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The Children's Wellness Blog

How to Create a Safer Home for Your Children, Part 2: Childproofing for Every Age

April 21, 2017

child-safetyThe transition to parenthood when your first child is born is undoubtedly one of the most drastic changes you will ever make in your life, and many parents need every bit of those nine months of pregnancy to prepare. One item on that mile-long to-do list is babyproofing the home. While that’s an important step, many parents cross it off their list when their home is ready for a newborn and assume the task is finished. But in reality, every stage of development your child reaches carries its own dangers for pediatric injuries—crawling, walking, climbing, and so on, so it’s important to reassess your home’s safety at each developmental milestone, even including adolescence. Our physicians at Children’s Wellness Center have a few childproofing tips that are often overlooked for each age range, so following the steps below for your child’s age can create a safer home, so you can worry less and enjoy your child more.

Childproofing for Infancy

  • Anchor all potentially tippable furniture (bookshelves, desks, etc.) to the wall. Be sure that all televisions are secured as well, because these are often overlooked as large, heavy items that can easily be tipped onto a child.
  • Comb the house for choking hazards (which includes anything smaller than the opening in a toilet paper roll).
  • Place a paper on the refrigerator or in another prominent place that lists the phone numbers for all emergency services, such as poison control, the local police station, your pediatrician, and any other relevant providers, as well as your own cell phone and work phone numbers. Not only is this helpful for babysitters, but it makes the information for emergency action easier for you to find in a hectic situation as well.
  • Research any houseplants you have (or are planning to get), because some can actually be dangerous for children.
  • Make sure your windows’ blinds do not have looped cords. Ideally, you should look for blinds that are entirely cordless.

Childproofing for the Toddler Years

  • Single-use packets for laundry or dishwasher detergent can look like candy and be particularly dangerous because the soap is highly concentrated, so either avoid them or store them in a very secure place that is out of your toddler’s reach.
  • On top of storing poisonous chemicals out of your child’s reach, choose a specific sticker or picture to put on these bottles and teach your child what it means
  • Children can drown in as little as one inch of water, so install a lock on your toilet lid.
  • Install window guards, and avoid having furniture placed in a way that children can climb on it to get to high windows.
  • As soon as your child is using the bathtub without a baby bath, install a non-slip mat, and remember to never leave your child unattended in the bathtub.
  • Store all medications out of your child’s reach.
  • Install outlet covers on all of your electrical outlets, and be sure to use covers that are too large to be choking hazards.
  • Remove or modify furniture that has sharp edges (such as certain coffee tables, television stands, etc.).
  • If you have a fireplace with stones surrounding it or with a stone hearth, cover the stones to avoid injuries.

Childproofing for the Elementary Years

  • As soon as your child is tall enough to reach the edge of your countertops, be cautious not to place anything too close to the edges of countertops.
  • Make sure your child is still unable to get through door latches and other safety locks, and step up to more difficult locks if necessary.
  • Show your child what the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm sound like and explain to them what to do if they hear one of the alarms.

Childproofing for Adolescences

  • Make sure all medications (especially prescription, but ideally over-the-counter as well) and alcohol is locked up. But keep in mind that this should also be paired with educating your teen about the dangers of underage drinking.
  • When your child is able to drive, make very specific teen driving rules about when and where they are allowed to drive. The Georgia Department of Driver Services offers a wealth of information and tips for parents about keeping your teen driver safe.
  • As much as you may trust your teenager, don’t avoid taking precautions. Not only can teens act out-of-character when they’re under peer pressure, but you can’t trust that their friends or guests will be as responsible as your child is.
  • Consider a rule against allowing your teen to use certain equipment or appliances when you aren’t home, such as the lawnmower or power tools, the stove, or other potentially dangerous items, regardless of how routinely they use them while supervised.

Making your home a safe environment for a baby and toddler is one of the top concerns on many parents’ minds, but the older a child gets, the easier it can become to forget what new types of hazards they may encounter. While the list above is absolutely not a comprehensive one, it can be a helpful way to start thinking about your environment and help you think of precautions you may have overlooked. To further discuss creating a safe home for your child, schedule an appointment with Children’s Wellness Center in our patient portal. Plus, keep an eye out in the coming weeks for Part 3 in our childproofing series.

Spring Break Safety Tips

March 31, 2017

Spring Break Safety TipsSpring break has arrived, and as hectic as life can be as you prepare for a vacation, a getaway with your children offers valuable quality time and lets you build lifelong memories for your family. But in the midst of all the spring break fun, helping your kids stay safe is a top priority for all of us at Children’s Wellness Center (CWC). With that goal in mind, here are some essential safety tips for any activity you’re enjoying throughout your spring break:

On the Road:

  • If you’re flying to your destination and renting a vehicle, plan ahead to have the type of car safety seat you need. Car rental companies typically have car safety seats available for you to use, but if you’re concerned about having a seat that will fit your child properly, it may be a good idea to bring your own.
  • On long drives, make stops about every two hours to let both yourself and your child take a break and stretch.
  • Particularly if you’re flying, wash your child’s hands frequently and consider bringing cleansing wipes as well for a more convenient option. Travel tends to bring you into contact with a lot of bacteria, and being vigilant may help your child avoid a pediatric illness.
  • Never leave your child alone in the car, regardless of whether the doors are locked, how long you plan to be away, or how hot or cool it may be outside.

In the Sun:

  • For infants under 6 months of age, avoid direct sunlight. Keep them in the shade, and if necessary, you can apply a very small amount of sunscreen on exposed skin.
  • For all children, don’t rely on sunscreen alone to protect them from sun damage. Dress them in light yet tightly-woven fabric (such as cotton), ideally with long sleeves, as well as a wide-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses for eye protection.
  • Any time you’re using a new sunscreen, do a “spot test”: apply sunscreen to a small area of skin to make sure your child doesn’t have an allergic reaction. We also recommend looking for hypoallergenic sunscreens, such as those offered by Neutrogena and Aveeno.
  • When you’re looking for a sunscreen, make sure you select one that is “broad-spectrum” (meaning that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of 30 or higher. Preferably, select one that is waterproof as well, but regardless, be sure to reapply every 1.5-2 hours.
  • Sunscreen needs time on the skin before it becomes effective, so apply it 30 minutes before your child goes outside.

At the Beach:

  • When you arrive at the beach, take stock of the area. Look for any signs or flags that indicate water conditions, and make sure that you know where the lifeguard is, where the designated swimming area is, and where there may be underwater rocks or other hazards. If possible, keep your child near the lifeguard while they’re swimming.
  • Teach your children about rip currents, and show them how to swim parallel to the shore if they find themselves in a rip current.
  • If you see lightening or if there are reports of lightening in the area, leave the beach immediately.
  • Use “touch supervision” – stay within arm’s reach of your child any time they are in or near the water.

At the Pool:

  • Never allow your child to swim alone. Even if he/she is a skilled swimmer, unforeseen accidents can always happen to cause pediatric injuries.
  • Make sure your child uses a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket that fits properly. Do not rely on “floaties” (such as the popular inflatable arm bands) to keep your child safe. While they can help, they are not strong enough to prevent drowning, so they are not a substitute for proper supervision.
  • Make sure your child knows never to dive into water unless it is specifically permitted and an adult has verified the water depth and checked for underwater dangers.

In the Heat:

  • When it’s hot and/or humid outside, limit the amount of time your children spend on strenuous activities.
  • Make sure your child always has water available when they need it and that they are consistently drinking enough water.
  • If you’re in a warmer climate than your children are used to, ease them into outdoor activities. Keep their outdoor active time to a minimum for the first day and gradually increase it.
  • Spend as little time as possible outside between 10am and 2pm, because these are the hours during which the sun is particularly strong and the weather is at its hottest.

You’ve probably been looking forward to spring break for months, and by all means, you should make the most of your time with your kids. But you can have a fantastic week while also keeping your family safe, and at Children’s Wellness Center, we’re here to help. For more health and safety tips for your child, explore our website or schedule a pediatric appointment through our patient portal. Plus, for daily updates and health news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

How to Create a Safer Home for Your Kids (Part 1)

March 27, 2017

How to Create a Safer Home for Your Kids (Part 1)One of the most common concerns for parents with young children is the safety of their kids. The first step towards alleviating some of this stress is doing whatever you can to childproof your home. Keeping basic safety items on-hand and making minor modifications to certain areas of the home can be a great way to make your house safer for the entire family. For starters, always keep a first aid kit in the house and make sure it contains bandages, gauze, cotton swabs, antiseptic wipes, a bottle of healing ointment and other items that you feel are appropriate. In addition to your first aid kit, we suggest keeping the following home safety devices in your home:

Fire & Chemical Safety Items

  • Install smoke detectors throughout your home (at least one on every level) and regularly check them to confirm they are still working.
  • Try to find smoke detectors with long-life batteries; otherwise set an annual reminder to change the batteries.
  • Keep fire extinguishers in the kitchen, garage and basement and make sure you know how to use them effectively.
  • Make sure the house has functioning carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and change their batteries annually.
  • Cover a fireplace with stone to keep kids away at all times.

Electrical Safety Items

  • Use childproof outlet covers in all unused electrical outlets to keep kids from sticking their fingers (or other objects) into the holes. Also try blocking unused outlets with furniture.
  • When not in use, outlet covers should be stored away from kids to prevent a potential choking hazard.
  • Use a power strip cover to keep kids away from any surge protectors.
  • Keep electrical cords out of reach by wrapping them up in a cord shortener.

Kitchen Safety Items

  • Installing an oven lock and stove knob cover is highly recommended to maintain kitchen safety. We also suggest using the back burners whenever possible to keep heat as far as possible from a child’s reach.
  • Consider adding an anti-scald device to the kitchen faucet to keep the water temperature low enough to prevent potential burns while keeping the water heater high enough to prevent bacteria. We recommend setting it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Kitchen trash containers should have a child-resistant cover to keep kids away from dangerous discarded items like spoiled food, batteries, etc.
  • Move cleaning products like bleach and detergents to high shelves and install drawer locks to keep kids out.
  • Make sure to move tables with sharp corners or wrought iron away from where they may hurt a child. You can also use corner guards to protect kids from sharp edges.

When it comes to creating a safe, childproof home, there is a lot to know. That’s why we’re happy to provide our recommendations whenever we can. For more home safety tips for kids, contact Children’s Wellness Center today. You can also visit our website patient portal under “Patient Info” for more helpful info and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more news, updates and details on all of our upcoming meet and greet events.

Car Seat Recommendations to Help Keep Kids Safe

March 16, 2017

Car Seat Recommendations to Help Keep Kids SafeEvery year in America, thousands of young children are involved in dangerous car accidents. A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control reported that, in one year, over 618,000 American children between ages 0 – 12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety car seat or even a seat belt at least some of the time. This is unacceptable, especially considering the amount of effective, dependable car seats that are on the market today. A study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, showed young children in car seats are 43% safer when the car seat is placed in the middle rear seat.

Finding the right car seat for your child is crucial for helping them avoid injuries in the case of an accident. The type of seat your child requires for optimal safety depends on a number of factors including the age and size of your child. Parents should always look at the height and weight recommendations of a specific car seat before purchasing. To help keep parents from getting overwhelmed, we have prepared a little guide (based on American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations) to help choose the appropriate car seat for your kids.

Rear-Facing Car Seats

  • Generally small with carrying handles.
  • Should be only used during travel in car, not for resting or feeding in the house.
  • Kids should be in a rear-facing seat until at least age 2 and should stay rear-facing as long as they can after that point.
  • Toddlers are up to 5 times safer if they remain rear-facing until age 2.
  • Just remember even though your toddler may protest and complain about being rear-facing, safety should always be our first consideration.
  • 2 kinds of rear-facing car seats:

1.) Rear-facing–only seats

  • Recommended for infants up to 22 to 40 pounds, depending on the model.
  • Are small and have carrying handles.
  • Usually attaches a base that is left in the car.

2.) Convertible seats (used rear facing)

  • If your child has reached the height or weight limit of their rear-facing-only seat before age 2, they should transition to a rear-facing convertible seat.
  • Seats that can be positioned to face the rear, but can also be adjusted to forward-facing for kids as they outgrow the height and weight of a rear-facing seat.
  • They are typically bulkier than infant seats and do not come with carrying handles or separate bases.
  • Most convertible car seats have rear-facing limits of 35- 40 pounds and should easily fit children until at least age 2.
  • Ideal for larger babies and toddlers.
  • Normally use a 5-point harness that attaches at the shoulders, at the hips, and between the legs to secure the child.

Front-Facing Car Seats

  • Typically includes safety harness straps to securely keep children from escaping.
  • Ideal for kids who have outgrown the weight or height requirements for their rear-facing seat.
  • Typically recommended for kids between the ages of 3 – 7, but kids should remain in a front-facing seat with a harness until they exceed the recommended height and weight as recommended by their specific model.

Booster Seats

  • Help raise children up so the adult seat belt fits them more safely.
  • Recommended for kids who have outgrown front-facing car seats, based on height and weight limits of the seat model, but are not big enough to safely ride with an adult seatbelt yet.
  • Typically used with lap and shoulder seat belts in your vehicle, instead of harness straps.
  • Two forms available: high-back and backless.
  • Regardless of age, kids should be in a booster seat until they weigh at least 40 pounds and are at least 4’9’’.

Seatbelts

  • Recommended for kids age 12 or older.
  • According to the Georgia’s Office of Highway Safety, in order for kids to ride safely with an adult seatbelt, the shoulder belt should rest across the shoulder and chest (not the neck) and the lap belt should rest over the hip and thigh bones.
  • If kids do not meet these size requirements, they should be in booster seats.
  • Seatbelts are always recommended (and required by law in Georgia) once kids graduate from a booster seat (not just after age 12)

Remember that car seats should always be placed in the back seat of your vehicle. One of the most important jobs of any parent is keeping their child safe while riding in a vehicle. That begins with finding the car seat that will keep your child safe, secure, and comfortable. Remember to change car seats as your children age and grow. For more information on car safety, contact Children’s Wellness Center today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more news, tips, updates and upcoming Meet & Greet events.

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