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Safe Kids Carroll County: A primer for grandparents on ever-changing child safety recommendations

Today’s child safety recommendations can be overwhelming. Especially for grandparents, as safety recommendations have changed drastically, due to high rates of injury and death in years past.

Let’s go over some of the most common safety topics.

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Car Seat Safety

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death to children. A properly used car seat reduces this risk by more than 70%. Unfortunately, 80% of car seats are used incorrectly.

· If you have a used car seat, be sure that you know the history. Know the prior owner, the car seat should not have been in a crash, not expired, all labels should be present, and it should be free of recalls.

· The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children remain rear facing until they reach the maximum weight or height of the rear-facing convertible seat for OPTIMAL protection, which is typically by age 2 at the earliest.

· After-market accessories that did not come with the car seat should not be used (i.e. harness pads, hanging toys, extra headrests).

· Avoid bulky clothing, as this does not allow the harness to rest tight against the baby’s body.

· Have your car seat checked to be sure that it is installed and used correctly.

Poison Safety

Medicine poisoning is one of the most common reasons children visit the emergency room. The risk can be reduced by following the tips below:

· Keep medicine up and away, out of children’s reach and sight, whether it is prescription, over-the-counter, or vitamins.

· Choose child-resistant packaging whenever possible, but remember that child-resistant is not child-proof.

· When administering medicine to a child, read all labels, follow dosing instructions, and use the dosing device that comes with the medicine. Do NOT use alternative methods of administering medication, such as a kitchen spoon.

· Dispose of unused medication safely. In Carroll County, you can drop off unused or expired medication to any local police department.

· Save the poison help number in your phone and post it visibly at home: 1-800-222-1222

· Call the poison control center if you think a child has been poisoned, but is awake and alert. If you have a poison emergency and child has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911.

Sleep Safety

Unintentional suffocation is the leading cause of injury-related death among children under 1 year of age and nearly three-quarters of suffocation deaths among infants are from accidental suffocation or strangulation in bed.

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Follow these tips to keep your grandchildren safe while sleeping:

· Baby should always sleep in a safe crib, bassinet, or pack-n-play.

· Lay baby on his or her back for every sleep.

· Stuff animals, bumpers, and additional accessories can block a baby’s airway during sleep. Be sure to use a firm mattress covered with a tight-fitting crib sheet. Do not add any blankets or pillows to sleep environment.

· Room-sharing is safer than having baby sleep in bed with you. Place crib, bassinet, or pack-n-play in room for close contact and easy feeding.

For additional questions on any injury prevention topic, please contact the Safe Kids Coalition at 410-876-4448 or visit www.safekids.org

Lauren Harrison is a health educator with the Carroll County Health Department.

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