car seats

Kids, car seats and bulky coats don’t mix. Here’s why.

If you’re about to buckle your child into his or her car seat, think twice before you zip up that bulky winter coat.

Puffy winter clothes and coats have too much wiggle room, which can cause your child to slip out of the harness should the car stop suddenly.

Here’s how to keep your kids safe in the car, even when it’s freezing outside:

Dress your child in warm, thin materials, such as fleece.

Remove bulky clothing and blankets before putting you child in their car seat.

Adjust the harness straps to the proper height. For rear-facing seats, straps should be at or below the child’s shoulders. For forward-facing seats, straps should be at or above the child’s shoulders.

Buckle and tighten the harness straps. Place the chest clip at armpit level.

Do the “pinch test” by pinching the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, the car seat is safely buckled.

After your child is safely fastened, place a blanket or their winter coat over the car seat harness to keep them warm.


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Bundle up and know the warning signs of hypothermia

It’s cold outside. Really cold. Temperatures this week have hit record lows, and there’s not much relief in the forecast.

This extreme cold causes our bodies to lose heat much faster and can even cause hypothermia, which happens when our body temperature gets below 95 degrees. Hypothermia is a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention. If untreated, it can lead to pneumonia, cardiac arrest or even death.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • The “umbles”: grumbling, mumbling, stumbling or fumbling.
  • Shivering, though shivering also means that a person’s heat regulation systems are still working.
  • Exhaustion, confusion or memory loss. These symptoms will begin gradually.
  • For infants, look for bright red, cold skin and very low energy levels.

What to wear – and do – to stay safe in cold weather:

  • Cover your face and mouth with a warm hat, scarf or mask.
  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting clothing, with a water-resistant coat.
  • Keep your hands and feet warm with mittens or and water-resistant boots.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is a big cause of hypothermia.
  • Always monitor your children. Talk to them about the dangers of cold weather and make sure they’re dressed appropriately.
  • Check on elderly or sick loved ones – it’s often harder for them to stay warm.

How to treat hypothermia:

  • Seek shelter inside immediately. Hypothermia can happen indoors, so pay attention to inside temperatures as well.
  • Remove the person’s wet clothing and cover them with dry, warm clothes or blankets.
  • Monitor the person’s temperature, and offer warm liquids that don’t contain alcohol or caffeine.
  • If a person’s temperature falls below 95 degrees, call 911 and get medical help immediately. If there’s no sign of breathing or a pulse, begin CPR.

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Fire safety tips for the holiday season

Putting out decorations and baking special recipes create wonderful memories during the holiday season, but there’s also a risk. House fires occur more during the winter holidays than at any other time of the year.

Keep your holidays festive and your loved ones safe with these fire safety tips:

  • Pay attention to your Christmas tree. If using a real tree, keep it watered, and keep heat sources at least three feet away. If using a fake tree, make sure that it’s flame retardant. In either case, use a sturdy tree stand that won’t fall over.
  • Be mindful when you decorate. Follow manufacturer’s instructions, and only use flame resistant or flame retardant decorations. Replace broken pieces or loose cords.
  • Unplug decorations when you’re sleeping or away. Keep your tree, lights and other electronic decorations unplugged when you leave the house or go to sleep.
  • Be careful with candles. The incidence of candle fires is highest in December. Never leave flames unattended, and blow out each candle before leaving the room or going to bed. Never use lit candles near your tree.
  • Install smoke alarms. Test them monthly, and put in fresh batteries at least once a year. You should have one in the kitchen, on each level of your home and near sleeping areas.
  • Have your fireplace inspected. The chimney walls may need cleaning. Use a screen to embers from escaping, and only burn seasoned wood – no wrapping paper or other materials.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking or baking. Keep flammable items like pot holders, oven mitts or food packaging away from your stovetop.
  • Always supervise children and pets. Keep them away from candles, matches and lighters, and watch them around other decorations.
  • Clean up after the holidays. Get rid of your tree after Christmas or when it’s dry. Dried-out trees are a fire hazard, so don’t leave them in your garage or outside leaning against your house. Also bring outdoor electrical lights inside to prevent hazards.

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safe-sleep

Kentucky Children’s Hospital is the state’s only Safe Sleep Hospital

Helping babies sleep safely is a priority for all of us at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. That’s why we’re so proud to have been named as Kentucky’s only Cribs for Kids National Gold Certified Safe Sleep Hospital.

This honor recognizes our commitment to reducing infant sleep-related deaths by encouraging safe-sleep practices both in the hospital and after babies go home.

Kentucky has one of the highest rates of sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) in the nation, but at  KCH, we’re working hard to reverse that trend.

Our nurses receive training about safe sleep so that they can educate and model safe-sleep practices for families. In addition, parents and caregivers watch a video about safe sleep prior to their baby’s discharge home and have a discussion with nurses about SUID risk-reduction strategies.

Tips for safe sleep

In honor of our recognition, here are 10 tips to ensure your baby is sleeping safely, courtesy of our friends at Cribs for Kids:

1. Always place your baby alone, on her back and in a crib every time she sleeps.

2. Always use a firm, flat crib mattress covered by a fitted sheet. Car seats and other sitting devices, such as swings, wedges, and devices that position your baby on an incline, are not safe for sleep.

3. Check to make sure that your crib has not been recalled. In addition, cribs with missing hardware should not be used. Do not attempt to fix broken components of a crib, as many infant deaths are associated with cribs that are broken or have missing parts (including those that have presumably been fixed).

4. Share your room, not your bed. Do not share your bed with your children. Bed-sharing puts babies at risk of suffocation, strangulation and SUID. Studies have found that bed-sharing is the most common cause of deaths in babies, especially those 3 months old and younger.

Instead, you may share your room with your child by having a crib in the room, a bassinet or portable crib near your bed, a separate crib attached to your bed, or a similar arrangement.

5. Do not smoke near pregnant women or infants. Your home and your car should both be smoke-free. Eliminate second-hand smoke from all places in which children and other nonsmokers spend time.

6. Do not use bumper pads or similar items that attach to crib slats. There is no evidence that these items prevent injury in young infants, but they do present a risk for for suffocation, entrapment and strangulation.

7. Don’t overheat or overdress your baby. Dress your baby in light sleep clothing. Keep the room at a temperature that is comfortable for an adult (between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit).

8. Breastfeeding is associated with a reduced risk of sleep-related death. If possible, babies should be breastfed for the first six months of their life.

9. Avoid devices that claim to reduce the risk of SIDS. These devices include wedges, positioners, special mattresses and special sleep surfaces. There is no evidence that these devices reduce the risk of SIDS or suffocation or that they are safe.

10. Travel is one of the biggest causes of sleep disturbances for babies. As you pack your bags to travel for holidays, remember to include what you’ll need to ensure a separate, safe sleeping environment for your baby while away from home. If you plan to stay in a hotel, ask in advance if they have cribs available that you can use in your room.


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Ensure a safe holiday season with these toy safety tips

With the holiday season in full swing, many of us are on the search for that perfect gift, but remember, safety should always be the number one priority.

Toys are a fun and important part of your infant or toddler’s development, but each year, many kids are treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. Here are a few toy safety tips to keep in mind:

Check the materials

  • Read labels. Most toys should have a recommended age range, so follow it. All toys should be flame retardant or flame resistant, and dolls and other stuffed toys should be washable and made of hygienic materials.
  • Check hand-me-downs. Older toys might have sentimental value, but make sure that they are both safe and age-appropriate. Toys made before 1978 may have lead paint.
  • Check for choking hazards. Throw away the wrapping and packaging. Beware of small magnets and batteries, which are easily swallowed and cause many health risks. Choking is a particular risk for children under 3.

Check the size, shape and function

  • Give toys the toilet paper roll test. If a toy could fit inside a toilet paper roll, then it’s a choking hazard, and too small for an infant or toddler.
  • Don’t allow toys with strings or cords longer than 12 inches. These are also choking hazards and shouldn’t be used or hung in cribs or playpens.
  • No toys with sharp points or edges, removable parts or loud noises. Excessive noise can be harmful to young ears.

Your role as a parent

  • Supervise your children as they play. Teach your children how to use their toys the right way – this includes putting toys away when playtime is over, which removes tripping hazards.
  • Conduct regular “toy maintenance.” Look for broken parts or other potential hazards. Check outdoor toys for rust or weak spots, and check wooden toys for splinters. Broken toys can expose dangerous points, edges or wires.
  • Enlist the help of older siblings. Young children are curious and might want to play with toys that aren’t age-appropriate, so teach older children to keep their own toys out of reach from their younger siblings.

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holiday travel safety

Hitting the road for the holidays? Keep these 8 safety tips in mind.

Thanksgiving is nearly here, which means the busy holiday travel season between November and January is upon us.

The weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are some of the busiest travel times of the year. With many people on the road, the risk of travel-related accidents also goes up.

Whether you’re hopping on the highway to visit friends in town or driving cross-country to see family, remember to keep safety in mind for each member of your family.

1. Use car seats for babies and toddlers.

Babies under the age of 2 should use rear-facing car seats, while toddlers older than 2 can use forward-facing car seats. Using child safety seats correctly can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.

If it’s cold outside, cover babies and young children with a thick blanket to keep them warm, after they’re strapped securely into their seat. Bulky winter clothes and coats can keep a car seat harness from doing its job.

2. Use booster seats and the backseat for older kids.

Kids who have outgrown a forward-facing harness seat are not ready for a seat belt or front seat yet. They are safest in a booster seat that enables the adult seat belt to fit properly. Even when children have transitioned from booster seats, they should remain in the back seat until they reach the age of 13.

3. Take your time when traveling with kids.

When you hear the all-too-familiar howl from the back seat that means “I want food” or “change my diaper,” don’t worry about making good time. Instead, get off at the next exit and find a safe area to feed or change your child.

4. Share the road – and the wheel.

Map out your route before you leave, making note of any construction zones or closures that could affect your itinerary. Leave earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic, and let your friends and family know when you plan to arrive.

If you’re driving long distances, divvy up driving responsibilities between drivers in your group. If you start to feel tired, pull over and switch with another driver or stop and rest until you’re able to drive safely.

6. Be prepared for bad weather.

Inclement weather can turn even a short road trip into a white-knuckle ride. Before you leave, check the weather forecast and be aware of possible snowy or icy conditions.

Stay off the road during bad weather, if possible. If you have to drive during inclement weather or hit a hazardous stretch during your trip, remember to slow down, increase the distance between you and the car in front of you, and avoid all distractions to keep your focus on the road.

7.  Keep the car stocked.

In case of a travel emergency, make sure your car is stocked with everything you’ll need. This includes a first-aid kit, flashlight, ice scraper, blankets, salt or kitty litter for tire traction, and snacks for everyone in your car.

Make sure cell phones are charged before you depart in case you need to call for help or use your phone’s GPS for directions. And always have a paper map on hand, just in case.

8. More time means less stress.

Giving yourself more than enough time to get to your destination, in case you run into traffic or bad weather. Some stress during the holidays is unavoidable, but a little planning before your trip can help keep the holidays safe and fun.


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Halloween safety

Don’t let real dangers take the fun out of Halloween

Before you head out for trick-or-treating with your little ghouls and goblins, princesses and superheroes, take a few moments to think about – and talk to your kids about – safety. As fun as it is, Halloween is also unfortunately the most dangerous night of the year for children – twice as many kids are killed on Halloween night, usually in pedestrian accidents – as any other day of the year.

A few moments to consider safety will help keep the night fun, not dangerous.

For parents and kids:

1. Check costumes before you leave the house. Decorate your children’s costumes with reflective materials and, if possible, choose light colors that can be seen in the dark. Make sure masks or wigs do not obstruct the child’s vision, and make sure they can walk without tripping or dragging any part of their costume.

2. Carry flashlights or glow sticks. These will help trick-or-treaters see and be seen by drivers.

3. Review safe pedestrian behaviors with kids before heading out.

4. Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks if they’re available. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Walk, don’t run, across the street.

5. Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.

6. Slow down and stay alert. Watch out for cars that are turning or backing up, and never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

7. While pedestrian safety is a main concern on Halloween, parents and kids should also be careful when dealing with candy. Remind children to only eat treats in original and unopened wrappers. It’s best to wait until you get home and can inspect candy under good lighting.

For drivers:

8. Be sure to turn your full headlights on between 6-8 p.m., Lexington and Fayette County’s designated time for trick-or-treating.

9. Slow down in residential neighborhoods and be on the lookout for kids who may dart out unexpectedly. Some may be wearing dark clothing.

10. Be especially alert and take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.

11. Slowly and carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.

12. Reduce any distractions inside your car, such as talking on the phone or eating, so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.


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  • Before your kids leave the house in search of candy, make sure their costumes are as safe as they are spooky. Check out our guide for Halloween costume safety.
  • Happy Halloween from all of us here at UK HealthCare! Have fun and be safe, and remember,  our Makenna David Pediatric Emergency Center is always open in case you need us.

Choosing a safe Halloween costume

October is here, and if you’re like most parents, you’ll soon be putting together your children’s Halloween costumes. When you do, keep these tips in mind:

Think safety

  • Masks can obstruct visibility and make it difficult for your child to breathe. If you can, opt for makeup instead. If your child does wear a mask, make sure his or her vision is not obstructed so much that they might trip or stumble, and encourage him or her to take it off before crossing the street.
  • Make sure makeup or face paint is non-toxic. Read the ingredients to be sure that your child isn’t allergic to anything in the face paint.
  • Never use decorative contact lenses. They can cause eye infections.
  • Buy costumes that are labeled “flame resistant.” Many people and places will have jack-o-lanterns, candles or other decorative flames out – so be careful.
  • Check costume accessories for safety hazards. Knives, swords or other accessories can often be sharp. If your child could hurt themselves by falling on the accessory, skip it or find something else to use!
  • Make sure the costume fits properly. A costume that’s too big or too small is not only uncomfortable, it can cause your child to trip or fall.

Think visibility

  • Choose a light-colored costume if possible. This makes your child more visible to cars and other trick-or-treaters.
  • Kids can get excited during trick-or-treating and forget road safety rules. Put reflective tape on your child’s costume to help drivers spot them on dark streets.
  • Have your child carry a flashlight or glow stick so they’re more visible. Check the batteries on the flashlight to make sure they will last throughout trick-or-treating.

Think comfort

  • Make sure the costume fits properly. A costume that’s too small can be uncomfortable or even restrict breathing. Too big, and it could be a tripping hazard.
  • Oversized shoes might be a funny part of a clown costume, but they can make walking difficult or even unsafe.
  • If your child wears a cape, make sure it’s not too tight and it doesn’t drag the ground!
  • Make sure costume jewelry and other accessories aren’t too tight around your child’s throat.

Be ready for emergencies

  • Give an older child a cell phone in case of emergency.
  • Put a nametag with your phone number on your children’s costumes in case you get separated.

Remember, Halloween should only SEEM scary. A fun, safe night starts with a good costume.


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You should know about the dangers of childhood concussions.

Know the signs of childhood concussions

Does a child in your family play sports? If so, there are things you should know about the risks and dangers of childhood concussions.

Concussions are serious, traumatic brain injuries that get worse each time they happen. A second concussion can even be fatal to anyone not yet recovered from the first, a condition called second impact syndrome (SIS).

Be able to recognize concussion symptoms

It’s important to know the warning signs when you may be dealing with something as serious as brain trauma. A few concussion symptoms include:

  • Headache, vomiting or nausea.
  • Trouble thinking normally.
  • Memory problems.
  • Fatigue and trouble walking.
  • Dizziness and vision problems.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.

These symptoms can occur right away, but may not start for weeks or even months. If your child has any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately.

Don’t forget a helmet

Helmets are a required standard in team sports like football, but even backyard activities like riding a bicycle and skating call for protection.

Keep coaches in the know

If your child is playing team sports and has or may have had a concussion, be sure the coaches know. Continuing to play is not worth the risk of a second concussion, so when in doubt, sit them out.

Know your head injury ABCs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you know your ABCs. That means you will Assess the situation, Be alert for the signs and symptoms, and Contact a healthcare provider when there is a head injury.


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sports injuries in kids

Coaches and parents, help your kids avoid sports injuries this year

For many families across Kentucky, the start of the school year also means the start of the fall sports season.

Almost three out of every four families with school-aged kids have at least one child who plays organized sports. That’s great! Sports provide physical, emotional and social benefits for kids of all ages. But with sports unfortunately also comes the risk of injury.

The good news is, as parents and coaches, there are lots of simple things you can do to prevent injuries and keep kids playing the sports they love.

Use proper equipment

Make sure young athletes are wearing appropriate and well-fitted safety equipment. This includes:

  • Helmets, for sports like football and lacrosse.
  • Mouth guards, which are inexpensive and can help reduce injury to the mouth, teeth, lips, cheeks and tongue.
  • Sunscreen for outdoor sports.
  • Properly fitting shoes or cleats.

Be aware of heat-related illness

Compared to adults, children are at an increased risk of suffering heat-related illness because they have a lower sweating capacity and produce more metabolic heat during physical activities.

  • Kids just getting back into sports shape after a summer off are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness. Keep an eye on those children in particular.
  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of heat illness, which include nausea, dizziness and elevated body temperature.
  • Reduce the risk of heat illness by making sure young athletes stay hydrated. That means drinking water before, during and after all activities.

Avoid overuse

Nearly half of all sports injuries are from overuse or overexertion and can be easily avoided with proper rest.

  • Plan at least one day off per week to allow a child to rest and recuperate.
  • Coaches, rest players during practice and games to avoid overuse.
  • Children who play multiple sports that use the same body part (like swimming and baseball, for example) are at a higher risk of overuse injuries and should be extra careful.
  • Kids should take two to three months off from each sport every year to avoid overuse.

Be smart when it comes to head injuries

Concussions are serious, traumatic brain injuries that get worse each time they happen. It’s important to know the warning signs of something as serious as brain trauma. Concussion symptoms include:

  • Headache, vomiting or nausea.
  • Trouble thinking normally.
  • Memory problems.
  • Fatigue and trouble walking.
  • Dizziness and vision problems.
  • Changes in sleep patterns.

These symptoms can occur right away, but may not start for weeks or even months. If your child or athlete has any of these symptoms, contact a doctor immediately.


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