December 29, 2017 3:21 pm
New Year’s Eve is almost here, and it’s a night of fun and celebration for people all across the world. But it’s also a night that brings safety risks for kids and adults alike. To help your family enjoy a safe, fun, and memorable New Year’s Eve, try these safety tips from our board-certified pediatricians and nurse practitioner at Children’s Wellness Center:
- Fireworks are a popular way to celebrate the stroke of midnight. It’s best to leave this to the professionals and attend an organized display where you can watch from a distance. But if you do decide to set off your own fireworks, it should only be done by a responsible, experienced, sober adult while children and others are a safe distance away.
- Do not celebrate by firing gunshots into the air. The bullets can come down with plenty of force to do serious damage, and this has even caused fatal injuries.
- You already know not to drink and drive (especially if you will have your kids with you), but New Year’s Eve is a high risk night for drunk drivers. If you’re going out to celebrate, drive with extra caution and keep away from drivers who are driving suspiciously. As always, use car seat safety
- If you’re hosting a party, try these additional tips to keep your guests and your own kids safe:
- Keep hot foods and hot liquids away from the edges of counters and tabletops so kids can’t knock them over.
- If you will be offering alcohol, make sure it’s in a place where kids can’t reach it.
- Think about the ages of all the kids who will be at your party and make sure your home is childproofed
- Depending on the number of people at the party, make sure there is at least one sober adult available in case they would need to drive in an emergency. If you have kids present, make sure you and the other adults don’t become too intoxicated to supervise them.
- Make sure all of your guests who will be drinking alcohol either have a ride home or are able to stay at your house until the next day.
- If your children are celebrating the holiday with friends, here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Set a reasonable curfew. If your kids want to stay at a friend’s house past midnight, it may be best to see if they can stay with their friend. It’s easy for teen drivers to get distracted if they’re tired, and you also want to protect them from drunk drivers they may share the road with.
- Encourage your kids to stay in one place rather than party-hopping.
- If your kids will be at a friend’s house, make sure that friend will have a responsible parent at home during the entire party.
- Some people have fun with “fire salts,” which are thrown onto wood fires in fireplaces to create colorful flames. Keep fire salts in a place where kids can’t reach them, because they are dangerous when swallowed.
- If you’re looking for extra fuel for your fireplace, don’t use wrapping paper from your holiday gift-giving. It can ignite very suddenly and intensely, allowing the fire to get out of control.
- If you plan to go to the Peach Drop or another large celebration, keep hold of your child’s hand and be mindful of your surroundings.
Much of keeping your kids safe on New Year’s Eve and beyond is just planning ahead and making responsible decisions. The tips above can help you set your family on the path to a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve. From our Children’s Wellness Center family to yours, have a wonderful New Year in 2018!
November 27, 2017 6:12 pm
Thanksgiving is already here, and the rest of the holiday season is fast approaching. For many families, the holidays involve some amount of travel, whether it’s a cross-country flight or a two-hour drive. As much fun as the holidays can be, traveling does have some safety risks. To have a safe and fun holiday season with your kids, our pediatricians and nurse practitioners at Children’s Wellness Center have some helpful tips:
Car Safety Tips
If you’re driving to your destination, these steps can help you and your kids stay safe:
- Use a vehicle that has enough seats for everyone. That means all children under age 13 should have a back seat that can accommodate whichever safety device they need.
- Make sure to follow all of the appropriate car seat rules. There are a lot of details to remember, so refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics car seat guidelines for kids.
- Some car manufacturers advertise that they use advanced airbags. While these air bags do appear to be safer for adults, their safety for kids has not been evaluated enough. Continue to keep children in the back seat. Even in cars with these advanced air bags.
- If you’re going to a colder climate with winter weather, follow some additional safety precautions:
- Don’t put your baby in a puffy coat underneath their car seat. In a crash, puffy clothing will compress and leave the safety harness dangerously loose. Instead, keep them warm by dressing them in thin layers along with a hat and gloves. For more warmth, you can put a blanket on them (on top of the safety harness).
- If you’re not used to driving in winter weather, look up some tips. Know what to do if you start sliding on ice, how to tell if the roadway is frozen, how to get out if you’re stuck in a snow drift, etc.
- Make an emergency winter safety kit to keep in your car in case you get stuck or stranded. This should include:
- Long-lasting and easy-to-access foods like granola bars
- Bottled water
- An ice scraper and snow brush
- Dry clothing, hats, and gloves
- A center punch (a tool to break the car window in an emergency)
- Remember the rule of thumb to keep your child warm: a child needs one more layer than an adult.
- RVs are popular options for a holiday outing. Make sure to follow some safety precautions, though:
- Use an RV that has a forward-facing seat for every member of the family, and that the seats can accommodate the car seat, booster seat, or other safety equipment your kids need.
- Make sure your RV meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, which means the seat belts have both lap belts and shoulder belts.
- Practice driving the RV before you load up your kids and head for unfamiliar roads. An RV drives differently than your typical passenger vehicle, so it takes time to get used to.
Air Travel Safety Tips
For families traveling by plane this holiday season, follow these tips for a safer trip:
- While it isn’t required to buy a seat for a child who is under 2 years old, the safest option is to buy a seat for your baby and use a safe car seat. Just make sure the car seat is approved for use on an airplane.
- Dress your child in easy-on, easy-off layers. You never know what temperature the plane will be, and you have little control over it. Layers prepare you for every situation, but they also make diaper changes and bathroom trips easier in the cramped plane bathroom.
- If your baby’s ears get uncomfortable, giving them something to suck on during take-off and initial descent can help. You can choose to breastfeed or give them a bottle or pacifier.
- Some kids are bothered by the excess noise on an airplane. For these kids, cotton balls and earplugs may help.
- If you’re renting a car at your destination, call ahead to make sure they can accommodate the safety equipment you need.
No matter how you’re getting to your destination, we have one final tip: find a great pediatrician and hospital near the place you’re staying. You never know when an emergency will arise, and you don’t want to waste valuable time trying to find a doctor in the midst of a stressful situation. To make this less likely, it’s also a good idea to schedule a physical exam for kids before you travel if your kids are due (or nearly due) for their next visit.
July 31, 2017 11:58 am
Worrying about your kids’ safety is just part of being a parent, but there’s one event that really amplifies this stress for most parents – the moment when your teenager starts driving. If that time is on the horizon for your family, don’t panic. Our board-certified pediatricians at Children’s Wellness Center have compiled some helpful tips for both parents and teens to make the early years of driving a safe, educational, and maybe even enjoyable experience.
Tips for Parents
- Go beyond the minimum state requirements for driving practice. Georgia law requires 40 hours of supervised driving experience before teens can get their full driver’s license, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 50 hours.
- Start teaching your teen the basic skills in an easy, low-traffic and low-speed environment first. Then, gradually add in new skills and situations for them to master, like night driving, heavy traffic areas, interstates, etc.
- When looking for a vehicle for your teen driver, midsize or full-size cars with the latest safety measures are ideal. Steer clear of sports cars (which make speeding more tempting) and SUVs. SUVs are easier to roll over than other cars, and these crashes are more likely to cause injuries in children, teens, and adults alike.
- Be a good driving role model (no matter what age your child is) – avoid distractions, obey all traffic laws, and remind yourself to drive in the same way you would want your kids to drive.
- When you’re supervising your teen’s driving, stay calm and avoid yelling out critiques while they’re trying to focus on the road. If they make a mistake, have them pull into a parking lot or other safe place and have a conversation about what they should have done differently.
- Keep a log of your teen’s driving lessons, including the location, time, what skills you working on during each session, how long each session lasts, etc.
- The state of Georgia places restrictions on the number of passengers teens can have in their car, but as a parent, you can feel free to give your teen stricter limitations.
- Give your kids a limit on how far from home they’re allowed to drive, and define specific areas where they’re not allowed to drive by themselves.
- Even if you’ve already discussed underage drinking, make sure your teenager truly understands the importance of not drinking and driving.
- Some teens simply develop the decision-making skills they need later than others, so if you don’t feel that your teenager can safely begin learning to drive, you can have them wait to start the process, even if they’ve met Georgia’s age requirements.
- Communicate to your teen that the restrictions you put on their driving privileges are there for their own safety, and that you both have the same goal: for them to be safe on the road.
- Be careful about having your teen drive their younger siblings around. The Georgia legal restrictions on passengers for young drivers only apply to kids who aren’t in the driver’s immediate family, but siblings can be just as distracting as friends. For instance, it’s probably not a good idea to have your teenager drive four eight-year-olds to their baseball game.
- In their first few months of unsupervised driving, consider giving your teen a driving curfew so that they aren’t driving when it’s too dark or when they’re likely to be tired.
- Establish a parent-teen driving agreement like the one provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics, so that everyone is clear from the beginning about the driving rules.
- Familiarize yourself with the Georgia Graduated License Program. Under these laws, teens start with a learner’s permit, then an intermediate license, and only receive an unrestricted license after age 18.
Tips for Teen Drivers
- Don’t use your phone while your car is not parked (even if you’re stopped at a stoplight). This includes calling, texting, using social media, etc. If you need to use your phone, pull over into a parking lot or other safe area first.
- Be conscious of the weather. Rain, wind, snow, and other issues can strongly impact your ability to drive, so if you’re not comfortable driving in certain weather conditions, ask your parent to supervise.
- Learn how to handle emergency situations that might occur while you’re driving, like what to do if your tire blows out, if your car overheats, if you start to skid, if you get into an accident, etc.
- Before you start a drive, mentally review the route you’ll be taking so that you can focus more on watching the road, not on finding your way or messing with your navigation app.
- Never drive after using alcohol or drugs (including pain pills and certain other prescription medications), and never get in the car with a driver who has been using these substances (whether they’re a teenager or an adult).
- Don’t eat or drink while you’re driving – keep your hands and your mind distraction-free.
- Keep your music at a low enough volume so you can always hear emergency vehicles or other cars’ horns.
- Make sure any passengers in your vehicle are wearing their seatbelts, because you may be held responsible if there’s a crash and someone is hurt.
- Don’t drive when you’re angry, upset, or tired. These can all lead you to be distracted, and drowsy driving is particularly dangerous, so make sure you’re following the right sleep recommendations for teenagers.
- Never pick up hitchhikers, even if you’re concerned for his/her safety.
- Always call your parents if you won’t make it home before your curfew. They might be a little unhappy that you’re coming home late, but they’ll be much more upset if you don’t call, because they’ll be worrying that you’ve been in an accident.
The early driving years can really show the complex relationship between a teen and their parents – the teen is developing a desire for independence, while the parents need to retain some authority to teach their child how to be a responsible adult. But remember, everyone has the same goal for a young driver: to get from point A to point B safely. If you have more questions about your teenager’s health and safety, give us a call or schedule an appointment at Children’s Wellness Center online.
July 3, 2017 6:49 pm
Every family needs to take a break from their daily hustle and bustle every once in a while, and everyone does this in a different way. For some families, camping can be an enjoyable and refreshing way to spend a vacation. But before you hop into your RV or tent, our pediatricians at Children’s Wellness Center have a few tips to help you keep your kids safe and healthy on your family camping trip.
- Take plenty of preparation time to learn about the area where you’re going. If you’re not an experienced camper, try starting with day trips and working your way up to a weekend or a full week.
- Especially during summers in the South, be mindful of the heat. It’s easy for kids to get overheated, so if you plan to enjoy hiking during your trip, plan your hikes in the early morning or evening when the sun is cooler. When the heat is at its peak (10am – 4pm), spend most of your time in the shade. At all times of the day, practice good sun safety for kids.
- Teach your children safety measures in case they get lost on a hike. For example:
- Give them a whistle and teach them the universal signal for help (three blows).
- Teach them how to identify landmarks on the trail. Every so often while you’re hiking, have them turn around and look at the trail they’ve passed, so they’re familiar with their surroundings.
- Tell them that if they get lost, they should stop, stay where they are, and whistle/yell for help.
- Dress kids in brightly colored clothing so they can be spotted easily.
- Pack for all types of weather by wearing layers. Be sure to also pack clothing that protects you against rain and wind, like polyester and lycra instead of cotton. And remember, temperatures can drop significantly at night, even when it’s hot during the day, so make sure you’re prepared with a hat, fleece jacket, or other warm clothing.
- Insect repellent can protect your child from many pests’ bites and stings, but there are special considerations when you’re using it for children. For all the details, check out our blog about how to use insect repellent for kids.
- If you’re in an area where ticks are common, tuck the bottoms of your children’s pants into their socks to help keep the ticks from biting. Even with this extra measure, though, you still need to use insect repellent and to check your child for ticks at the end of each day.
- Be mindful of the animals that live in your camping area. Here are a few tips:
- Before your trip, research the wildlife in the area where you’ll be camping. Learn their habits, how to avoid disturbing their homes, and what to do if you encounter them.
- When you’re looking for a place to make camp, survey the area and look for signs that you could be in a highly-traveled area for animals. For instance, bears may be attracted to areas with a lot of berries. You should also look out for evidence of insect nests in the area.
- Teach your children about the wildlife they may see, and tell them to never approach or try to feed an animal they don’t know.
- If you’ll be enjoying a lake, river, or other body of water during your camping trip, make sure you have adequate life jackets that are approved by the US Coast Guard. These life jackets will be marked, and they’ll be listed as type 1, type 2, type 3, or type 4. Type 1 is the best option, while type 4 provides the least protection. In addition to having life jackets that fit your kids well, be sure to follow our other water safety tips.
- Bring your own bottled water. Natural sources of water are often contaminated, so if your supply runs out and you need to drink from a natural source, have a water filter and/or dissolvable iodine tablets. Teach your children to never drink directly from a natural water source.
- Teach your children what poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac look like, and explain that these plants should not be touched. If your kids do come into contact with one of these plants, wash the area with cool water immediately.
- Explain to your children that even though berries they see in nature might look like the ones you buy from the grocery store, they might be very dangerous, so they should never eat them. Bring plenty of healthy snacks for kids so they’re less tempted.
- Kids are particularly prone to scrapes and bruises, so be sure to bring a well-supplied first aid kit.
- If you’re traveling in an RV, remember that your children should use seat belts and car seats at all times when the RV is moving, just like you would in a passenger vehicle.
In our modern era of technological saturation, camping can feel like a breath of fresh air (quite literally). Just be sure to prepare and educate yourself beforehand in order to make your family’s vacation as safe and enjoyable as it can be. For other pre-camping safety questions or to schedule a well check visit for your child before your vacation, contact Children’s Wellness Center. Plus, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.