Fall 2002 Sentinel
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The Sentinel Making Utah a Safer Place for Kids

Select an article below, or download the entire issue:

§         Teach Your Child Safety

§         Pretty Poisons

§         Are Your Car Seats Safe?

§         Preparing for the Worst

§         “LATCH” on to This …

§         Hunt for Your Guns

§         Safe at Home



Teach Your Child Safety

The Problem


Unintentional injuries are the number one killer of children under the age of 14 in the United States. Each year one in four children is hurt seriously enough to require medical attention. These injuries can be prevented if families take the simple steps necessary to protect their children.


As a parent, what can I do?


Parents have the greatest responsibility for safety education. Whether you notice or not, your child is always imitating your behavior. Be a safety role model. Also, be sure to keep your eye on your children during their everyday activities; there is no substitute for parental supervision.


Be a pedestrian role model.


(Pedestrians account for one-fourth of traffic fatalities for children under age 16)


§         Cross at corners and crosswalks.

§         Teach your child to stop and look “left-right-left” before crossing.

§         Walk on the sidewalk if there is one.

§         Obey all traffic signs and signals.


Be a careful driver.


(Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 5-15):


§         Take speed limits seriously, especially in school zones and residential areas.

§         Always drop off and pick up children on the right side of the street. (Otherwise children may dart out in front of traffic.)

§         Always buckle up! Statistics show that when you buckle up, children will also buckle and stay that way 90% of the time.

§         Obeying the rules of the road, driving attentively, and using a car seat are the safest things you can do for your child while in a vehicle.


Teach your child to bike smart.


(More than one-third of bicyclists killed are between the ages of 5 and 15, and most deaths are due to head injuries.)


§         Set a good example by wearing your helmet when you ride, and teach your children that helmets must be worn at all times.

§         Show your children the proper way to wear a helmet. It should rest low on the forehead just above the eyebrows and fit snugly.

§         Obey all traffic signs and signals while bicycling.

§         Always ride alone on a bicycle, never carry passengers.

§         Riding a bicycle at night is dangerous. Make sure to have both front and back lights if you must bike at night. Teach your child simple safety today and give yourself peace of mind tomorrow.


— Information provided by Salt Lake Valley Health Department.


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Pretty Poisons

All That Glitters is Not Good


What child can resist the allure of a festive holiday tree, or a candle flickering on a tabletop? The holidays bring out the best in our decorating instincts, but can be a dangerous time for kids who are natural explorers. As you prepare to deck your halls, keep these precautions in mind:


Toxic Tinsel


§         Mistletoe and holly berries can be poisonous if swallowed.

§         Old tinsel may contain lead. Dispose of it safely if you don't know exactly what it's made of.

§         Lamp oils are colorful and attractive to children - but extremely hazardous. Keep holiday lamps out of reach.


Food, Drink & Parties


§         Improper handling, preparation, cooking or storage of food can result in food poisoning. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold!

§         Clean up immediately after parties. Leftover alcohol and cigarettes are tempting but toxic to children and pets.


Holiday Visitors


§         Holidays are for visiting and daily routines are often disrupted. Parents need to be even more cautious to prevent poisonings.

§         Remind visitors to keep pills in a secure location, away from children.


Coughs and Colds


§         The onset of winter brings the cold and flu season, and that means there may be more medicines in your home than at other times of the year. Remember:


  1. Keep all medicines in a locked cupboard, out of reach of children.
  2. There is no such thing as childproof! Child-resistant lids can delay access to medicines, but children can often open the lids.
  3. Always keep medicine in its original container. Don't transfer to a food container or plastic bag.

For more information, call the specialists at Utah Poison Control Center toll-free at 1 (800) 222-1222 or visit their new Web site at www.uuhsc.utah.edu/poison.


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Are Your Car Seats Safe?

Just Ask the Experts at Primary Children's


Primary Children's Medical Center and the Utah SAFE KIDS Coalition are proud to welcome their new Child Safety Seat Inspection Station now open at the Salt Lake City-based hospital. The station gives parents and caregivers a free and convenient way to find out whether their car seats are installed and working properly.


This is great news in light of a new study that shows more than 85% of all child restraints are used incorrectly. Even seemingly small mistakes can lead to deadly consequences, as motor vehicle crashes remain the leading killer of kids ages 1 to 14. Each year, more than 1,700 children are killed and another 264,000 are injured as occupants of motor vehicles.


The study by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign analyzed the incorrect use patterns of 469 Utah child safety seats and vehicle safety belts that were seen at several SAFE KIDS car seat check events from February 2001-March 2002.


To prevent three very common mistakes:


  1. Secure safety seats tightly with less than one inch movement.*
  2. Check instructions to see if a locking clip is needed for proper installation.*
  3. Place retainer clip at armpit level.*

The inspection station officially opened Sept. 26 and is available by appointment only. It is staffed by English and Spanish-speaking trained technicians who will teach you all the ins and outs of car seat safety. The station is one of 30 new child safety seat facilities opening nationwide.


Recently, a family visited Primary Children's for help with their car seats. Just weeks later, the family was involved in a serious motor vehicle crash. The car was destroyed, but the children were all safe. While this illustrates the efforts parents are making to protect their children, it also demonstrates the importance of having resources available to teach parents about restraint safety.


Primary Children's and the Utah SAFE KIDS Coalition hope parents will take advantage of the new inspection service. The station is open to the public by appointment only. Please call the (801) 588-CARS hotline for more details or to locate car seat help in your community.


Remember, using a child safety seat can reduce injury and death by 50%, and using a PROPERLY INSTALLED seat can reduce injury and death by 71%.


* For more help understanding safety guidelines for buckling up your children, please visit the National SAFE KIDS Campaign Web site at www.safekids.org.


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Preparing for the Worst

Teach Your Kids the Danger of Strangers


With the recent child abductions in Utah and across the country, frightened parents are asking themselves what they can do to keep their own children safe.


Children too are watching the news - many are now afraid to step out of their homes alone for fear of being kidnapped. Amid all this, it's important to remember abductions are still very rare, and the majority of children will make it to adulthood safely.


One of the challenges of parenting is teaching children to be cautious without stirring up too much fear. It's important to create a nurturing environment where your children feel safe and cared for. Although dangers exist, you can reduce the chance a child will be taken. First, give children the basics on avoiding and escaping potentially dangerous situations.


Teach Them to:


§         Never accept candy or gifts from a stranger.

§         Never go anywhere with a stranger, even if it sounds like fun. Attackers often lure children with questions like, “Can you help me find my lost puppy?” or “Do you want to see some cute kittens in my car?”

§         Run away and scream if someone follows them or tries to force them into a car.

§         Always ask permission from a parent to leave the house, yard, play area, or to go into someone's home.

§         If someone they don't know talks to them, run home or to the nearest friend's home.


Because the first few hours are the most critical in abduction cases, it's important to have information about your child immediately available. This includes height, weight, eye color, hair color and a current picture. Parents can keep these other tips in mind also:


§         Have ID-like photos taken of your children every six months.

§         Have your children fingerprinted. Many local police departments sponsor fingerprinting programs.

§         Keep your children's medical and dental records current.

§         Make sure younger children know their name, address, phone number and whom to contact in case of an emergency. Discuss with them what to do if they get lost in a public place or store. Remind your children that they should never go to parking lots to look for you.

§         Show your children the homes of friends in the neighborhood where they can go in case of trouble.

§         Never leave children alone in a car or stroller, even for a minute.

§         Develop code words for caregivers other than mom or dad, and remind them never to tell anyone the code word. Teach them never to go with anyone who doesn't know the code word.

§         If your children are old enough to stay home alone, make sure the doors and windows are locked and to never tell anyone they are home alone.


Most often families will never have to face the terror of abduction - but as with all safety precautions, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.


Information provided from www.primarychildrens.com. (Kids Health)


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“Latch” on to This …

New Government LATCH Rules Make Car Seats Safer


If you've ever been frustrated when installing or transferring a child safety seat - this article is for you.


In an effort to reduce vehicle-related child injuries and deaths that result from incorrectly installed safety seats, the U.S. and Canadian governments have adopted a new restraint system. It's called LATCH and it requires U.S.-made vehicles and child safety seats to be equipped with a universal anchor system that makes installation and use much easier. LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) is a standardized method of installing a child restraint without using a seat belt.


The law affects all vehicles and child safety seats manufactured after Sept. 1, 2002. And while both will be manufactured with the new system, the new seats will still work in your old vehicle. The LATCH system consists of:


§         One tether anchor for a top tether of a forward-facing child restraint. You will find these in the rear window deck area or on the vehicle seatbacks. To find the locations, check your vehicle owner's manual.

§         Two lower seat anchors at the seat “bight” - the area where the top and bottom of the seat come together. You will see two small dots sewn onto the seat to show the anchor locations.

§         The child restraint after September 1, 2002 will have a top tether strap and two flexible attachments made of webbing or a rigid framework to slip into the seat bight.


This system is designed to make it easier for parents to both install seats and to tighten them down, as loose seats are very dangerous in a crash.


Whether your car or car seat is new or old, always remember to read the instruction booklet that comes with the child restraint and your vehicle owner's manual.


Together, these important documents will help keep your child alive in a crash.


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Hunt For Your Guns

Then Lock Them Away


If your home is like half of those in the United States, there is a firearm somewhere inside. While firearm incidents have decreased significantly over the last 20 years, national statistics show that guns still kill a child every 90 minutes.


With hunting season upon us, now is a good time to evaluate the safety of the firearms in your home. If you own a gun, your most important responsibility as a parent or caregiver is making certain children cannot find it. The precautions you take can be effective in saving a life. If you don't take precautions, you could face civil and/or criminal consequences if someone gets hurt with your gun on your property. Below are some suggestions you can - and must - take to prevent firearm injuries:


§         Make sure all weapons are unloaded and safely stored, with the ammunition secured in a separate location. A locked firearm case or safe is best when a gun is not being used.

§         Use a gunlock while storing your firearm. Many of us already have smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and burglar alarms. Gunlocks are just another device that can make your home safer. Cable-style locks are inexpensive and easy to use and can be purchased for around $10.

§         Always re-check your firearms carefully and completely to be sure they're still unloaded when you remove them from storage. Unintentional injuries have occurred when a family member or friend has borrowed or loaned a firearm and returned it to storage with ammunition still inside.

§         Always clean and place your firearms in their proper storage location immediately after returning from a day on the range or a hunting trip.


It is also important to talk with your children about the importance of firearm safety. Be sure to address and encourage the following:


§         Don't go looking for firearms in a friend's or relative's home. Don't let other kids look for firearms in your house.

§         If you find a firearm in your house or anywhere else, leave it alone. Don't touch it! Don't let anyone else touch it! Report it to an adult immediately.

§         Even if a firearm looks like a toy, don't touch it. Some real firearms look like toys. Don't take a chance. Once again, tell an adult.


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Safe at Home

A Household Safety Checklist


While you're locking up your guns and poisons, there are plenty of other potential hazards in your home, so take a few minutes to check for the following:


§         Are knives, forks, scissors and other sharp tools in a drawer with a safety latch?

§         Are glass objects and appliances with sharp blades stored out of children's reach?

§         Is the garbage behind a cabinet door with a safety latch?

§         Are all appliances unplugged when not in use, with cords far from reach?

§         Are all cleaning supplies - even dishwashing liquid - in a cabinet with a safety latch?

§         Are all plastic garbage bags and sandwich-style baggies far from reach?

§         Are all bottles of alcohol in a high cabinet far from reach?

§         Are long telephone cords far from the floor?

§         Is the thermostat on the hot water heater set to 120 degrees F or lower?

§         Are there rubber pads under loose rugs to hold them securely to the floor?

§         Is the crib free from soft pillows, large stuffed animals, and soft bedding?

§         Are window blind cords tied up with clothespins or specially designed cord clips?

§         Are all unused outlets covered with safety caps?

§         Are televisions and stereo equipment positioned against walls?

§         Are dressers secured to walls so they cannot be pulled down on top of a child?

§         Are there safety bars installed on upper-story windows?

§         Are there hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of every stairway?

§         Are stairways clear of tripping hazards?

§         Are all hazardous automotive and gardening products in a securely locked area?

§         Does your family have an escape plan in case of a fire?


Overwhelming as it may seem, going through the above checklist is a critical first step in keeping your kids “safe at home.”


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