Leaving Kids Behind in the Car
Each year, more than 30 children die from heat stroke after being left unattended in cars. And COVID-19 has seen plenty of routines disrupted and schedules dismantled. That means with restrictions being lifted, it’s a good time to revisit car safety.
“It’s really tough to imagine that a child could be forgotten in a car, but it happens, and it can happen to anyone, especially if there is a change in a daily routine,” says Purnima Unni, MPH, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. “Households have been juggling so much over the past few months while at home; life is full of distractions and keeping track of where your children are is more important than ever,” she adds. In Tennessee, it is illegal to leave your child unattended in a car.
The Children’s Hospital offers the following tips to help you avoid hot-car related accidents:
• Never leave your child alone inside the car, even for a minute.
• Use cellphone or computer reminders to make sure children
have been dropped off at the desired locations.
• If your child is missing, check your car first.
• Teach your children to never play inside vehicles to prevent them
from accidentally locking themselves inside.
• Lock all doors and windows to any cars on your property.
• Anyone who sees a child left alone in a hot vehicle should call 911.
• Look before you lock: Get into the routine of always checking the
back seats of your vehicle before you lock it and walk away.
• Leave yourself reminders: Get in the habit of keeping a
stuffed toy or other item in your child’s car seat, then move
it to the front seat as a visual reminder when the baby is in the
back seat. Or, place your phone, briefcase or purse in the back
seat when traveling with your child.
• Have a plan with your childcare provider: If your child does not
show up to day care without prior notice, someone should call to
locate the child. Have your childcare provider call if your child is
more than 10 minutes late.
Riding Without a Helmet
COVID-19 has seen a lot of families out in neighborhoods and kids riding bikes and scooters. Tennessee law requires helmets for all children younger than 16 when bike riding. Tell that to your kids the next time they balk at your request to wear a helmet. Helmets reduce head injuries from bike accidents by up to 80 percent. Use helmets that meet safety standards (see cpsc.gov), and make sure they’re securely fastened when worn.
It’s easy to just think that another parent is on pool duty during a summer backyard party, or even when a child is invited over to a friend’s house to swim. Only a few unsupervised minutes in water can be deadly for a young child. Assign a supervisor — a certified lifeguard or an adult — to be on official duty for pool parties. If your child is invited to swim at a friend’s pool, be sure you know who’s supervising. Pool owners: Keep rescue equipment — a shepherd’s hook and life preserver — nearby.
• Dump water from baby pools when done with them for the day.
• Make sure gates are closed on your home pool at all times.
• Tell your kids to ALWAYS swim with a buddy, never alone.
• If your kids go swimming at a friend’s house, know who’s in
charge and supervising.
• Supervising kids swimming means NOT being distracted. If
you’re supervising, then supervise.
MORE SLIP UPS:
• Skipping Sunscreen
Only 15 minutes in the sun means exposure to ultraviolet rays, yet time and time again kids come home with sunburns. The problem is, repeated sunburns in childhood can lead to skin cancer in adulthood; skin damage builds up over time starting with the very first sunburn as a child and the more you burn over time, the greater your risk of skin cancer. Cover your kids with SPF 30 sunscreen in the morning before heading outside. Teach older kids how to reapply sunscreen if you’re not going to be with them. If you are with them, reapply sunscreen after swimming. Fun tip: use sunscreen to make shapes on your child so they won’t fuss about the time it takes to apply sunscreen!
• Masking Mistakes
With July being one of the hottest months of the year in our state, many kids will struggle to use masks for social distancing. David Aronoff M.D., director, Division of Infectious Diseases at VUMC, says social distancing continues to be a top recommendation for keeping COVID-19 at bay when leaving home. A few tips may help kids with masking in hot weather:
• Consider translucent face shields. “They can be more
comfortable than masks for some,” Aronoff says.
• To prevent overheating while wearing a mask, keep your kids
hydrated and shaded.
• Wash or sanitize hands when taking off or putting on masks.
• Social distance outdoors when mask-wearing is difficult.
• Not Drinking Water
Dehydration happens a lot on hot summer days. Make sure your kids get plenty to drink, even if they say they’re not thirsty. Have them drink a full glass of water before leaving to play outside and keep cool water accessible to them.