Archive for the ‘Safety Tips’ Category

Kids and ATVs: The Deaths and Injuries Continue

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

I’ve been writing my kids’ health column, “Health Notes,” for more than a decade, and every year, I receive the same sad statistics on kids and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Too many kids are dying here. Enough already!

In a recent year, more than 100 children died in ATV accidents, according to the CPSC. An additional estimated 146,600 people were treated in emergency rooms for ATV-related injuries. More than a quarter of those were kids.

Pennsylvania has had the highest number of reported ATV deaths since 1982, followed by California, West Virginia, Texas and Kentucky. Every state had at least one death related to ATVs. Most of the deaths and injuries to children are the result of kids riding adult-size ATVs.

In more than 75 percent of the incidents where the vehicle’s speed could be determined, it appeared that the ATVs were going too fast for conditions. In nearly 60 percent of the deaths, riders were not wearing helmets. That’s just plain nuts. For younger riders, ages 6 to 11, about 30 percent of the ATV accidents involved collisions and at least 27 percent involved ATVs that rolled over.

Let’s get real. These things aren’t toys. They require proper instruction, helmet use, adult supervision and the proper size ATV for the child. Young kids simply can’t handle adult-sized ATVs safely. The CPSC — and emergency-room docs — can only ring the warning bell. It’s up to parents to do the rest.

“Mom, I Know You Just Got Me Dressed in Eight Layers, But I Have to Go Potty!”

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

OK, I live in L.A. I can’t complain about the weather, right? But I was born in Ohio, and I remember being bundled into my snowsuit in February just to go outside and play for an hour. (And then, invariably, I’d have to go to the bathroom way too soon and my poor mom would have to peek off all those layers…)

Watching the Weather Channel, I realize my kid is growing up without some of the outdoor experiences I had as a kid. And those snow days are great memories. But you gotta keep those little ones safe and toasty when it’s so cold outside.

As a kids’ health writer, I’m always looking for great tips to share with parents, and these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center are just what you need this time of year to keep your kids safe and comfortable:

°         Think layers. The rule of thumb for older babies and young children is to dress them in one more layer of clothing than an adult would wear in the same conditions. Clothing for older kids during very cold weather should include thermal long johns, turtlenecks, one or two shirts, pants, sweater, coat, warm socks, boots, gloves or mittens and a hat.

°         Keep your baby warm — and safe — at night. Blankets, quilts, pillows, sheepskins and other loose bedding may contribute to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and should be kept out of an infant’s bed. A one-piece sleeper is preferred.

°         Avoid hypothermia. This condition develops when a child’s temperature falls below normal due to exposure to cold. It often happens when a youngster is playing outdoors in extremely cold weather without wearing proper clothing. As hypothermia sets in, the child may shiver and become lethargic and clumsy. His speech may become slurred and his body temperature will decline. If you suspect your child is hypothermic, call 911 at once. Until help arrives, take the child indoors, remove any wet clothing and wrap him in blankets or warm clothes.

°         Prevent frostbite. Frostbite develops when the skin and outer tissues become frozen. Fingers, toes, ears and nose are most at risk, and they may become pale, gray and blistered. The child may complain that her skin burns or has become numb. To protect against frostbite, set reasonable time limits on outdoor play. Have children come inside periodically to warm up. (Young children should be checked every half hour when playing outside in cold weather.) If frostbite occurs, bring the child indoors and place the frostbitten parts of her body in warm (not hot) water. Warm washcloths may be applied to frostbitten areas. Do not rub the frozen areas. After a few minutes, dry and cover the child with clothing or blankets. Give her something warm to drink. If the numbness continues for more than a few minutes, call your doctor.

°         Don’t forget the sunscreen and lip balm. The sun’s rays can still cause sunburn in the winter, especially when they reflect off snow. Make sure to cover your child’s exposed skin with sunscreen.

Guest Post: “Bath Salts” — What Parents Need to Know About These Dangerous New Drugs

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Today I’m happy to welcome Richard J. Geller, M.D., MPH, of the California Poison Control System, as a guest blogger on Parent Talk Today. To learn more about bath salts and other harmful substances, along with info on how to talk with your kids about these issues, follow California Poison Control System on Facebook and @poisoninfo on Twitter. Thanks, Dr. Geller, for this important info for parents.

Beginning in September, 2010, U.S. poison control centers began to receive reports of patients ill from the effects of a series of previously unreported drugs of abuse collectively known as “bath salts.”  These agents have nothing to do with bathing, and, like the synthetic cannabinoids marketed as “spice,” are marketed as something other than what they really are.  Most recent data as of this week is that U.S. poison centers took 236 calls for 2010. We are at 220 to date for 2011.

“Bath salts” are powders that are often sold in 250 mg amounts, packaged in either small zip-lock bags or in jar-like containers, costing $15 to $65.  Like methamphetamine, they are ingested, snorted, smoked or injected, and have been placed in the rectum and vagina. Users are most often males ages 20 to 25 years.

What is known about “bath salts” is that they combine the more dangerous effects of a number of previously identified drugs of abuse: visual and sometimes auditory hallucinations similar, and possibly worse, than LSD; rapid tolerance and craving similar to crack cocaine; extremely violent behavior similar to PCP and methamphetamine; and an unusually long duration of effect and psychotic behavior that may not resolve after the drug is eliminated from the body.

“Bath salts” were first observed in Louisiana, where more than 200 exposures have been reported to the Louisiana Poison Control Center.  Several “bath salt” users have mutilated themselves with knives. One shot himself in the head.  Law enforcement officials believe that eventually they will have to use extreme force with “bath salt” users.  Visual hallucinations caused one user to barricade himself in an attic with a shotgun, threatening to kill the occupants of the home.  Significant “bath salt” use is now being reported in Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi and Missouri.

On both the federal and state levels, “bath salts” have been legal to sell and to use.  Louisiana’s Secretary of Health and Hospitals signed an emergency declaration in January 2011 banning the sale of “bath salts” in that state, resulting in an immediate slowing of reports of illness to the state’s poison control center.  Other states are considering similar measures.

The most common substance identified in “bath salts” is 3,4-Methylenedioxypyrovalerone, also known as MDPV, and marketed as Ivory Wave and Energy-1.  Commonly found is Mephedrone, also known as 4-Methylmethcathinone, a compound very similar in structure to Methamphetamine, and marketed as Bounce, Bubbles, M-CAT, Mad Cow and Meow Meow.  Other substances implicated as “bath salts” are 3,4-Methylenedioxymethcathinone (Methylone), 4-Methoxymethcathinone, 4-Fluoromethcathinone and 3-Fluoromethcathinone.  The latter four substances are derivatives of Methcathinone, also known as Khat, Jeff and Cat, a drug structurally and pharmaceutically similar to methamphetamine.  Methcathenone has a long history as a drug of abuse in Asia.

The Louisiana experience suggests that law enforcement personnel encountering “bath salt” users should be prepared to deal with extremely confused (visual hallucinations) and possibly very violent individuals who may be armed.  Healthcare professionals encountering “bath salt” users should be aware that the usual sedative medications, i.e., benzodiazepines, may not be effective, and that major tranquillizers, especially ziprasidone, have been useful.

The California Poison Control System believes that “Bath Salt” products are a grave danger to public health, and urges that immediate steps be taken to ban their sale in California.

Texting and Driving: Ask Your Teens to Watch This Video

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Thanks to AT&T for producing this video showing the victims whose lives were changed in a horrible instant, and the next of kin of young people who died, after driving while texting.

Watch it. Then ask your teens and tweens to watch it. Heck, ask your kids’ friends to watch it. We can’t stop spreading the word on the dangers of texting and driving. Too many lives are at risk.

Consumer Reports Wants to Ask Your High Schooler About Distracted Driving

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Consumer Reports is surveying high school students about their attitudes and practices regarding distracted driving. And they need your help.

If your child is in high school, please ask him or her to take this quick Survey Monkey survey. When the results are published this spring, I’ll link to them here. Thanks!

(Note: I’m the social-media reporter for Consumer Reports. Follow me on Twitter at @CReporter for all the latest consumer news! You can also follow me at @kathysena.) And be sure to check out the wonderful Consumer Reports blogs.

Should You Use Your Phone To Track Your Kids on Halloween?

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Are you planning to personally keep an eye on your kids this Halloween as they go door to door? Or are you comfortable using a cell-phone-based GPS tracker?, based in Memphis, TN, spoke with Jane Schneider, editor of Memphis Parent, about the new “Trick-or-Tracker” Android app ($9.99) that allows parents to monitor their children’s whereabouts. (Of course, any GPS tracker will do the same thing. You don’t need one specifically designed for Halloween.)

What do you think about this? Would you use one? Do you think parents are shirking their responsibilities by using a tracker? Or is it a handy high-tech tool for today’s parents?

Check out the article and the interview with Schneider, then let us know what you think.

Suggestively Sucking Popsicles — in a Bubblebath With a Friend? Just Another Day in the Life of Some Teens on Facebook

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Wanted to share with you my guest post on about kids giving out too much info on FB…

Do you know what your kids post? I saw one FB profile pic today featuring two young teen girls together in a bubble bath, wearing flesh-colored tube tops and sucking suggestively on Popsicles. Their mothers would be so proud… if they knew.

Make sure you know what your kids are up to on social media — for their safety.

Cross-Country Parents, Share This With Your Kids

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

You may have heard about Conor Lynch, the 16-year-old Notre Dame High School student in Sherman Oaks, CA who was killed by a hit-and-run driver Tuesday during a cross country training run at 3:45 p.m.

I just read an article in the Los Angeles Daily News about the incident and it broke my heart. The tributes from fellow students and friends on a quickly created “RIP Conor Lynch” Facebook page are so sad.

Of course we all remind our kids to “be careful out there.” But I’m going to ask my 14-year-old son — who runs cross country for his high school and was doing his own practice run at 3:45 p.m. on Tuesday —  to read this article so he can see just how quickly a tragedy can occur.

People drive without paying attention sometimes. Kids have their minds on lots of stuff. Things can happen in the blink of an eye. I think we need to share this story with our kids and remind them that they are no match for a car or an SUV.

Our kids will tell us we worry too much. They’ll say they’re careful. But still… Let’s let them know how important this is.