelines that determine which restraint system is best suited to protect children based on age and size: 
1.      For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat. At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds. 
This year, The American Academy of Pediatrics announced it is now recommending infants and toddlers ride rear-facing in a child safety seat (a safety seat that is weight and height appropriate for the child) until they are 2 years of age or until the child reaches the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.
2.       When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).
3.       Once children outgrow their forward-facing seats (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle seat belts fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).
4.       When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult seat belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest).

Remember: All children younger than 13 should ride in the back seat.

Safe Kids Guilford County urges every parent and caregiver to have your child safety seats checked by a certified technician.  For a list of certified technicians and seat check events in your area, visit or

Monday, August 15, 2011

Staying Safe in the Summer Sun

by Kate Ettefagh, M.D.

Summer time brings opportunities for exciting outside activities from family cookouts to little league baseball games to days at the waterfront.  With each of these activities, we need to make sure that we are protecting children from the dangers of prolonged heat and sun exposure. 

Excessive sun exposure may cause sun burns or even sun poisoning while prolonged heat exposure may cause heat exhaustion or, in severe cases, heat stroke.   Fortunately, there are ways to keep ourselves and our children safe while enjoying ourselves outside in the heat and sun. 

Because sunburns at younger ages are associated with increased risk of skin cancer later in life, we should be especially vigilant about protecting our children from UV rays.  Infants younger than 6 months old are particularly susceptible to sun burns.  Young infants should be covered with light weight clothing and wide-brimmed hats to avoid sun exposure. 

Older infants and children should use sunscreen with SPF of 15 or greater when outside.  Sunscreen should be reapplied after swimming, sweating, or at least every two hours.  Look for sunscreens that offer broad spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays. 

Also, don't be fooled by cloudy days.  The damaging UV rays are not blocked by the clouds and can still cause a sunburn on a cloudy day.  Additionally, everyone can limit their exposure to harmful UV rays by staying inside or in the shade during peak hours of 10 AM to 4 PM.

Exercising in the heat poses an additional threat to older children and adolescents.  While recent studies have shown that children and adolescents may be equally able to train and acclimatize to exercising in the heat, coaches and parents must take certain precautions to avoid heat-related illness. 

Athletes must have adequate hydration before, during, and after exercise in hot conditions.   If children wait until they are thirsty to drink, they are already mildly dehydrated.  Instead, parents and coaches must schedule frequent breaks for hydration during exercise and encourage children to drink plenty of fluids.  Water is sufficient for exercise in the heat for one hour or less.  After one hour, sports drinks should be used which replace electrolytes lost in sweat. 

For more information on sun and heat safety, please visit these websites:

CDC Skin Cancer Prevention

American Academy of Pediatrics Summer Fun Tips

AAP Policy Statement
 Climatic Heat Stress and Exercising Children and Adolescents

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Staying Safe in the Water

by Amanda Rose, M.D.

Summer is here, and there is nothing better when it’s hot outside than cooling down in the pool!  But as fun as it is, we need to remember that water can be dangerous.  In fact, each year in the United States, more than 300 children age five and younger die from drowning.  The number of drowning incidents increases as much as 89% in the summer months.  Most of these cases happen in home swimming pools.  Here are some tips to help keep your family safe this summer by the pool.

First of all, remember that it only takes seconds for a child to drown and it happens silently.  Active supervision is the most important step in preventing drowning.  In cases where adults were present when a child drowned, the adults were almost always distracted by some other activity.  If there is more than one adult present, one person at a time must be designated as the one responsible for watching the children.  Reading a book, sending a text message, or even talking to another person can distract you enough to be unsafe.  You should have a phone nearby in case of an emergency.

Also, a young child can drown in only a few inches of water. They can fall into a pool, a hot tub, or even a bucket of water.  If you have a pool at home, it should have a fence that is at least 4 feet tall that goes all the way around it and has a gate that will close and latch itself.  If you have a hot tub, the cover should be on and locked when it is not in use.  Make sure to drain bathtubs and buckets of water when not in use.

Another important tip is to learn infant and child CPR. If someone drowns you must immediately start CPR to keep blood flowing to the brain and other organs.  It may take some time for the paramedics to arrive when you call 911, and having someone perform CPR during that time can make a huge difference.

Learn more at 
Children who take swimming lessons may cut their risk of drowning by 88%.  The most critical thing they learn from swimming lessons is how to float.  If they can stay calm and keep themselves afloat in the water, they have a better chance of being rescued even if they are not able to get out of the water alone.  However, even if your child knows how to swim, that is not a substitute for careful supervision while they are in the water.  If your child cannot swim well on his or her own, you should use a life jacket and stay within reach of the child.  Make sure the life jacket is right for the child’s size.  It should keep the child’s head above water without slipping over the chin or ears when they are floating. 
When at the beach or on the lake, most of these rules are the same.  In addition, teach children the differences between swimming in a pool and swimming in an open body of water. They need to learn how to deal with changes in the weather, currents, and waves.  Always swim in designated swimming areas, and in front of a lifeguard if there is one.  Everyone should wear a life jacket when boating or doing water sports, even those who know how to swim.  Over 85% of boating accident victims who drown are not wearing life jackets.  Do not be fooled by “calm water,” because half of recreational boating deaths happen when the water is calm.  The U.S. Coast Guard offers boating safety courses to teach the entire family how to be safe on the water.  
I hope these tips will help you and your family have a fun and safe summer!

For more information, go to:

Friday, May 27, 2011

May is National Bike Month--are you wearing your helmet?

Spring has arrived and families are gearing up to enjoy the outdoors on their bikes. While inflating the tires and checking the brakes are important – a helmet is essential. I urge you--parents, caregivers, and children--to use your helmet each time you ride your bike – no matter how long or short the distance traveled.

Did you know...each year, approximately 135 children die from bicycle-related injuries and more than 267,000 nonfatal bicycle injuries occur. Helmets can reduce the risk of severe brain injuries by 88 percent; however, only 15 to 25 percent of children 14 and under usually wear a bicycle helmet. Helmets could prevent an estimated 75 percent of fatal head injuries and up to 45,000 head injuries to children who ride bikes each year.

I'm a parent of a 3-year-old and both my husband and I require she wear her helmet when she rides her tricycle. Not only is this protecting her now, but this rule gets her in the habit so we won't have fights about it later on when she's older. When we go on our evening walks and she's riding her tricycle beside us, she sometimes pleads with us to let her ride without the helmet. We give her two choices: walk beside us without a helmet or ride her tricycle with a helmet. The choice is hers, but riding without a helmet is not.

Here are some other bicycle safety tips:

  • Make sure the helmet fits and your kids know how to put it on correctly. A helmet should sit on top of the head in a level position, and should not rock forward and backward or side to side. The helmet straps must always be buckled, but not too tightly. Safe Kids recommends the “Eyes, Ears and Mouth” test

o    EYES: Position the helmet on your head.  Look up and you should see the bottom rim of the helmet. The rim should be one to two finger-widths above the eyebrows.
o    EARS:  Make sure the straps of the helmet form a "V" under your ears when buckled.  The strap should be snug but comfortable.
o    MOUTH:  Open your mouth as wide as you can.  Do you feel the helmet hug your head?  If not, tighten those straps and make sure the buckle is flat against your skin.

  • Make sure the bike is the right size for the child. There should be about 1-inch of clearance between the bike frame and the child’s groin when the child’s feet are flat on the ground. Also, make sure the bike is in good repair — reflectors are secure, brakes work properly, gears shift smoothly, and tires are tightly secured and properly inflated. 
  • Remember, bike helmets are for biking. Kids should not wear bike helmets on the playground (where the straps can get caught on equipment and cause injury) or for activities that require specialized helmets (such as skiing or football). 
  • Model and teach proper bicyclist behavior. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible. Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stop lights. 
  • When in doubt, get help. The sales staff at any bicycle shop or outdoor recreation store should be able to provide expert advice on fitting and adjusting bikes and helmets. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Never Leave Your Child Alone

Warmer weather is approaching and with it the seemingly inevitable news that a child has died in a disturbing, horrific incident from being trapped in a sweltering car.  Regrettably, the first incidence of 2011 occurred March 8th in Texas when a mother accidentally left her six month year old in the car for nine hours.  

The risks and causes of these child hyperthermia deaths are well known.  But sadly, these tragedies occurred 49 times in 2010 – the worst year since records have been kept.  Since 1998, 494 child vehicular hyperthermia deaths have occurred in the United States with the leading states as Texas, Florida and California.  But what’s even more alarming is the rate of these deaths is climbing, according to statistics compiled by Jan Null of San Francisco State University.  It has happened in February and at temperatures as low as 57 degrees F. 

There is no common description of the caregiver that has experienced this tragedy. It happens to mothers and fathers, rich and poor, highly educated and less educated, city dwellers and suburbanites. "Couldn't happen to me," you say? Of course, that's what every parent says, including those who go on to experience it at some later date. It is an inexplicable error of the human brain.

But these deaths are preventable – not inevitable.

If you see a child alone in a car, take immediate action.  The body temperature of children rises 3 - 5 times faster than adults, and thus, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke.  Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car as EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble.  If a child is missing, check inside all nearby vehicles first – including the trunk.

Be sure to keep your vehicle locked at all times.  Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle.  These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors to assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.

Another way to prevent this tragedy is to create a reminder.  Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted.  Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something you will need at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings.  Also, set the alarm on your mobile or smartphone as a reminder to drop your child off at day care.  And, you can set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?”  Finally, establish a plan with your child’s daycare that if your child is late for daycare that you will be called within a few minutes. And, be especially mindful if you change your routine for dropping off your child at day care.

The bottom line is that most of these tragedies can be avoided.  By locking cars, creating reminders for ourselves and acting immediately to a child alone in a vehicle – we can save children's lives. 

For more information on preventing child heat stroke deaths, please visit

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sledding Safety Sense

Turn around and wear a helmet!
Normally, we don’t get the first snowfall of the season until after the New Year, but to most everyone’s delight, almost the entire state got a few inches on Christmas day.
When I was young, we didn’t have a real sled and on those rare occasions we got enough snow to sled in, we just used a trash can lid. After observing the kids in my neighborhood after the huge snowfall, I see most of them are improvising as well.
This year, my FIL got my dd a sled for Christmas. UnFortunately, we didn’t receive it in time for the 5 inches of snow that landed at our house. I didn’t mind though, because my dd is only 2.5 and I doubt she can yet handle a full-size sled. This buys me more time to negotiate my desire for her safety with my husband’s desire for her to hit the berm in the back yard.
I looked up some sledding safety tips and wanted to share them with you. The following applies to all sledders—young and old alike.
·    Always wear a helmet that fits properly and securely. Even a bike helmet will provide extra protection against accidents.
·    Dress in layers and wear warm, close-fitting clothes. Make sure that long scarves are tucked in and avoid drawstrings to prevent them from getting caught on objects.
·    Never sled head first. Always sled facing forward, with feet first. Every year thousands of people are treated for serious injury related to sledding. The most serious of these are injuries of the head, neck, and spinal cord.
·    Use a sled that can steer. Avoid using items such as cardboard boxes, trashcan lids, etc as sleds.
·    Keep younger and older children sledding in different paths. Sliding devices that are harder to steer, such as a plastic snow disk or a snow tube, are also best used by older children.
·    Location is important. Make sure the hill is open and free of obstacles (such as trees and fences). Keep in mind there may be hidden objects (such as rocks and tree stumps) under the snow. Avoid slopes that end in a street, parking lot, or pond and avoid icy surfaces.
·    Never pull a sled behind a vehicle.
·    Parents should always supervise children children 12 and under.
·    Stay hydrated. Drink fluids before, during and after winter play.
·    Go inside when you need to. Kids — or caregivers — who become distracted or irritable, or begin to hyperventilate, may be suffering from hypothermia, or they may be too tired to participate safely in winter sports. They need to go indoors to warm up and rest.