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Kids' Safety

May 14, 2021

The Top 10 Urban Legends About Kids: Are They True?

Istock_000000815564xsmall_2 Are evil-doers really lacing kids' fake tattoos with LSD? Did a certain "Pokemon" episode actually give Japanese kids seizures? Find the answers to these and eight more urban legends (or are they true?...) on a terrific post by Amy S.F. Lutz over at Strollerderby.

With websites like Snopes and Urban Legends & Superstitions and T.V. shows like MythBusters, it's getting easier to figure out whether the stories we read about, in too-frequent crazy e-mails from certain friends and relatives, are true. (And you know you have someone in your life who just loves to send you these.)

So are Webkinz really being murdered online? I love how this blogger brought together 10 of the most-heard urban legends about kids and got to the bottom of things. Check it out.


March 21, 2022

Hey, Doc — Can You Talk With My Kid About Sex?

When we bring our wanna-be-teen and teenage kids to the doctor for routine check-ups, many of us are hoping our kid's doctor or nurse practitioner will do more than just check blood pressure, listen to our child’s heart and keep the vaccination record up to date.

We also want the doctor to talk with our kids about sex, diet, drug abuse and smoking, says a new report from the University of Michigan.

The poll — which asked parents of 11- to 17-year-old kids to rate 18 health-related topics for healthcare providers to address during an adolescent’s routine check-up — found that diet/nutrition, exercise/sports and the physical changes of puberty were the overall top three issues parents want discussed, followed by drugs, tobacco, sexually transmitted diseases and depression/suicide.

Doctors have heard it all, and they know how to talk with teens and pre-teens about these potentially touchy topics. So if there’s something on your mind that you’d like your child’s doctor to discuss during an upcoming office visit, call her in advance and let her know.

P.S. This all leads me to a question our family is considering right now: When to switch 12-year-old Matt from our much-loved pediatrician to our family doctor, who is also terrific. Matt has been seeing the same doctor since he was a toddler, but lately when we enter the waiting room, he looks pretty out of place, at 5'6," surrounded by those tiny chairs and Thomas the Tank Engine books.

If you've made the switch and given up your pediatrician, how old was your child when you did it? And are you happy you switched?

March 19, 2022

Kids' Solo Travel Made Easier

How did parents ever survive without the Internet? Just think how often we take it for granted these days.

Need a recipe for homemade clay? Google it. Want to know the symptoms of fifth disease? It's all there. Need the lyrics to a Led Zeppelin song to win a bet with your teenager? The Web is your not-so-secret weapon.

So of course I knew right where to go when Randy and I decided that our son, Matt, would be taking his first solo flight (as an "unaccompanied minor," to use the airlines' terminology).

After talking with the airline and scoping everything out, I relied on Google to dig up some additional tips. The best ones I found were at, including:

°   If possible, select early-morning flights. These are delayed less often and, if there is a problem, the airline still has the whole day to sort things out and still deliver your child.

°    Make sure the person picking up your child at the other end has proper photo ID. If the airline is doing its job, they won’t release your child to a person without ID no matter how loudly your kid shouts “Grandma! Grandma!”

Will I still worry a little until Matt's safely back home? Sure. But Delta Airlines couldn't have been more helpful in answering my basic questions. And Google and helped me answer those questions I didn't even know I had. Gotta love the Web.

March 04, 2022

Kids and ATVs — What Are We Thinking?

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!

More than 100 children died in ATV accidents in 2006 (the most current data available), 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.

February 11, 2022

How Does Your Kid's Car Seat Rate?

When our son, Matthew, was born, my husband and I had so many questions. Car seats, in particular, were confusing. What to get? Where to look for safety ratings? Would a particular car seat work in our car? Sheesh! Just the kind of hassles sleepless parents need, right?

Well, that whole thing just got a bit easier. A new government rating system grades child-safety seats on ease of installation. U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have released ratings for 78 child-safety seats currently available.

NHTSA says 7 out of 10 child-safety seats are either the wrong size for the child or are seriously misused, reducing their effectiveness in a crash. (When properly used, child-restraint systems reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers in passenger cars. In light trucks, fatal injuries are reduced by 58 percent for infants and 59 percent for toddlers.)

For a complete list of the new rankings, visit and click on “Child Seat Ease of Use Ratings” under “Quick Clicks.”

Wish this had been around back in the day!

January 18, 2022

Zoned Out

As a mom who endured six years (egads!) of driving through our elementary school's drop-off zone before my son headed to middle school this year, I can attest to the fact that the parent volunteers there work tirelessly, day after day, politely encouraging parents to keep the zone moving and working hard to keep kids from being whacked at the kneecaps by their parents’ vehicles.

Dexter Ford's wonderful article, "Zone Master," appears in today's Easy Reader magazine, published  in the Los Angeles area. [Gotta love the cover art (left), too.] I have to share a taste of it with you, to entice you to check out the rest:

Every school morning at 8, give or take, you can find me standing, like a grizzly bear in cargo shorts, at the hilltop cul-de-sac where 13th Street meets John Street. Expensive cars, pickup trucks, minivans and SUVs, dozens of SUVs, climb like caterpillars up 13th Street, waiting their turn for me to open their doors, yank backpacks, science projects and cellos out onto the curb, and shepherd their giggling spawn into the schoolyard, hopefully without sustaining blunt-force trauma.

That last part is more of a challenge than you might think. If you have kids, and you enjoy scaring yourself, you should come up to The Zone some morning and watch...

To read the entire article, click here.

January 12, 2022

You'll Poke Your Eye Out!

The next time your kids complain about having to wear eye protection during sports, show them this:

More than 40,000 people a year suffer eye injuries while playing sports, according to Prevent Blindness America.

For all age groups, sports-related eye injuries occur most frequently in baseball, basketball and racquet sports.

The good news: Almost all of these eye injuries can be prevented by taking the following steps:

    ° Wear proper safety goggles (lensed polycarbonate protectors) for racquet sports or basketball.

    ° Use batting helmets with polycarbonate face shields for youth baseball.

    ° Use helmets and face shields approved by the U.S. Amateur Hockey Association when playing hockey.

    ° Know that regular glasses don't provide enough protection.

Of course, if the entire team wears the proper equipment, that goes a long way toward making protective gear cool. So talk with your child's coaches about this important safety issue.

December 17, 2021

Hey Kid, Strap on That Helmet!

Every time I see a kid riding on a bike or a skateboard either without a helmet or with a helmet that's not strapped on, I want to stop him and say "Are you nuts? Do your parents know you're doing this?"

So many kids seem to think that wearing an unstrapped helmet fulfills the letter of the law. But it's buckling that strap that will help keep a 12-year-old's brain intact if he gets hit by an SUV.

In fact, in our town, a seventh-grade boy is recovering right now from being hit by an SUV while riding his bike. His injuries were severe, and he has a long recovery ahead of him, but the doctors say he would probably have been killed if he hadn't been wearing a helmet.

"Each year about 300 children are killed and more than 400,000 children go to hospital emergency rooms due to bicycle injuries," says Consumer Product Safety Commission chairperson Ann Brown. "Children between 5 and 14 have the highest injury rate of all bicycle riders, and bicycle accidents are the leading cause of death in this age group."

The greatest tragedy is that many of these injuries could be prevented if riders wore their helmets. "In fact, young bicyclists can reduce the risk of head injury or death by up to 85 percent if they wear a helmet," she says.

Talk with your kids today about wearing a helmet — and buckling it — whenever they're on wheels. The life you save may be your child's.

November 09, 2021

"Made in China" — Time for a Toy Boycott?

Like a whole bunch of steaming parents today, I'm angry.

Aqua Dots, a craft-bead kit for kids, has been yanked from U.S. stores because the coating on the beads, which causes the beads to stick to each other when water is added, contains a chemical that can turn toxic. Children who swallow the beads can become comatose, develop respiratory depression or have seizures. A number of kids have been hospitalized after playing with the beads.

Apparently the company in China that makes Aqua Dots decided to switch out the glue on the product, substituting a (less-expensive, of course) substance that can kill when ingested. Gotta love their concern for kids.

The parade of Chinese-made toys that have been recalled due to safety issues has become a huge, scary issue for parents of young kids. And with the holidays on the way, I have to agree with Meredith Vieira, who, on the Today Show yesterday, suggested that parents might want to just stop buying toys made in China. In fact, Vieira's off-hand suggestion, at the end of a news piece on the recall, seemed more helpful than that from a Bush-administration rep who said something to the effect of "We recommend buying toys from someone you trust."

How is a parent supposed to know which major toy manufacturers to trust when even Mattel, whom parents have trusted for years, has ended up on the wrong end of the stick, more than once lately, when it comes to inadvertently selling toys that contain dangerous amounts of lead?

I guess President Bush is telling us we're on our own on this one. So who can blame the woman who came into a Southern California store yesterday and told the clerk, "I just want to look at toys that aren't made in China."

Good idea. If our leaders can't protect us any more than they have been from toys containing lead and other toxic substances, I guess we'll just have to look out for our own families — and vote with our wallet this holiday season.


October 29, 2021

Have a Happy — and Safe — Halloween

Thanks to the American Red Cross for their easy-to-follow tips to keep our little ghosts and goblins safe on Halloween night:

°     Older kids should plan their route and share it with their family — and always go with a friend, not alone. Younger kids should always be accompanied by an adult.
°    Always walk on sidewalks, not in the street.
°    Look both ways before crossing the street to check for cars, trucks, and low-flying brooms.
°    Cross the street only at corners.
°    Don't hide or cross the street between parked cars.
°     Wear light-colored or reflective-type clothing so you are more visible.
°    Carry a flashlight to light your way.
°    Keep away from open fires and candles. (Costumes can be extremely flammable.)
°    Visit homes that have the porch light on.
°    Accept your treats at the door and never go into a stranger's house.
°     Use face paint rather than masks or things that will cover your eyes.
°    Be cautious of animals and strangers.
°     Have an adult inspect treats before eating. And don't eat candy if the package is already opened.
°    Avoid giving young children small, hard pieces of candy. They’re a choking hazard.

Have fun Wednesday night!

P.S. Here's Matt with our good friend Nancy Klosowski. (Can you tell Nancy is a lot of fun?)

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