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.


Next steps:

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.

Next steps:

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.

Next steps:

Halloween safety

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.


Next steps:

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.


Next steps:

water safety

Going to the pool? Keep the kids safe with these tips

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer, and pools everywhere will be opening this weekend.

Swimming and water recreation can be great fun, but they can also be dangerous. So before you and your family hit the water, check out these tips for keeping the kids safe.

Water safety tips to teach your children:

  • Learn how to swim.
  • Always swim with a buddy.
  • If you can’t swim, don’t get in water deeper than your shoulders.
  • Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest when you are playing water sports, when you’re near an open body of water or when you’re on a boat.
  • Never run, push or jump on others around water.
  • If you see someone struggling in the water, shout for help. Don’t try to rescue the person yourself.

Water safety tips for adults to keep in mind:

  • Never leave children alone near water – adults must supervise at all times.
  • Never let children swim alone – no exceptions to this rule, ever.
  • Children in baby bath seats and rings must be within arm’s reach every second.
  • Teach children to swim after age 4.
  • Never substitute a flotation device for supervision.
  • Do not allow children to run, push or jump on others around water.
  • Learn CPR for infants, children and adults.

In case of drowning

According to the CDC, two children 14 and younger in the United States die by drowning every day. And for every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

In a drowning accident, seconds make the difference between survival, recovery or death. Drownings occur when a child is left unattended, even for a brief moment. If a child is missing, always check the water first before looking elsewhere. Wading pools, swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, lakes, rivers, oceans, bathtubs, buckets and even toilets all pose a risk of drowning.

If you see someone struggling in the water:

  • Shout for help immediately.
  • Find something you can throw out to the person to pull him or her to safety, such as a life preserver, rope or towel.
  • If you can’t reach the person, throw out a floating object he or she can hold onto until additional help arrives.
  • Never swim right to the person. He or she is scared and may accidentally hurt you.
  • If no one hears your shout, call 911.

Next steps

lawn mower safety

Mowing the lawn? Keep these safety tips in mind

Even though it’s easy to forget when you’re using it week in and week out, your lawn mower is actually dangerous and potentially deadly piece of equipment.

Each year 20,000 people are injured in the U.S. due to mower-related accidents, and 75 are killed. One in five of those deaths involves a child, and more than 600 children will lose a limb this year as a result of a preventable lawn mower accident. While it’s important to be extremely cautious when cutting your yard, one of the safest things you can do for your family is to keep your children inside while you’re operating a lawn mower. In many cases where children were injured, the adults involved didn’t know they were near the mower when the injuries occurred.

To raise awareness about the dangers lawn mowers pose to children, The Amputee Coalition and Limbs Matter, a group of parents whose children have undergone an amputation because of a lawn mower accident, have partnered on national safety initiatives.

Kids aren’t the only ones at risk from lawn mowers. Here are some personal safety tips to keep in mind:

Wear the right clothing. Avoid shorts or sandals. Long pants will protect your legs and closed-toed shoes protect your feet and provide better traction.

Survey the yard. Before mowing, pick up any sticks, rocks or other debris that could become dangerous projectiles if hit by a mower blade.

Tell somebody. Before you begin mowing, be sure to tell a family member or neighbor that you’re going to be working outside in case an accident happens.

Mow across the slope. If you have to mow a slope, always mow across the slope and never up and down. This removes the risk of the mower rolling back on you.

Don’t mow at night. You should only use your mower in daylight or good artificial light.

Beware the sun. If it’s hot outside, be sure to take frequent breaks and drink plenty of water. Don’t forget the sunscreen.


Next steps:

Learn more about the importance of lawn mower safety by watching the “Limbs Matter” public service announcement.

Tips to poison-proof your home

Tips to poison-proof your home

From misplaced medications to household cleaning items, every house has its fair share of potential dangers for children. In fact, nearly 1.2 million cases of accidental poisoning in children ages 5 and younger are reported each year, with 90 percent of those occurring in the home.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week and a great time to review Safe Kids Fayette County’s tips for keeping your house safe for children. Check out our guidelines below and print this post to hang on your fridge or near your phone.

Store potentially poisonous household products and medications out of children’s sight and reach.

  • Read labels to find out what is poisonous. Potential hazards include makeup, medicine, plants, cleaning products, pesticides, art supplies, and beer, wine and liquor.
  • Never leave potentially poisonous household products unattended while in use.
  • Be aware of poisons that may be in your handbag. Store handbags out of the reach of young children.
  • Never mix cleaning products.
  • Buy child-resistant packages when available. Keep products in their original packages to avoid confusion.

Be safe when taking or administering medication.

  • Always read labels, follow directions and give medicines to children based on their weights and ages. Only use the dispensers packaged with children’s medicines.
  • Do not refer to your medication as candy. Children should not think of prescription or over the counter (OTC) medication as treats.
  • Many parents keep their medications on the kitchen counter, on the nightstand, on the dinner table or in personal bags, such as purses, as a personal reminder to take our pills, but these are all easily accessible areas for children. Instead, write a note to remind yourself so you can keep all medication in a cabinet or area that is up and away from your children’s view and grasp.

Keep the toll-free nationwide poison control center number, 800-222-1222, and local emergency numbers near or programmed into every phone in your house.

  • If you suspect poisoning and a child is choking, collapses, can’t breathe or is having a seizure, call 911. Otherwise, call the poison control hotline and have the ingested product on hand to discuss with the operator.
  • Follow the operator’s instructions.
  • Don’t make the child vomit or give him or her anything unless directed.

 Next steps:

Distractions play a crucial role in car crashes, study says

Chances are you’ve let your mind wander while driving, but that’s more dangerous than you may know. Those little distractions, even if they seem harmless, often result in car accidents, according to a new study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The extensive study, published Feb. 22, assessed footage shot inside more than 3,000 vehicles over three years.  During that time, researchers observed more than 900 crashes, almost three-quarters of them caused by distractions such as texting, changing the radio or looking at a cell phone. The researchers found that drivers were “clearly distracted” in almost 70 percent of observed accidents, and not surprisingly, the findings link cell phone use to many crashes.

You can read more about the study at the NIH, but the takeaway is simple: Distracted driving leads to accidents, no matter what you’re doing or how long you’re distracted.

Understanding your bad driving habits is the first step toward being a safer driver. There are three kinds of distractions while driving: manual, visual and cognitive. Manual distractions take your hands off the wheel, visual distractions take your eyes off the road, and cognitive distractions take your mind off of driving.

Check out these six tips for avoiding distractions.

  • Turn it off. Before you get in the car, turn your cell phone off or switch to silent mode. You can wait, and so can others.
  • Be prepared. Review maps and directions before you get on the road. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to help or pull over to a safe location to review the maps/directions again.
  • Secure pets. Pets can be a big distraction in the car. Always secure your pets properly before you drive.
  • Keep kids safe. Pull over to a safe location to address situations with your children in the car.
  • Stay focused on the task at hand. Refrain from eating, drinking, smoking, reading and any other activity that may take your eyes off the road.
  • Don’t text and drive. It’s the law.

Next steps:

  • Read the Safe Kids Fayette County guide to preventing accidents while driving and get the hard facts about texting behind the wheel.
  • Check out the NIH story for more details on how distracted driving is causing accidents.