drowning

Drowning isn’t obvious. Here’s how to spot someone in trouble.

Many of us assume we know what it looks like when a person is drowning: Waving hands, splashing water and shouts for help.

Unfortunately, drowning isn’t nearly that obvious. One of the most alarming things about drowning is that unlike its depiction in Hollywood, it’s a deceptively quiet event.

Every day in the U.S., about 10 people die from drowning. Among children 15 and under, it is the No. 2 leading cause of deaths (just behind car accidents). And for every child who dies from drowning, there are five others who require emergency room care or hospitalization.

Although it may be difficult to identify someone who is drowning, there are common behaviors that might indicate something is wrong. The behaviors are known as the instinctive drowning response. That term was coined by Francesco A. Pia, PhD, a lifeguard and internationally recognized expert in drowning prevention. Here’s what Pia says a drowning person might look like:

  1. They’re quiet. Struggling to breathe makes it almost impossible to call for help. They may also be bobbing up and down as their mouth goes above and below the water line.
  2. They won’t be waving for help. In fact, the body’s natural response is to extend the arms laterally, allowing the person to push down and lift their head above water.
  3. They’ll be upright in the water. People who are drowning will not kick their legs and will appear relatively still. Their bodies will appear to be straight up and down in the water.

When a person is drowning, they’ll only be above water for between 20-60 seconds total. That’s why recognizing the more subtle signs of someone in distress can mean the difference between life and death.


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water safety tips

8 tips to keep kids safe around water

Before you head to the pool or lake this summer, be sure safety is on your mind, especially when children are around.

Among children age 15 and under, drowning is the No. 2 leading cause of death. Whenever children are near water, follow these safety rules:

1. Be aware of small bodies of water

This includes bathtubs, fishponds, ditches, fountains, watering cans – even the bucket you use when you wash the car. Children are drawn to things like these and need constant supervision to be sure they don’t fall in. Make sure you empty containers of water when you’re done using them.

2. Keep a watchful eye

Children who are swimming – even in a shallow toddler’s pool – should always be watched by an adult, preferably one who knows CPR. Be within arm’s length, providing “touch supervision” whenever infants, toddlers or young children are in or around water. Empty and put away inflatable pools after each play session.

3. Enforce safety rules

No running near the pool and no pushing others underwater.

4. Don’t forget life jackets

A life jacket fits properly if you can’t lift it over a child’s head after it’s been fastened. For children younger than 5, particularly non-swimmers, life jackets should have a flotation collar to keep the head upright and the face out of the water.

Don’t allow your child to use inflatable toys or mattresses in place of a life jacket. These toys may deflate suddenly, or your child may slip off into water that is too deep.

5. Safety in the backyard

Backyard swimming pools (including large, inflatable above-ground pools) should be completely surrounded by a fence that keeps children out without adult supervision. Keep toys out of the pool area when not in use so children are not tempted to enter without supervision.

If your pool has a cover, remove it completely before children go swimming. Also, never allow children to walk on the pool cover.

6. Avoid hot tubs

Spas and hot tubs are dangerous for young children, who can easily drown or become overheated in them.

7. Adults, stay away from alcohol

Don’t drink alcohol when you are swimming or supervising. It presents a danger for you as well as for any children you might be supervising.

8. Eliminate distractions

Talking on the phone, working on the computer and other tasks need to wait until children are out of the water.


Next steps:

  • When someone is drowning, it often goes unnoticed. No splashing. No waving. No yelling for help. Visit the blog tomorrow to find out how you can identify someone who’s drowning and what you can do to help.
  • Before you head outside to enjoy the summertime sunshine, be sure to protect your eyes with tips from our eye care expert. 
sports-related injuries

5 tips to prevent sports-related injuries in kids

Warmer weather is here and the spring sports season is just around the corner. Now’s the time to make sure your kids take the right precautions to avoid sports-related injuries.

In 2013, more than 1 million children ages 19 and under were seen in emergency departments for injuries related to 14 commonly played sports. Here are some tips to help you and your kids prevent injury:

1. Get a physical

Before playing organized sports, make sure your child receives a pre-participation physical exam, or PPE. This should be performed by a doctor or a nurse practitioner or qualified clinician under the supervision of a physician.

2. Stay hydrated

Bring a water bottle to practice and games. Encourage children to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after play.

3. Stretch

Stretching before practice and games can release muscle tension and help prevent sports-related injuries, such as muscle tears or sprains. Make sure there is time set aside before every practice and game for athletes to warm up properly.

4. Take time off

Encourage kids to take time off from one sport to prevent overuse injuries. It is an opportunity to get stronger and develop skills learned in another sport.

5. Coaches, know your stuff

It’s also a good idea for coaches to get certified in first aid and CPR, learn the signs and symptoms of a concussion, and help avoid overuse injury by resting players during practices and games.


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Prevent medication poisoning in your home with these simple steps

To children, medication around the house might look like candy waiting to be consumed. That’s part of the reason why medicine is the leading cause of child poisoning in the U.S.

Every year, nearly 60,000 children are seen in the emergency room for medicine poisoning. Here are a few simple steps you can take to prevent medicine-related poisoning in your home.

Top tips for medication safety

  1. Put all medicine up, away and out of sight. In 86 percent of emergency department visits for medicine poisoning, children took medicine belonging to a parent or grandparent.
  2. Consider unlikely places where medicine is kept. Children can get access to medication in many places, some of which you might not consider, such as purses and nightstands. Place purses and bags in high locations and avoid leaving medicine on a nightstand or dresser.
  3. Consider products you might not think about as medicine. Health products such as vitamins, diaper rash creams, eye drops and hand sanitizer can be harmful if kids ingest them. Store these items up, away and out of sight, just as you would traditional medicine.
  4. Only use the dosing device that comes with the medicine. Kitchen spoons aren’t all the same, and a teaspoon or tablespoon used for cooking won’t measure the same amount of medicine as a dosing device.
  5. Write clear instructions for caregivers. When other caregivers are giving your child medicine, they need to know what medicine to give, how much to give and when to give it. Be clear and detailed in your instructions for caregivers.
  6. Save the Poison Help line in your phone: 800-222-1222. Put the toll-free number for the Poison Control Center into your home and cellphone. You should also put the number on your refrigerator or another place in your home where babysitters and caregivers can see it. Call the help line with any questions or concerns about medication. The Poison Help line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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6 tips to poison-proof your home

It’s not uncommon for kids to get their hands on potentially dangerous stuff around the house. From makeup and personal care products to pesticides and art supplies, many common household items represent a threat to children, especially if they’re ingested. In fact, nine out of 10 poisonings in children occur in the home.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week and the perfect time to learn how you can poison-proof your home and prevent accidental poisonings.

Poison-proof your home

  1. Store all household products and cleaning solutions out of children’s sight and reach. Young kids are often eye-level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  2. Store poisonous items out of reach or use safety locks on cabinets within reach. These items also include liquid packets for the laundry and dishwasher.
  3. Read product labels to find out what can be hazardous to kids. Dangerous household items include health and beauty products, plants, cleaning and gardening supplies, lead, alcohol, and carbon monoxide.
  4. Make sure that all medications, including vitamins and adult medicines, are stored out of reach and out of sight for children.
  5. Put the toll-free number Poison Help Number (800-222-1222) in your home and cellphones. You should also post it near your home phone or on your refrigerator for the babysitter.
  6. Check for lead-based paint. Remove any peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.

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12 tips for a fun, safe Halloween

12 tips for a fun, safe Halloween

Twice as many children are killed or injured while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year. But Halloween doesn’t have to be the scariest night of the year for parents, kids or drivers.

Here are Safe Kids Fayette County’s top tips to help make this year’s Halloween fun and safe.

For parents and kids:

1. Emphasize safe pedestrian behaviors to kids before they go trick-or-treating.
2. Cross the street safely at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Walk, don’t run, across the street.
3. Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct  routes with the fewest street crossings.
4. 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.
5. Costumes can be both creative and safe. Decorate your children’s costumes with reflective materials and, if possible, choose light colors that can be seen in the dark. Masks can obstruct a child’s vision, so choose nontoxic face paint, makeup and wigs instead.
6. Carry flashlights or glow sticks. These will help trick-or-treaters see and be seen by drivers.
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.

Top tips for Halloween safety

For drivers:

8. Slow down in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
9. Be sure to turn your full headlights on between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., the most popular trick-or- treating hours.
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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Back-to-school safety basics

Back-to-school safety basics

Kids across Kentucky are heading back to the classroom this week. From backpacks to buses, here’s what you need to know to keep the little ones in your life safe and happy as they return to school.

School bus safety

School buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children to and from school, but injuries can occur if kids are not careful when getting on and off the bus.

Tell your children to:

  • Stand at least three giant steps from the curb while waiting for the bus.
  • Use the handrails while boarding and exiting the bus.
  • Be careful of straps or drawstrings that could get caught in the door.
  • Instead of standing up or moving, tell the bus driver if they drop something.
  • After exiting the bus, take five giant steps in front of the bus and make eye contact with the bus driver before crossing the street.

For drivers, remember to:

  • Follow speed limits and slow down in bus loading/unloading areas.
  • Stay alert for kids walking to and from buses.
  • Stop when driving near a bus that is flashing yellow or red lights.

Backpack safety

When used incorrectly, backpacks can injure your child’s muscles and joints, which can lead to severe pain and other problems. When selecting a backpack, look for the following features:

  • Two wide, padded shoulder straps. A single strap does not distribute weight evenly.
  • Lighter bags decrease the total load weight on the back.
  • Rolling backpack. A good choice for students who must tote a heavy load.

Here are some other tips to help prevent injury:

  • Always use both shoulder straps to distribute weight evenly and decrease muscle strain.
  • Tighten the straps so that the pack is close to the body and two inches above the waist.
  • Pack light. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of the student’s total body weight.
  • Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back.
  • Use school lockers to store books between classes.
  • Bend using both knees. Do not bend over at the waist when wearing or lifting a heavy backpack.

Pedestrian safety, especially for older kids

Did you know that pedestrian death and injury rate among older children and teenagers is now twice that of younger children? Unsurprisingly, that increase is believed to be related to distractions caused by the use of cellphones and other electronic devices.

To prevent accidents and injuries, tell your children to avoid these dangerous behaviors while walking:

  • Talking on the phone.
  • Texting.
  • Playing handheld gaming devices.
  • Using ear buds or headphones.

Other tips for pedestrians:

  • Always stay alert and be aware of your surroundings.
  • Remind children of all ages the basics of pedestrian safety:
    • Cross only at crosswalks and obey traffic signals.
    • Look both ways and listen, before stepping off the curb.
    • Walk, don’t run while crossing the street.

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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 health care provider when there is a head injury.


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Dr. Sean Skinner teaches surgery basics to first-graders

My experience teaching surgery to first-graders

Written by Dr. Sean Skinner, pediatric surgeon at Kentucky Children’s Hospital.

Dr. Sean Skinner

Dr. Sean Skinner

Not many first-grade science curriculums include hands-on surgical training, but that’s exactly the lesson I taught to my daughter’s class earlier this year.

As a pediatric surgeon, I had the opportunity to talk with my daughter and her first-grade peers at Sayre School in Lexington as part of a larger lesson about machines in workplaces. When she mentioned to her teacher, Mrs. Angela Hardin,  that I “worked with machines and robots at the hospital,” Mrs. Hardin offered me the opportunity to share my experiences with the class.

What followed was an exploration of surgery seen through the eyes of first-graders. I showed them the tools I use on a daily basis and fit them for surgical masks. I then explained to them that laparoscopy is a kind of surgery where we make very small cuts and perform the procedure with the assistance of a small camera that goes inside of a person’s body.

With the basics out of the way, the real fun started. The kids got to try their hands at the same laparoscopic training machines we use at the hospital. Using surgical tools attached to a camera and monitor, they performed a short drill of picking up beads from one cup and moving them to another. It didn’t take long for them to realize just how hard it is to use the instruments while watching a monitor at the same time.

I had a blast seeing how excited the kids were to use the simulators and answering all of their questions about surgery and being a doctor.

Pediatric surgery is no doubt a complicated subject for first-graders, but I think it’s important for children to learn about as many different careers as possible. Through activities like the one at my daughter’s school, kids are able to see what their parents and what other parents do.

I think it would be great to do this type of presentation and hands-on learning activity with more classrooms in Lexington and bring it to different age groups. The more topics children are exposed to at a young age, the better.

Of course, I think learning about science is important for all students and doing so at an early age could spur their interest in science and medicine going forward.

And who knows, maybe an activity like this could spark the next great scientist of the future.


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Fireworks safety tips from UK HealthCare

Dazzling or dangerous? Here’s what you need to know about fireworks safety

Thousands of children and adolescents in the U.S. are injured in firework-related accidents every year during fireworks season, which starts now and runs through the middle of July.

In fact, in 2014, more than 3,000 children and young adults under the age of 20 in the U.S. were taken to emergency rooms with injuries related to fireworks.

Before you and your family head outside to enjoy the Fourth of July and other summer festivities, check out our tips for staying safe around fireworks.

  • Leave it to the professionals. Instead of setting off fireworks at home, attend a public fireworks display. You’ll be out of harm’s way and still be able to enjoy the show.
  • If you are using fireworks at home, take precautions. Never let children play with or light fireworks, and always read all warning labels before use.
  • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks. And be sure to stand several feet away from lit fireworks.
  • Have an extinguisher nearby. A bucket of water, hose or fire extinguisher will work.
  • Don’t try to relight a firework that hasn’t worked properly. Instead, put it out with water and get rid of it.
  • Be careful with sparklers. Sparklers heat up to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and present a real health risk especially for small children. Instead of sparkers, let your little ones use glow sticks – they’ll have fun and stay safe, too.
  • Be prepared for an emergency. Have a phone nearby in case you need to call 911, and teach children what to do if their clothing catches fire (stop, drop and roll). In the case of an eye injury, avoid touching or rubbing it, which can make the injury worse, and get help immediately.

Next steps:

  • Check out our grilling safety guidelines before you fire up the BBQ this weekend.
  • For more information about fireworks safety and burn prevention, contact Safe Kids Fayette County at 859-323-1153.