Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Toys, small parts, and batteries....Toy safety tips for parents

By:  Christy Ashburn, Pediatric Resident

The holiday season is fast approaching, and now is a great time to talk about toy safety before the shopping begins!  When buying gifts for children it is important to keep safety in mind; children may not always put age appropriate toys on their wish lists.  Toy-related injuries are a common occurrence, with thousands of children showing up in emergency departments all over the country.  Researchers say that the numbers of toy-related injuries are continuing to rise each year.  In order to prevent toy related injuries it is important to keep several rules in mind when out shopping for gifts for children:

  1. Look at the age specification of the toy.  These specifications come from federal regulations ensuring that the toy diameter is large enough to prevent young children from choking.  If in doubt, think large! 
  2. Buy toys that are made of sturdy plastic and less likely to break. 
  3. Make sure all toys, markers, and crayons say “nontoxic” on the label or box
  4. Be sure that stuffed toys are machine washable and avoid stuffed toys with bean-like pellets that can cause choking if swallowed.
  5. Never leave a young child unattended in the presence of any toy with small parts. 
  6. Use battery operated toys for kids younger than 10 to avoid electric shocks and burns.

 Batteries do pose their own risks however, and are especially dangerous when swallowed.  Button batteries are the most dangerous, as these batteries can resemble candy to small children.  To prevent ingestion, make sure that all battery compartments are sealed appropriately and taped shut to prevent accidental opening.  Store all batteries high and out of reach of children.  If your child swallows a battery, call your pediatrician immediately. 

The holidays are a great time to watch your child grow and develop and learn how to use new toys.  Let’s help them do it the safest way possible!
For more information on toy and battery safety please visit:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Home Fire Safety 101

Whitney Haddix, MD
UNC Pediatric Resident, Primary Care Track

Whenever discussing injuries and injury prevention, we must talk about fire safety.  It is important for families to know what they can do to prevent fires and fire injuries in their homes.  With National Fire Prevention Week coming up this October 7th through 13th, lets talk about some basic home fire prevention tips. 

  1. Have a fire escape plan and practice it!  An NFPA survey showed only one-third of Americans have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.  This year’s National Fire Prevention week’s theme is “Have 2 Ways Out!” – meaning that families should have a back up plan in the event that one escape route is blocked by smoke or fire.  You should have two escape plans from each room of your home.  Remember, if there is a fire in your home, get everyone out safely, then call 911.  Never go back inside a home that is on fire.
  2. Install smoke alarms on each floor of your home and in each bedroom and test them monthly.  Fire safety experts also recommend using “Dual Sensor Smoke Alarms” that detect fire with flames and fire that has fumes without flames.  If you are renting, your landlord should provide smoke alarms for your home, but you will still need to check and replace the batteries.
  3. Never leave food cooking unattended on a stove and keep cooking areas free of pot holders, towels, etc. (anything flammable).  Cooking fires are the leading cause of fires and fire injuries in the United States.
  4. Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of children.  They should be stored in a safe, out of reach place and locked away if possible. 
  5. Never leave cigarettes or candles unattended.  These should also be kept out of the reach of children.

As you practice these tips, be sure to involve your children.  Let them help you move the pot holders and towels away from the stove in the kitchen.  Teach them that lighters and matches are for grown ups and that they should let an adult know if they find any of these items.  Practice your family’s escape plan yearly; maybe your family will choose Fire Prevention Week every October to practice!

The best way to stop a fire is to prevent it from starting.  However, if a fire does start in your home, having a plan will help keep you and your family safe. 

Additional Resources:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

5 Tips for Childproofing

By: Jalan Washington Burton, MD, MPH
UNC Pediatric Resident, Primary Care Track

As a Pediatric Resident, I talk to parents every day about how to make their homes more safe for their children. As a busy mother to a 10 month old, I now realize how difficult it can be to remember to implement those recommendations before major safety concerns arise.

My Little One gets into everything! Even though he is only crawling, he has become very efficient at getting into small spaces, even disappearing into baby-friendly hiding places. Unfortunately for my husband and me, his new favorite place is our kitchen. Babies explore through touching and tasting. The kitchen, like the bathroom, has the potential to be a very dangerous place for babies unless we make it safe.

Top 5 Kitchen Safety Tips:

1. Be proactive! Put dangerous items out of reach
● Before the first signs of crawling, make sure to put potentially dangerous items such as dishwashing liquid, knives, and glass bowls in higher cabinets that cannot be accessed by exploring little fingers and mouths.

2. Separation is key. Use physical barriers when performing dangerous tasks
● When using the stove or cooking foods that may splash causing burns, make sure children are a safe distance away. We tend to have one parent distract him in the living room or use a play yard placed somewhere that he can see us. Some of our friends use baby gates.

3. Don’t wait for drawer exploration, get drawer locks
● Before we knew it, pushing and pulling drawers became our Little Guy’s new favorite past-time. Pinched fingers and even fractures can result. Simple drawer locks can be purchased at retail stores or on-line.

4. Have a “baby fun cabinet” away from the stove so baby can feel involved
● We let our Little One play in the cabinet under our sink. It is full of plastic bowls, plates, and mixing spoons so that he can explore and have fun close to where we are working.

5. Set limits and be consistent
● Providing redirection for infants as young as 6 months old works best. Generally, between 12 and 18 months old, kids learn to respond to “no” by stopping what they are doing. For example, when our Little One tries to open the refrigerator, we stop what we are doing, pick him up, and say something like “no, babies can’t go in the refrigerator, they should play with their toys” and put him closer to his “baby fun cabinet” or in the living room with his toys.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Badge of Courage Awarded to GTCC Student

This young man is a role model for all of us. Instead of walking past someone in need, he took action and saved a life. We are so proud of him!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Are You Ready For Some Football? A Discussion on Concussions

Written by: Matthew Baldwin, Student Resident at Cone Health

Football season is just around the corner and with all of the gridiron glory that comes with a new football season also comes some drawbacks: more dirty laundry, two-a-days, late Friday nights, and (for most parents) worry. With new interest in the lasting effects of concussions being discussed on the professional level, comes rising anxiety that most parents have about their children playing contact sports. Hopefully some answers to these frequently asked questions below will help address some concerns that you might have.

How prevalent are concussions? The short answer is pretty prevalent; somewhere between 1.6- 3.7 million sports-related concussions take place every year. In US high school football it is estimated that as many as 20% of players will sustain a concussion every season. Football isn’t the only culprit however, as sports like soccer, basketball, and baseball all demonstrate risk for concussion.

What is a concussion? While there is no singular definition as to exactly what constitutes a concussion, the most widely agreed upon description of a concussion comes from the American Academy of Neurology who clarify that a concussion is a “trauma-induced alteration in mental status that may or may not involve loss of consciousness.” [1]

How do I know if my child has a concussion? There are many signs and symptoms to look for that might suggest your child is experiencing a concussion. Common signs include a vacant stare, slowed speech, disorientation (eg. not recognizing familiar surroundings), poor coordination, a change in personality, and a loss of consciousness. Common symptoms include headache, amnesia, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, sleep disturbances, vision changes, and sensitivity to light or sound.

What should I do if I suspect my child has a concussion? First and foremost, remove your child from play. Next, have them examined by a trained professional who can administer a neurological exam to determine if your child might have a concussion. Most high school sporting events will have someone in attendance trained in how to administer these tests, but if you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to take your child to see a physician. If a trainer believes your child to have a concussion, they should instruct you to see a physician who can further evaluate and manage your child’s condition

When can my child return to play? NO athlete should be allowed to return to play while signs or symptoms of concussion are present. Currently, most guidelines suggest that players not be permitted to resume participation in sports until they have been completely SYMPTOM FREE for AT LEAST ONE WEEK.[2]

Hopefully these questions and answers could respond to some of your concerns. For a more comprehensive discussion on concussions, feel free to visit the CDC’s website on concussions: Game On!

[1] “Practice Parameter: The management of concussions in sport”, American Academy of Neurology, Neurology 1997;48:581-585.
[2] Evans et. Al, “Concussion and mild traumatic brain injury”, Uptodate(last updated Sept 2011), accessed July 17th, 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hot Summer Temperatures = Hot Cars, What every parent should know...

As the summer temperatures heat up, so does your car. Whether it's a few minutes or hours, vehicles heat up quickly in the summer sunshine. Did you know that temperatures inside a car can rise 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes? Childrens' bodies can heat up quickly as well. Did you know that a child's body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than adults? This makes them much more susceptible to heat stroke. Find out more at and share this link with your friends.

Often, hyperthermia tragedies occur when a parent or caregiver has forgotten the child is with them or unaware the child is in the vehicle. Occurences such as a change in routine, where a parent or caregiver is giving transport to the child when they normally don't and forget the quiet or sleeping child in the back seat. It can also happen when a child has climbed into an unlocked vehicle to play or hide. These accidents can happen to anyone.

In today's modern world of technology, there are even ways to get reminders through our cell phones! There's an app for iphones called "Baby Reminder". You can download this app that will send you an alert reminding you about your child when you reach a destination, by setting up the app to monitor you between specific times. Check it out at http://bit/ly/HnTxEl . A version for the Droid will be available soon. There are many other options you can use to help remind yourself to never leave your child alone. You should determine which option is best for you.

As we urge parents and caregivers to never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute, we also want to share some tips that could save a life.


Avoid: Never leaving your child alone in a car, even for a minute. Consistently locking unattended vehicle doors and trunks.

Create reminders and habits: Establish a peace-of-mind plan. When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers, so all of you know where your child is at all times. Place a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cell phone or an item that is needed at your next stop in the back seat. Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer calendar as a reminder to drop your child off at childcare. Make a habit of looking in the vehicle, both front and back seats, before locking the door and walking away. Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected.

Take action: If you see an unattended child in a vehicle, dial 911 immediately and follow the instructions that emergency personnel provide- they are trained to determine if a child is in danger.

*Please teach children not to play in or around vehicles. Store vehicle keys out of the reach of children.

For more information on ACT and how to prevent child heatstroke deaths visit Safe Kids wants everyone to have a safe and enjoyable summer.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Swim safely while having fun!

Summertime is just around the corner. Parents and children alike are excited about opening day at the local pools or even in their own backyards.

Swimming pools can be fun but can pose just as many safety concerns. Safe Guilford wants to make sure you and your family are ready for summer fun at the pool by sharing safety tips from the CPSC.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has launched Pool Safely: Simple Steps to Save Lives campaign to encourage safety around pools. Visit for a list of Simple Steps Save Lives with information on water safety steps to keep your family safe around pools and spas. There is also information for residential pool & spa owners.

Parents and caregivers can find even more information on the Safe Kids USA website by visiting the following link:

No matter where your favorite swimming pool is located, remember to use the water safety steps and keep everyone safe and happy this summer!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Is your child's safety seat ready for summer travel?

Vacation season is fast approaching and many families will find themselves venturing out on road trips. As a parent, I'm always making a to-do list so I don't forget to do some very important things before the trip. What does your list include?

One item you should always put on your list is making sure your child's car seat is installed properly. A few simple check points to make sure the child safety seat is secure: 1) Check the seat belt or latch anchors to make sure they are secure and snug. 2) Check the harnesses to be sure the straps aren't twisted or too loose. 3) Since the car is packed with everything you need for a vacation, check for items that would pose a risk of injury if they became projectiles in the car.

Safe Guilford encourages everyone to have their child's safety seat checked before you begin your travels. In recognition of National Safe Kids Week, Safe Guilford is hosting a Car Seat Safety Check Event to help you prepare for your upcoming trips.

Car Seat Safety Check Event

Saturday, April 28


209 Pisgah Church Rd. (beside Chick-Fil-A and Frozato)

Greensboro, NC

If you can't attend the event, please check our lists of permanent checking stations in the right-hand corner of our main page and make an appointment with the location closest to you. Happy Travels.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Parents, do you know what to do with old and unneeded medications?

When I opened the bathroom medicine cabinet the other day, I realized how full it has become and I began to question why I still have old, unused medications stashed away and what will I do with them.  Fortunately, as the 50th Anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week approaches, I now have the opportunity to rid my house of these unused and dangerous drugs by dropping off the medications at local Operation Medicine Drop Events.

OMD is an effort to provide people with a safe way to dispose of old or unneeded prescriptions, veterinary, or over-the-counter medications.  Operation Medicine Drop Events will take place throughout the state during Poison Prevention Week with the efforts of Safe Kids NC, NC Department of Insurance, US Drug Enforcement Agency, the SBI, and other local agencies, including the Guilford County Sheriff's Department.  The mission is to educate the public about proper disposal of medications, prevent poisonings, drug abuse, and protect our waterways. 

As a parent reading the statistics on unintentional poisonings, I realize keeping the unused and expired medications in my home was more of a hazaard than I knew.  Since 1999, more than 75% of all unintentional poisonings were caused by prescription or over-the-counter medications (source: NC Div. of Public Health).  Approximately 40% of injuries from unintentional poisonings occur in children under 5 years old.  Another alarming statistic I read was from the 2010 NSDUH:  Of those age 12 and older who abused pain relievers in the past year, 55% got them from friends and family for free, including from their home medicine cabinets.  

In an effort to educate the public during National Poison Prevention Week, I'd like to share some safety tips from Safe Kids on medicine safety in your home:
*Always store medicines and vitamins up and away in a locked location, and out of sight of children.
*Never give adult medications to children
*Never call medications candy or tell children it tastes like candy
*Always use the dosing device packaged with medications.  Never use a household utensil, such as a teaspoon or tablespoon, to measure medications
*Always keep the Poison Control Center phone # by your phone and program into your cell phones:  1-800-222-1222.
*Remind babysitters,houseguests, and visitors to keep purses and bags that contain medicine up and away when they visit your home.

Guilford County's Operation Medicine Events will be at the following locations:
Monday, March 19 from 10am-4pm at Pleasant Garden Drug Store, Pleasant Garden
Tuesday, March 20 from 10am-4pm at Midtown Pharmacy, Whitsett
Tuesday, March 20 from 1pm-4pm at McLeansville Lions Club, McLeansville

For more information on OMD events, visit or

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's National Burn Awareness Week

by Cheryl Ledford

In recognition of National Burn Awareness Week, Safe Guilford would like to provide you tips that may help prevent a burn injury in your home.  Did you know that in 2009, 335 children under the age of 14 died due to fire or burn related injuries?  According to reports from the American Burn Association, scalding injuries were the most prevalent in children under 5, while fire/flame injuries were most prevalent for all other age groups.

Scalding is a burn from hot liquid or steam and usually occur in the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom.  Since children have thinner skin than adults, they can get severe burns at lower temperatures and in less time.  One solution to help prevent scalding in your home is to control the water temperature of the hot water heater.  Children can get scalded from the hot tap water coming from the kitchen and bathroom faucets.  If you have children in your home or visit your home, the temperature of your hot water heater should be set to no more than 120 Degrees Farenheit. 

Here are more safety tips from Safe Kids to prevent burns in your household:

Kitchen and Hot Food
o       Keep children at least 3 feet from hot appliances, pots, pans, food or liquids.
o       Use spill-resistant mugs when drinking hot liquids around children.
o       Avoid using tablecloths or anything a child can pull on and cause hot food to spill.
o       When cooking, use back burners and keep pot handles turned towards the back of the stove.
o       Always tuck appliance cords where children cannot reach them.
o       Never hold a child when cooking something hot.
o       Test and stir all food before serving children to make sure it is cool enough to eat.
o       Closely supervise children when they are in or near the kitchen.
o       Always test the bath water with your hand before bathing children. 
o       When children are in or near the bath, watch them closely, and check the water temperature frequently. 
If you are unable to control the temperature that comes out of your faucet, install special tub spouts or shower heads that can shut off the flow of water when it gets too hot.