Spring 2005 Sentinel
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The Sentinel Making Utah a Safer Place for Kids

Select an article below, or download the entire issue:

§         Safety Begins With You

§         Use Your Head

§         Be Water Wise

§         Poison Prevention Is Up to You

§         Be Street Smart

§         No Car Seat?  No Way!



Safety Begins With You

Utah Safe Kids Week


As adults, we lead the way when it comes to keeping our children safe. During SAFE KIDS Week, April 29 – May 7, the Utah SAFE KIDS Coalition and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) are teaming up to make it easier for us to do just that.


The theme of SAFE KIDS Week is “Follow the Leader….Safety Begins With You,” and the focus is a nationwide effort to get dangerous recalled products out of American homes.


“Hand-me-downs and old cribs and playpens may have sentimental value,” said Utah SAFE KIDS Coalition Coordinator Sharon Hines- Stringer. “But many of them are dangerous and even deadly. During SAFE KIDS Week and beyond, keeping kids safe from dangerous products is our primary goal,” she said.


Some of the most common recalled products include:


Old cribs with more than 21/2 inches between the slats, or with cutouts on the headboard or footboard, are dangerous because children can get caught between the slats or in the cutouts and strangle.


Playpens with mesh sides can strangle young children because of faulty side and top rails. If left in the “down” position, the rails may form pockets that an infant can roll into and suffocate.


Some infant car seats and carriers have handles or side locks that can break. When this happens babies fall out and are hurt. Visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov to check for recalls on any car seat.


Old baby walkers can fall down stairs. New styles use rubber strips underneath or around the base that grip the floor and stop walkers from moving.


Baby gates can trap children or collapse, allowing kids to fall down stairs or get into unsafe areas. Parents should replace any gate made before 1985 with a newer gate that uses a pressure bar or other fastener a small child can’t push through.


Beanbag chairs can choke or suffocate children if opened. In 1996, manufacturers changed their design so that young children can’t open the zippers and swallow the foam pellets inside. If you have a beanbag a child can open – get rid of it.


Drawstrings around the neck on children’s jackets and sweatshirts can strangle children. Pull out or cut all neck drawstrings on clothing. Do not pass along clothing with drawstrings to thrift stores or to other people.


Bunk beds with openings between 31/2 and 9 inches in the bed frame or between the bed frame and mattress are dangerous. Children can become trapped and strangle or suffocate. High posts on bed frames can be dangerous, too, because children can strangle when their clothing or bedding becomes caught on them.


Window blind cords can strangle children when they become entangled in the inner cords used to raise the slats. If your home has blinds purchased before 2000, contact the manufacturer for a repair kit.


For more information contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at (800) 638-2772 or visit www.cpsc.gov or www.recalls.gov. You can also download or order the free “Dangerous and Recalled Products Reference Guide.” For information about general child safety issues, call the Utah SAFE KIDS Coalition at (801) 538-6852.


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Use Your Head

Wear a Helmet


Bicycles are lots of fun: they give kids freedom and are a great form of exercise. But bikes are more than just toys – they’re associated with thousands of injuries annually.


Every year, more than 2,400 Utah kids are hurt in bike crashes, and head injuries are common. The Utah Department of Health’s Traumatic Brain Injury Surveillance Project shows five percent (about 270 each year) of all traumatic brain injuries are caused by bike crashes. But remember, wearing a bike helmet can cut your risk of head injury by 85%.


How to get your kids to wear helmets:


1.     Be a good example: wear your helmet every time you get on a bike.

2.     Start the helmet habit early – get one as soon as your child gets his first trike.

3.     Let your child pick out her own helmet. Kids are more likely to wear cool ones they’ve chosen themselves.

4.     Make it a family rule that no one rides without a helmet. Ever.

5.     Praise your kids every time they wear a helmet.


A helmet should be level and rest low on the forehead, just above the eyebrows. The straps need to be buckled, tightened snugly under the chin, and the “V” needs to be directly below the ear. Wear a helmet while riding scooters, skateboards, and inline skates. If a helmet has been crashed, get a new one - even if it looks okay.


Remind your kids how to ride bikes safely:


§         Obey all traffic signs.

§         Ride on the right side of the street in the same direction as traffic.

§         Stop and look left, right, left before entering the road from behind a parked car, driveway, parking lot, or sidewalk.

§         Ride in a straight line; don’t swerve back and forth.

§         Wear bright clothing.


For more information on bike safety, visit the Utah Department of Health Violence and Injury Prevention Web site at www.health.utah.gov/vipp. To learn more about brain injury, check out the Traumatic Brain Injury in Utah Report at http://www.health.utah.gov/vipp/pdf/TBIinUtah.pdf.


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Be Water Wise

Children Can Drown Without a Sound


Water can draw a crowd whether to a public swimming pool, a rushing river or a family car wash on the front lawn.


Every year, at least 10 Utah children die tragically by drowning. For infants under age one, more than half of drownings occur in bathtubs. For children 1-4 the danger zone is pools. And kids 5-14 most often drown in open water like lakes, rivers and streams.


While many parents think a drowning child will cry for help, the fact is, a child under the water can’t scream and often can’t move. Once submersed, it takes just two minutes for the child to lose consciousness. After four to six minutes there will be permanent brain damage.


The good news is drowning is absolutely preventable. Parents can keep their children safe with these important tips:


§         Supervise children in or around water at all times.

§         Never leave a small child alone or with a sibling in a bathtub. One-third of all children who drowned in a bathtub had been left alone with a brother or sister.

§         Always use approved life vests in the water and while onboard boats.

§         Never use water wings or “floaties” as life vests. They’re toys and won’t prevent drowning.

§         Watch your children closely at public pools – even with a lifeguard on duty.

§         Never rely solely on a life vest or swimming lessons to protect a child.

§         Don’t let children under 15 operate Jet Skis® or WaveRunners®.

§         Enroll kids in swimming lessons by age 8.

§         Learn infant and child CPR.

§         If you have a home pool, install a fence with self-closing, latched gates around it. Lock the gate to your backyard to keep neighbor children from wandering in.

§         Ask neighbors with pools to lock their gates.

§         Don’t swim under houseboats. Engine exhaust kills several swimmers every year.


Of all these tips, watching your child constantly is the most important. Research by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign shows that 9 out of 10 children who drowned were being supervised by a family member or friend when they died.


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Poison Prevention Is Up to You


In 2004, the Utah Poison Control Center (UPPC) handled 53,000 poison emergencies – most involving children younger than six. Most of the cases were handled over the phone and the children never had to see a doctor. But there are still many serious poisonings every year. In 2003:


§         Nearly 1,400 children were seen in emergency rooms for poisonings

§         75% percent of those treated were under age 5

§         67 children were hospitalized for poisonings

§         Half of those hospitalized were younger than 5


The most common poisons young children get into include: toothpaste and fluoride; nail products; household cleaners; pain relievers; and cough and cold medicines. To prevent poisoning:


§         Close all containers tightly after use.

§         Don’t leave lawn chemicals where kids can find them.

§         Put medicines away immediately after use.

§         Call the poison center at 1-800-222-1222 if you think someone has been poisoned.

§         When using vitamins or medicine, never let young children out of your sight.

§         Keep items in their original containers.

§         Don’t take your own medicine in front of children.

§         Never call medicine “candy.”

§         Don’t use ipecac syrup if you suspect poisoning. Call the poison center first.

§         Be careful in homes with elderly residents who tend to take more medicines and may not use child-resistant caps.


Keep the UPCC phone number – 1-800-222-1222 – nearby for round-the-clock help. For more information on poisoning prevention visit http://uuhsc.utah.edu/poison.


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Be Street Smart

Walk This Way to Stay Safe


Trying to cross many Utah streets can be dangerous. Drivers are distracted or speeding (or both) and kids aren’t watching where they’re going. The result is too often tragic:


§         From 1994–2003, 110 kids 14 and younger were hit and killed by cars.

§         During that same time more than 3,500 children were struck by vehicles but survived.


In general, Utah law gives the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing in marked crosswalks or at marked or unmarked intersections. The right-of-way goes to the vehicle if the pedestrian is not in a crosswalk or intersection. The law also requires pedestrians to obey the same traffic laws and signals as vehicles.


If you’re the pedestrian:


§         Always cross at a designated/marked crosswalk.

§         Make yourself visible. If bright-colored flags are available, use one and wave it.

§         Before stepping into the traffic lane, make sure that each driver sees you.

§         Look the driver in the eye and don’t start out until the vehicle has come to a stop.


As a driver, do your part by:


§         Obeying all traffic laws. Travel at or below the posted speed limit and yield to pedestrians.

§         Being especially alert when traveling near schools, parks or in neighborhoods. Children don’t always remember what they’ve been taught and will run out into traffic. With kids, expect the unexpected.

§         Never driving drunk, drugged or drowsy.


As a parent, you can make traffic safety fun by practicing safe crossing with your family. Check out the following Web sites for ideas:






Keep your own and other kids safe by slowing down and watching for them - their safety is in your hands.


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No Car Seat?  No Way!


Utahns have come a long way when it comes to buckling themselves and their children up. But there’s always room for improvement. If you need more convincing that seat belts save lives, think of this: Your chances of surviving a crash are double if you wear a seat belt and stay in the vehicle.


Utah law requires children ages 4 and under to be in an approved child safety seat. For children ages 5 to 16, the law says only that an “appropriate child restraint device” must be used. To some parents, that means a seat belt. But years of research prove that booster seats provide the best protection for children ages 4-8 who are too small for adult seat belts.


These children should be properly restrained in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4’9” tall and weigh at least 80 pounds. Children who are taller and heavier can wear adult seat belts as long as the lap part of the belt rides low on the hips and upper thighs (not over the tummy as that can cause severe injuries in a crash) and the shoulder belt crosses the center of the chest and the feet rest flat on the floor of the car. Also, never let your child put the shoulder belt under her arm: in a crash the belt could break ribs and collapse the lungs.


So, tempting as it may be to let your kids go “unbelted” once in awhile, realize that most crashes happen at speeds under 40 miles per hour and within ten miles of home. Which means you need to protect yourself and your children every time you get into a vehicle, whether you’re going two miles or just a block or two down the street.


Kids and Cars:  A Terrible Toll

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading killer of Utah children ages 1-17


From 1999-2003:


§         259 children (an average of one child every week) died in motor vehicle crashes

§         1,917 children were hospitalized

§         32,000 were treated in emergency rooms


A 2003 Utah study of car seat use showed:


§         Only 88% of children 0 to 4 years old were restrained

§         Just 80% of children 5 to 10 years old were restrained

§         Nearly 80% of children who were in car safety seats were improperly restrained


A 2003 Utah study of crashes showed:


§         Children who weren’t restrained were 23 times more likely to die in the crash than those who were buckled up.


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