The worldwide movement that became Safe Kids started in 1987 at the National Children’s Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Safe Kids Spokane - administered by Sacred Heart Children's Hospital since March, 2012 - began more than a decade ago, joining a global network of organizations with a mission of preventing unintentional childhood injury, a leading cause of death and disability for children ages 14 and under.
Check this page often for child safety tips, news alerts and upcoming Safe Kids Spokane events.
Babies and young kids can sometimes sleep so peacefully that we forget they are even there. It can also be tempting to leave a baby alone in a car while we quickly run into the store.
The problem is that leaving a child alone in a car can lead to serious injury or death from heatstroke. Young children are particularly at risk, as their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. These tragedies are completely preventable. Here’s how we can all work together to keep kids safe from heatstroke.
Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle.
Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT.
- Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in on their own.
- Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
- Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.
Life jackets Float. Do You?
This award-winning video addresses what you always hear - and tell your kids: "Wear a life jacket, wear a lifejacket!" But, is it really that big a deal? The answer to this question is both entertaining and eye opening as we discover the many challenges moving water presents. Vertical currents, holes, strainers, foot entrapment, cold water...these are hazards that the ever changing river throws at us.
Great viewing, and a great reminder for kids ... and parents!
Child Passenger Safety - 4 Basic Steps
Did you know Washington State has two occupant protection laws? Know and follow these guidelines, or you could risk a ticket of $124!
The Child Restraint Law:
- Children under 13 years old must travel in the back seat when practical.
- All car seats and booster seats must be used correctly according to the car seat AND vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.
- Children who are under 8 years of age or under 4' 9" are required to remain in a child restraint. When your child reaches 4' 9" they may try the adult safety belt.
- If it does not fit correctly they must remain in a child restraint.
The Seat Belt Law:
- All vehicle occupants must be properly restrained in all seating positions.
- The driver is responsible for properly securing all children under the age of 16.
- Passengers 16 years of age and older are responsible for themselves. They may receive their own citation if they are not properly restrained.
- Buckling one seat belt around two people or placing the seat belt under the arm or behind the back is dangerous, can cause death or serious injury, and is a violation of the law.
Don’t worry - we've got your back (seat!); just follow these tips:
- Rear-Facing Seats: Always buckle children in the back seat. Toddlers are five times safer riding rearfacing than forward-facing into their second year of life. Put harnesses through the slots so they are even with or below the child's shoulders.
- Forward-Facing Seats: When children outgrow their rear-facing seat they can move into a forward-facing seat, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat. Put harnesses through the slots so they are even with or above the child’s shoulders.
- Booster Seats: When children outgrow their forward-facing seat they can move into a booster seat, in the back seat, until the vehicle’s seat belts fit properly. Booster seats MUST always be used with a lap and shoulder belt.
- Seat Belts: When a child reaches age 8 or 4'9 they may be able to use the car’s seat belt system. Take this 5-step quiz to see if your child is ready for a seat belt:
- Does the child sit all the way back against the auto seat?
- Do the child's knees bend comfortably at the edge of the auto seat?
- Does the lap belt stay on the top part of the thighs?
- Is the shoulder belt centered on the chest and shoulder?
- Can the child stay seated like this for the whole trip?
Get more child car seat safety tips:
Keeping Kids Safe around Lawnmowers
The lawn mower is one of the most dangerous tools around the home. Hospitals and emergency rooms treat more than 70,000 injuries related to lawn mowers (hand, powered and riding machines, included) each year.
An even more frightening statistic: more than 9,000 of the people hurt were under 18 years old.
Lawn mower injuries include deep cuts, loss of fingers and toes, broken and dislocated bones, burns, and eye and other injuries. Some injuries are very serious. Both users of mowers and those who are nearby can be hurt.
To prevent lawn mower injuries to children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following:
- Use a mower with a control that stops the mower blade, and the machine from moving forward if the handle is let go.
- Do not allow children to ride as passengers on ride-on mowers.
- Children younger than 16 years should not be allowed to use ride-on mowers. Children younger than 12 years should not use walk-behind mowers.
- Make sure that children are indoors or at a safe distance well away from the area that you plan to mow.
- Make sure that sturdy shoes (not sandals or sneakers) are worn while mowing.
- Prevent injuries from flying objects, such as stones or toys, by picking up objects from the lawn before mowing begins. Use a collection bag for grass clippings or a plate that covers the opening where cut grass is released.
- Have anyone who uses a mower wear hearing and eye protection.
- Start and refuel mowers outdoors, not in a garage or shed. Mowers should be refueled with the motor turned off and cool.
- Make sure that blade settings (to set the wheel height or dislodge debris) are done by an adult, with the mower off and the spark plug removed or disconnected.
- Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary, and carefully look for children behind you when you mow in reverse.
- Always turn off the mower and wait for the blades to stop completely before removing the grass catcher, unclogging the discharge chute, or crossing gravel paths, roads, or other areas.
Is Your Child’s Playground Safe?
Home, school and neighborhood playgrounds are a great place for kids to get exercise and socialize with other children.
But they can be dangerous places, too. Each year, around 480,000 injuries occurred at playgrounds.
That’s why parents should inspect all playgrounds used by their children, including playgrounds in their own yards, to make sure they are as safe as possible.
Here are a few guidelines to follow:
- Keep debris such as rocks, roots or garbage away from the play area.
- Look for broken, missing or loose guards, hand rails, steps and ladder rungs. Make sure any platforms or walkways have barriers (like a guard rail) to prevent falls.
- Check for splinters or rotten wood, cracked plastic, rust, missing or damaged supports, anchors or footings, and other signs of deterioration.
- No more than two swing seats should be suspended from a swing structure.
- There should be plenty of soft material under and around play equipment— hardwood chips, mulch, pea gravel and sand are good options —and it should be at least 9 inches deep. Inspect for tree roots or rocks that could cause a child to trip
- Allow plenty of space between play equipment.
- Be aware that a child can get his or her head stuck in a space as small as 3½ inches.
- Make sure your kids know not to stand behind, or in front of another child who is swinging.
Portable Pools Pose Drowning Risk for Young Kids
Not even shallow wading pools are safe, experts say
healthfinder.gov—Portable swimming pools, including the increasingly popular inflatable models, pose serious risks to young children, experts warn.
In a new study, investigators at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, detail the drowning deaths of more than 200 children under 12 years old linked to a variety of above-ground pools, some large and deep, others small and shallow.
"About every five days a child drowns in a portable pool in the US," said lead researcher Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the hospital's Center for Injury Research and Policy.
Because these pools are inexpensive and easy to assemble, many parents may not consider them as big a risk as in-ground pools, he said. The greatest risks are for children younger than 5 years, the researchers found. The report, published in the June 20 online edition of Pediatrics, highlights the need for safety precautions around all pools, safety advocates said.
For the study, Smith's team used 2001-2009 data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. During this period, the researchers identified 209 drowning deaths and 35 near-drownings in children under 12. They found that 94 percent of the children were under 5 and most (56 percent) were boys. In addition, about three-quarters of the deaths took place in the child's own yard, usually during the summer.
More than 40 percent of the drownings occurred when the child was being supervised; 39 percent happened with no adult supervision; and 18 percent were blamed on a lapse of supervision. About 40 percent of the drownings happened in a shallow wading pool.
"That's 18 inches or less of water," Smith said. "Children can drown in very small amounts of water. It only takes a couple of inches and a few minutes."
While a variety of safety measures such as alarms and fencing are available for in-ground pools, Smith said, this is not the case for portable pools. The researchers call for industry development of affordable fencing and reliable pool alarms and covers for portable pools.
Many techniques used to deny access to in-ground pools, such as fencing, cost more than a portable pool itself, he said. "We have to come up with other strategies that are affordable and effective for portable pools."
Experts said the study also raises concerns about pool ladders. "Most of the kids got into the pool using a ladder that was provided with the pool," Smith said. He suggests removing the pool ladder when no one is bathing and storing it where children can't get to it. Parents who have wading pools should empty them when not in use.
In addition to actively supervising children when they are in or around water (including pools, ponds and bathtubs), parents are advised to:
- Erect fencing at least four feet high with a self-latching gate and keep it locked at all times unless an adult is present.
- Watch children in or near the water at all times, and not socialize, read or sleep.
- Learn to swim and provide swimming lessons to their children from an early age.
- Know how to respond to an emergency: how to use rescue equipment, call 911 and perform CPR.
Slip Into Snow Sports
Winter was made for fun in the snow. Whether you're heading for the mountain to ski or just taking your sled to the hill, you can enjoy a great day out and get some exercise at the same time.
If you're just starting out, make sure to learn about your chosen sport and the risks involved. When it comes to snow-sport safety, “Our main concern is head trauma,” says Chris Rocholl, MD, Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital. “Kids who ski or toboggan through trees are at risk for a concussion.”
Skiers and snowboarders should opt for helmets to stay safe. The rest of your winter sports outfit should include many layers, gloves or mittens and a hat so you can stay warm no matter which of these sports you take part in:
- Alpine skiing - Downhill skiing works your leg muscles, so it's a good idea to get in shape before you ski. Observe the rules of the slopes and know when to yield to oncoming skiers.
- Cross-country skiing - The total body workout of cross county skiing burns an average of 650 calories per hour. Before you put on your skis (longer and narrower than the alpine version), make sure to stretch your arms and legs.
- Snowboarding - The number of snowboarders is climbing; now 5.6 million people cruise the slopes. Wrist injuries are the most common snowboarding risk, so consider wrist guards. If you're just starting out, get a lesson with a qualified instructor at the ski area.
- Sledding - While you may view sledding as a child's pastime, this fun trip outside can also raise adult heart rates. Walking back up a hill is great exercise, and you get the reward of a sled run - plus a great time with your family or friends.
- Snow Toys - Exciting snow toys let anyone have a good time on the slopes. Many ski mountains offer snow tubing—it's like sledding with a lift. Some mountains rent snow bikes and scooters that can put you on the slopes in new ways.
Don't Toy With Safety:
Naturally, you want your children to have a safe play environment with safe toys. Did you know that in 2009, there were an estimated 181,900 toy-related injuries? And that children under 5 accounted for nearly half of these injuries?
Do your children like small play balls and balloons? These kinds of toys account for many choking deaths. Do your children like riding toys – unpowered scooters or tricycles? They are associated with more injuries than any other toy group; in fact half of the toy-related injuries treated in emergency rooms were caused by unpowered riding toys. In addition to other hazards, any electrical toy is a potential burn hazard.
Make sure your children play safely by following some simple safety tips.
Top Toy Safety Tips:
- Be sure your children play with toys that are age-appropriate. Read the warning labels before buying toys for your children.
- Look for well-made toys.
- Check toys regularly for damage that could create hazards. Repair or discard damaged toys immediately.
- Make sure that discarded toys are out of children’s reach.
- Watch your children while they play. Be aware of potential dangers like small parts, cords and strings, moving parts, electrical or battery-powered cords or wheels.
- Do not allow riding toys near stairs, traffic or swimming pools.
- Teach children to put toys away after playing. Toys intended for younger children should be stored separately from those suitable for older children.
- Make sure toy chests are open (no lid) or have safety hinges.
For more tips and information, visit www.safekids.org.
Carbon Monoxide - The Silent Killer
Creeping silently through your home, there's a killer that gives no warning. This killer is carbon monoxide. An invisible and odorless gas, carbon monoxide (CO) is produced when burning any fuel, such as gasoline, propane, natural gas, oil, wood, or charcoal. It is a silent killer, which causes illness by decreasing the amount of oxygen present in the body.
Young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide, because of their smaller bodies. Children process carbon monoxide differently than adults, may be more severely affected by it, and may show symptoms sooner.
You won't know that you have a carbon monoxide leak, without a working detector. If you burn any fuels for heat or cooking, be sure that you have a working carbon monoxide detector and deter this silent killer.
Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- The most common symptoms include headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and confusion. In severe cases,the person may lose consciousness or die.
- CO poisoning can often be mistaken for other illnesses, such as the flu.
- Often, more than one person in the household will suffer symptoms at the same time.
To decrease risk of CO poisoning:
- Install a CO alarm outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home.
- Place CO alarms at least 15 feet away from every fuel-burning appliance to reduce the number of nuisance alarms.
- Test alarms every month and replace them every five years.
- Make sure alarms can be heard when you test them and practice an escape plan with your entire family.
- Have all gas, oil or coal burning appliances inspected by a technician every year to ensure they are working correctly and are properly ventilated.
- Never use a stove for heating.
- Do not use a grill, generator or camping stove inside your home, garage or near a window.
- Never leave a car, SUV, or motorcycle engine running inside a garage, even if the garage door is open.
- CO can accumulate anywhere in or around your boat, so install a CO alarm on your motorboat.
If your CO alarm goes off, follow these steps:
- Get everyone out of the house as quickly as possible into fresh air. Then call for help from a neighbor’s home or a cell phone outside of your home.
- If someone is experiencing CO poisoning symptoms, call 911 for medical attention.
- If no one is experiencing symptoms, call the fire department. They will let you know when it is safe to re-enter your home.