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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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Going to a trampoline park? Reduce injury risk with these tips

Now that the weather has gotten chillier, you may be looking for fun indoor activities to do with the kids. If you’re headed to an indoor trampoline park, know that while they do encourage physical activity, they can also be dangerous. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over 100,000 children visited emergency rooms last year due to trampoline accidents, and there’s even a fracture that some doctors call “trampoline ankle.”

If you and your kids are heading to an indoor trampoline park for a birthday party or just for a day of fun, keep these tips in mind:

  • Always have adult supervision. Children should only jump with a responsible adult around.
  • One person at a time. Be aware of other jumpers.
  • Discourage double-jumping. This is when one person lands just as another person is attempting to jump.
  • No flips or somersaults. These can lead to head and neck injuries, wrist sprains or fractures, or other serious injuries.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict your movement.
  • Don’t wear jewelry or other sharp objects while jumping. Empty your pockets and don’t wear a hat while jumping, either.
  • Avoid peak hours. Go during less busy times so there are fewer people and fewer distractions.
  • Stay in age-appropriate areas. This includes adults!

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recommends that children under 6 should not jump on trampolines or visit indoor trampoline parks at all. Children’s bones are still growing, so jumping on a trampoline poses a high risk of injury, according to Dr. John Draus, a pediatrician at UK HealthCare and director of the UK Pediatric Trauma Program.

Most injuries take place because of collisions while jumping, incorrect landings or falling off a trampoline onto a hard surface. Always follow the safety guidelines set forth by the trampoline park.


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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.


Next steps:

  • 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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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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healthy school lunches

Tips for packing a delicious, nutritious school lunch

Parents, the school year is here – what’s your plan for packing school lunches?

By putting some thought into your children’s lunches, you can help keep them full and able to focus on learning throughout the school day. Here’s how:

Rethink the sandwich

Sandwiches are a staple of school lunches, but they don’t have to be boring or unhealthy.

  • Choose bread that is made from whole grains (terms like “100% whole wheat” or “100% whole grain” should be listed first on the ingredients list). Whole grains have nutrients like fiber and can help lower the risk for diabetes.
  • Instead of cheese or mayonnaise, try healthier options like avocado and hummus.
  • Put sliced apple or pear on a turkey sandwich for an extra serving of fruit.
  • Introduce some variety by using whole-wheat tortillas or whole-wheat pita in place of bread.

Make fruits and vegetables fun

Kids need three to four servings of vegetables and two to three servings of fruit each day. Make sure you’re loading up your kids’ lunch boxes with a variety of each.

  • Keep it colorful. Incorporate fruits and vegetables of different colors, such as red apples, oranges, blueberries and dark leafy greens.
  • Encourage kids to play with their food by packing healthy dips. Hummus is great with vegetables such as green peppers and carrots, while low-fat plain yogurt is a healthy option for fruit like apples and strawberries.
  • Feeling creative? Try “bugs on a log.” Use celery sticks or carrots as the “logs” and load them with peanut butter. Then sprinkle your choice of “bugs” – dried cherries, cranberries or raisins – on top to create a fun and tasty snack. Look online for other creative, healthy snack options.
  • Ask your kids what they like. Find out which fruits and veggies are their favorites and be sure to include those more frequently.

Don’t forget about beverages

An otherwise-nutritious lunch can be undone if a child washes it down with an unhealthy beverage.

  • Encourage your children to drink water throughout the day. Drinking water is essential for good health, and it’s a great habit to build early in life.
  • Choose low-fat or non-fat milk. Children get the same calcium and nutrients from these but without the added saturated fat and calories.
  • Avoid sugary drinks such as soda, sports beverages and even juice (especially if it’s not 100-percent juice). They’re often loaded with extra sugar and calories and contain little nutritional benefit.

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back-to-school safety

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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Following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid.

Planning a cookout? Follow our grilling safety tips

Cookouts and barbecues are a staple of the summer season, but firing up the grill can be dangerous if you don’t follow the proper precautions.

Each year, grilling accidents cause nearly 10,000 home fires and send 16,000 people to the emergency room. But following a few grilling safety tips can keep the focus on good food and fun, not on first-aid:

  • Use grills outside only. Even small grills used inside create fire hazards, plus they release carbon monoxide, which can be fatal to people and pets without proper ventilation.
  • Keep the grill away from the home, deck railing, overhanging tree branches and any flammable decorations. Make sure nothing flammable can blow onto the grill.
  • Use the right lighter fluid for your grill, and store it away from the heat and out of the reach of children.
  • Establish a child- and pet-free zone. Make sure children and pets are indoors and/or being supervised by someone other than the cook. And keep them at least three feet from the grill. Burns from contacting a hot grill are especially common in kids under 5.
  • Clean the grill well before use. Grease and fat can build up on the grill and contribute to fires.
  • Don’t overload the grill. Excess fat dripping on the flames can cause major flare-ups.
  • Keep a spray bottle of water handy. Use it to douse small flare-ups before they get out of control. The bonus? Water won’t ruin the food.
  • Never leave your grill unattended. And remember that charcoal grills can stay hot for hours after use.
  • If your flame dies down, add dry kindling. Never add lighter fluid once the flame has been lit.

When using a gas grill

  • Make sure the lid is open before lighting it. This prevents flammable gas from being trapped in the chamber, which can cause an explosion.
  • If you smell gas and the flame is off, turn the gas off.
  • If you smell gas while using a gas grill and the flame is on, get away immediately. This is a sign that there is a leak. Call the fire department, and stay away from the grill.

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Fireworks safety tips from UK HealthCare

Got fireworks? Keep your Fourth fun, safe with these tips

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

In fact, in 2015, more than 3,000 children and young adults under the age of 20 in the United States 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 sparklers, 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.

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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.