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Safe Kids Kansas urges shoppers to be mindful when buying toys for children this holiday season.
Each year, about 200,000 toy-related injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms nationwide.
“More than 3 billion toys and games are sold in the U.S. every year, and most of them are very safe,” said Cherie Sage, state director for Safe Kids Kansas. “Warning labels and manufacturers’ instructions tell you how to use the product safely. If the manufacturer sets a minimum age or other restrictions, there’s a reason.”
For example, Sage said, a label reading not appropriate for children under 3 could be present because the toy poses a choking hazard, not because it’s too difficult for a 2-year-old.
Safe Kids Kansas recommends the following safety measures:
• Buy age-appropriate toys. All toys are clearly marked if they have small parts. Do not buy toys with small parts for children younger than age 3 or allow them to play with those kinds of toys belonging to an older sibling. Also, avoid building sets with small magnets for children. Magnets are dangerous if swallowed.
• Identify dangerous small parts. To be sure of a toy’s size, use a small parts tester or the cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper to identify choking hazards. Do not let small children play with anything that can fit into one of these cylinders.
• Keep batteries out of sight and out of reach. Lithium button batteries are coin-sized batteries that can easily be swallowed by children and can come from many devices, such as remote controls, singing greeting cards, watches, bathroom scales, and flameless candles. If a child swallows a battery, go to the emergency room immediately. Tell doctors and nurses that your child may have swallowed a battery. Do not let the child eat or drink until a chest X-ray can determine if a battery is present. Do not induce vomiting. Call the National Battery Ingestion Hotline at 202-625-3333 for additional treatment information.
• Buy proper safety gear. If you purchase a riding toy, such as a scooter, skateboard, in-line skates or bicycle, remember that the gift isn’t complete without a helmet and appropriate protective gear.
• Inspect toys to make sure they are in good repair. Check children’s play areas for missing or dislodged parts. Do not let young children play with toys that have straps, cords or strings longer than 7 inches, due to the risk of strangulation.
• Actively supervise children. Caregivers should actively supervise children playing with any toy that has small parts, moving parts, electrical or battery power, cords, wheels or any other potentially risky component. Simply being in the same room as your child is not necessarily supervising. Active supervision means keeping the child in sight and in reach and paying undivided attention.
• Practice proper storage. Teach children to put toys away after playing to help prevent falls and unsupervised play, and make sure toys intended for younger children are stored separately from those for older children.
• Check the recall list if you get secondhand toys. Visit www.recalls.gov to make sure the toy hasn’t been recalled for safety reasons.
• Sign up for recall emails. Visit www.cpsc.gov and then click on “Sign up for safety news and recall e-mails.”
• Report safety concerns. Contact the Consumer Product Safety Commission at 800-638-2772 or www.cpsc.gov. “If your child has a close call, the next child might not be so lucky,” Sage said.
SHOP SAFELY, TOO
Sage said it is estimated that more than 20,000 children, ages 5 and under, are injured by shopping carts each year. Falls are the most common cause of shopping cart-related injuries. Tip-overs and children colliding with the cart are other causes of injury.
To avoid injuries, Safe Kids recommends:
• Never leave your child unattended in a shopping cart and stay close to the cart at all times.
• If you are placing your child in the shopping cart seat, always use a harness or the safety belt provided to restrain your child.
• Never place your own infant carrier on top of a shopping cart.
• Do not let your child ride in the cart basket, under the basket, on the sides of the cart, or on the front of the cart.
• Use the shopping carts that have a wheeled child carrier that is permanently attached and made part of the shopping cart. Some of these models look like cars or benches attached to the shopping cart.
Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department intern Bonnie Erickson organized a “Holiday Dessert Makeover Contest” for the staff as part of Fall Wellness Week at the department. The goal was to make the desserts healthier by cutting down on sugar, fat and/or calories.
There were eight entries:
• Chocolate cake — submitted by Trish Unruh.
• Carrot cake — Brenda Hawkins.
• Pumpkin cookies — Bonnie Erickson.
• Spritz cookies — Karen Flanders.
• Quinoa peanut butter chocolate chip cookies — Vince and Samantha Romero.
• German Apple Cake — Charlie Bryan and Jennifer Ng.
• Toasted Oat Marshmallow Treats — Chris Tilden.
• Strawberry Cheesecake — Alicia Erickson.
The entries were taste-tested and voted on by staff members. While all of the recipes were delicious and healthier their usual counterparts, there were a few that stood above the rest.
To find out the contest winners and for all of the recipes, visit the health department's website and click on the story "Health department staff gives holiday desserts a makeover."
Dan Partridge, director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, was elected president of the 2013 Board of Directors for the Kansas Association of Local Health Departments during its annual meeting Nov. 14.
Partridge has served on the association's 12-member board since 2008. As president, his responsibilities will include serving on the joint Kansas Department of Health and Environment and Kansas Association of Local Health Departments (KALHD) Preparedness Committee, serving on the KALHD legislative committee, serving as the KALHD appointment to the Kansas Association of Counties, and conducting the annual evaluation of the association's executive director.
Partridge, of Lawrence, has spent nearly 20 years in public health. He began work as director of the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department in 2007 and previously served as director of Administrative Services for the Reno County Health Department in Hutchinson, Kan, where he also served as director of Environmental Health and as an Environmental Health Sanitarian.
As the holiday cooking season approaches, Safe Kids Kansas reminds parents and caregivers to check the kitchen for preventable hazards and to supervise children at all times in the kitchen.
“It’s important to keep cabinets closed and locked, and to store hazardous substances out of reach, but that’s not enough. The most important safety precaution in the kitchen is constant, close, attentive supervision.”
— Cherie Sage, state director for Safe Kids Kansas
Whether a child is helping an adult cook or simply watching, he or she should always be actively supervised, which means that the child is in sight and in reach at all times.
“Burns from spills, steam, hot surfaces and flame can be especially devastating injuries,” Sage said. “Because young children have thinner skin than adults, they burn more severely and at lower temperatures.”
Scald burns from hot liquid or steam are the most common type of burns among children ages 4 and under. A child will suffer a full-thickness burn (third-degree burn) after just three seconds of exposure to 140-degree water.
Safe Kids Kansas recommends these precautions against kitchen burns:
• Never leave a hot stove unattended. (Unattended food on the stove is the No. 1 cause of home fires.)
• Never hold a child while cooking or carrying hot items.
• Cook on back burners whenever possible, and turn all handles toward the back of the stove.
• Don’t allow loose-fitting clothing in the kitchen.
• Keep hot foods and liquids away from the edges of counters and tables. Be especially careful around tablecloths, children can pull hot dishes down onto themselves.
• Tie up the electrical cords of small appliances. A toddler playing with a dangling cord can pull a toaster or microwave down from a countertop.
In addition to hot surfaces, hot liquids and sharp objects, the other major hazard in the kitchen is poison. Store potentially hazardous goods, such as cleaning products and alcohol (including many baking extracts), in locked cabinets out of reach. Also, install a carbon monoxide detector to alert everyone to get out of the house in the event of a buildup of the odorless toxic gas given off by fuel-burning appliances.
“You know your own children. Don’t give them knives or let them handle anything hot until they have shown the maturity and coordination to do it safely,” Sage said. “Some children mature faster than others, so it’s up to parents to use good judgment about each child’s capabilities.”
For more information about safety and burn prevention, visit www.safekids.org.
The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department has hired two new employees. Chris Tilden is the director of Community Health and Karrey Britt is the communications coordinator.
Tilden previously was the executive director at Mountain States Group in Boise, Idaho, a nonprofit health and human services agency. Prior to that, he worked 10 years at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, where he oversaw the Bureau of Local and Rural Health. Tilden earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in health policy and management from the University of Kansas, and a doctorate from Duke University in biological anthropology and anatomy.
Britt joined the health department after working 16 years at the Lawrence Journal-World where she held various jobs including copy editor, page designer and assistant assignment director. She most recently was health reporter and editor of WelllCommons.com. She also worked at The Daily Union in Junction City for two years. Britt received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from Kansas State University.