Yes, it’s that time of year again! The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to head to the attic, your basement, or your storage closet and bring out those boxes of decorations that have been collecting dust for the last eleven months. It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or maybe all three! You know you love it when all of the lights are up, the tree is decorated, and the candles are lit…but while you’re busy decorating the house and admiring the romantic glow of the fireplace, safety might be the last thing on your mind.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 240 injuries per day related to do-it-yourself holiday decorating activities during November and December of 2017. Let’s make sure you have a safe, healthy and happy holiday season with your friends and family.
Here are some of my top tips to keep in mind as you deck out your home in style this season.
1. Trees Get Thirsty Too!
A dried-out tree will definitely catch fire faster than one that has been properly watered. Be sure to check the water level every day to ensure it has proper hydration.
2. If You Fake It, Make It Safe!
If you decide to ‘go faux’ and buy an artificial tree, make sure it’s labeled “fire-resistant.” Fire-resistant trees are less susceptible to catching fire.
3. Double-Check Your Lights
The CSPC issued new guidelines for seasonal light safety back in 2015. There is a setting for minimum wire size, as well as standards for strain relief and over-current protection.
4. Prevent Electrical Cord Damage
Always avoid using nails or tacks when hanging up those cords, and don’t mount lights in a way that might damage the cord. Use hooks or insulated staples to prevent any type of damage. Cords should never be pinched by furniture, forced into small spaces such as doors or windows, placed under rugs, or located near heat sources.
5. Secure Those ‘Old Flames’
Old flames can die hard…especially when they’re burning on a holiday candle. Never leave a lit candle unattended, because these neglected candles are the cause of one in five home candle fires. Always keep them on a sturdy base to prevent tipping. Battery-operated candles are the perfect substitute, with none of the risk and all of the glow!
6. When You Say “Lights Out,” Mean It!
When leaving the house, make sure to turn all lights off to avoid a short that could start a catastrophic electrical fire. Half of home fire deaths occur between the hours of 11:00pm and 7:00am. When it’s time to call it a night and the kids have finally made it to dreamland, be sure to turn off all of the lights before your head finally hits the pillow.
It’s important to have fun decorating this holiday season and enjoy special quality time with your family and friends. If all goes as planned, hopefully there won’t be any accidents if you follow these simple tips. If by chance you do have a minor mishap, it’s always good to have a first aid kit nearby and our PreparaKits have got you covered with the essentials.
Be smart, have fun and be safe this holiday season.
Because of this, it’s important to keep an eye on your kids (and pets) to make sure they stay tick-free. If you do find one of the little bugs on you or a loved one, there’s a proper way to remove it quickly. You don’t want to develop Lyme Disease or end up with an infection.
The first thing you need to do when you come in from walking or playing outside is to do a quick tick check.
Inspect your legs, arms, and have someone else check the areas you can’t see yourself, specifically your scalp, neck, ears, your eyebrows and underarms. (Yes, they can and do dig in and hide themselves in the hair. Since most ticks are smaller than a centimeter, it’s easy for them to hide.)
If you’re going into a wooded area or an open area with really tall grass (higher than your shoes), be sure to wear knee-length socks, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. You can also consider tucking your pants into your socks for extra protection. (It may look weird, but it’s a lot better than Lyme Disease.) Take a shower to wash off any loose ticks and immediately throw your clothes into the dryer for ten minutes to kill any ticks with heat before you wash them.
If you find a tick on yourself, child, or a pet, there’s a method to removing it. When a tick bites you, it drives its head under the skin. If you just yank the tick off or scratch it off, you may leave the bug’s head inside you.
This alone won’t cause Lyme Disease, but it will often lead to a really nasty infection. Instead, use tweezers (or a specially designed tick removal tool) to grab the tick firmly as close to the skin as possible. Pull the tick straight up and out. Don’t twist it or move it back and forth. Just pull straight until the tick lets go.
Aftercare for Tick Removal
After you do this, be sure to wash the bite (and your hands) with anti-bacterial soap. You can also use a medicinal ointment like Neosporin. If the bite area develops a red ring, red bumps or if the person develops aches and a fever, consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Take Time to Check
The great outdoors can be a fun place to walk, play, and explore. However, you need to respect these areas by paying attention to the hidden dangers lurking out there such as ticks. Even though they can be some of the tiniest bugs in the wilderness, they can cause really severe problems if you don’t handle them properly.
There’s something about seeing our kids looking so small and helpless when they’re ill that kicks in the “mom” instinct making us want to kiss it and make it all better.
But if mom’s kisses don’t cure the problem, then you’re going to have to turn to the first aid kit or the medicine cabinet. When that happens, there are a few medicines you absolutely MUST have on hand for just such an emergency. If you don’t, Murphy’s Law dictates you’ll need the item at the least convenient time (such as in the middle of the night or when your spouse isn’t home and you’ll have to load all the kids into the car for a trip to the drugstore).
Here are three meds you need to have on hand in your medicine cabinet:
This is a nice one to have on hand as a painkiller and fever-reducer. The generic form of Motrin is ibuprofen and you can get this in pill form for your older kids or as a liquid suspension for the little ones.
It’s an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) that works by blocking inflammation to reduce pain. Because of its anti-inflammatory nature, it makes Motrin an ideal choice if your child gets banged up a bit playing sports.
As a fever-reducer, it can really help.
When you’re using Motrin for a fever reducer, it may not work right away to bring the fever down but the problem is that you can’t give too many doses in a short period of time.
For example, when I give my kids motrin, I usually can’t give the next dose for another 6 hours. But if their fever is still up, I can’t wait six hours. I need to get that fever down. So in this case, I would give them some Tylenol at the mid way point, which is at the 3 hour mark. Then in another 3 hours, if they still have the fever, I can give them the next dose of Motrin because it has been 6 hours since the last time they got it. Same concept with the Tylenol. I would alternate with these 2 meds until the fever came down.
The generic name for Tylenol is acetaminophen, so be sure you look for this if you aren’t getting the name brand. Also, as with any medicine, check the weight chart for the right dosage so you know you’re giving your little one the correct amount.
The third med you really need to keep on hand is Benadryl. This is an antihistamine, so it can help with allergy relief symptoms like a runny nose or sneezing. It’s also been linked to alleviating nausea from car sickness. But what you really want this medicine for is if your child has an allergic reaction to something.
If your child starts breaking out in hives or a mild rash, you want a quick response. If your child is showing signs of swelling particularly around the tongue and mouth or is wheezing, whatever caused the reaction could lead to anaphylactic shock and time is of the essence. A dose of Benadryl will help alleviate the symptoms. It’s important you follow up with getting your child help at an emergency room as Benadryl is only intended to be a temporary measure to give you more time to get help.
How Medicines Have Changed Since We Were Kids!
Mary Poppins famously sang that a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” Thankfully, a lot of these new medicines come in flavors that aren’t as awful tasting as when we were kids. But for the everyday aches, pains, and ailments your kid is most likely to develop, these are the three over-the-counter medicines you need to always have on tap at home.
It’s a sad but true reality – active shootings. While we can debate how we got to this place, what’s most helpful right now is learning how you can be prepared to save you and your family’s life.
Imagine you’re out at the mall, department store, or park. You’re going about your day and checking off lists, watching your kids play or enjoying time in a movie. Suddenly you hear what sounds like firecrackers but followed by screaming and panic. Your reality just changed. You’re in an active shooter situation.
What do you do next?
Three options for dealing with an active shooter situation:
Try to escape the area as quickly as possible. When you go into an area, be aware of at least two exit routes and have an escape plan in mind.
Be committed to escaping regardless if others refuse to get out
Help others escape if possible
Keep your hands up and visible if you encounter law enforcement
Call 911 when you are in a safe area
If you can’t escape, find a location where the active shooter is less likely to find you
Your hiding place should be out of view
Provide protection from gunfire if possible (brick, concrete, cinder block wall)
Use an office or room with a locked door. Use heavy furniture or office equipment to block the door.
If the active shooter is nearby,
Turn off the lights
Silence your cell phone or any other source of noise (TV, radio, etc.)
If possible, call 911 and alert the dispatcher where the shooter’s location is. If you cannot talk, leave the line open to allow the dispatcher to listen.
Remember, you may have to hide for hours until law enforcement secures the threat.
As a last resort, only fight when you cannot hide and your life and/or your family are in imminent danger.
Act as aggressively as possible and fully commit to your actions
Improvise weapons using items around you (fire extinguishers, chairs, etc.)
Law enforcement that arrives first on the scene have the primary job of eliminating the threat, it is unfortunately not to render help. They must stay focused on the situation and work to end the threat as soon as possible.
Help will come as more first responders arrive. It’s an unfortunate reality that we are faced with these situations but being aware of your surroundings and having a plan of action will help you survive. Take a look at this video made by the City of Houston, TX that reviews that same 3 tips for active shooter survival.
There are a lot of milestones that parents look forward to—first steps, first words, first day of school. But one of the things I’ve found many anticipate is the day they can turn their kid around in their car seat. I know I was!
Children one-year-old and under should always be placed in a rear-facing car seat.
I was recently talking to someone who kept her kid in a rear-facing seat until she was four-years-old. Granted, her daughter was a bit on the smaller side, but still, this is amazing to me. Big kudos and props to her.
Parents Get Excited to Turn Their Kids Child Seat Around
There are a lot of reasons why parents want to turn their kids around sooner rather than later. For one, the kids are really fussy during car rides and you want to be able to see them easier.
Another is that it’s easier to reach back and hand them something if they’re facing forward. Still others talk about kids getting more car sick because they’re riding backward.
Here are the reasons why keeping kids rear-facing for as long as possible is the safer option:
First, rear-facing is the safest position for a child in the event of a car crash. Research studies state, “[Children] in [the] second year of life are 5 times less likely to die or be seriously injured in a crash if restrained rear-facing.” This alone should encourage you to choose rear-facing for as long as possible despite the convenience front-facing seats may provide.
2. Head Protection
A rear-facing seat is specifically designed to protect a child’s head. Young kids have a disproportionately larger and heavier head compared to the rest of their bodies. In a crash with a front-facing seat, the head moves abruptly forward, increasing the force on the neck. (Think of how bad whiplash can be for adults and then multiply that several times for children.) But with a rear-facing seat, the head moves with the seat, reducing the chances for neck and spinal injuries.
3. Bodily Protection
The protection for the head is probably the most obvious, but the rear-facing car seat also is designed to protect the whole body. Rear-facing only seats are engineered to absorb and distribute the impact of a crash throughout the shell of the seat. Essentially, the seat acts like a protective cradle or cocoon for the child. Since it’s not practical to keep them in a protective bubble all the time, this is the next best thing.
The Decision Is Up to You. Now You Know the Facts.
Ultimately, at the end of the day, everyone’s situation is different and it’s up to the individual parent to make the call as to when to place their child in a forward-facing seat. My goal here has been to share some of the things I’ve learned recently so that parents can make a more informed choice.
You’ve probably heard a lot of “home remedies” for different ailments like burns and a lot of these have left me shaking my head.
When I was a kid, do you know what my mom used to put on burns? Toothpaste! And then there are those folks who swear by putting butter on burns. Hopefully, no one is doing that anymore.
Kids Will Be Kids
I think we all know many of the burns that kids experience are preventable. And, of course, kids will be kids.
Even though we try our best, it’s literally impossible to keep our eyes on our kiddos 100% of the time and keep them from getting into things that can burn them. Kids want to have fun and don’t always think about the consequences.
Study Reports Burns Are Fifth Most Common Cause of Accidental Death
The age group most affected are toddlers and young children (ages 4 and under). In fact, children 4 years old and younger who are hospitalized for burns are 65% likely to be the victims of scald burns with only 20% being from contact burns.
Watch Kids Around Water
Many of these scald burns come from hot tap water burns. Thankfully, regulations and the lack of open fires in homes have decreased burn injuries in the past thirty years. But they do still occur, no matter how much you try to stop them.
When dealing with burns, it can be difficult as there are so many different types and severity: thermal, electrical, and chemical burns and first-, second-, or third-degree burns. Even I have a hard time keeping track.
Determine If the Burn Is a
Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience any of these as a parent, but if you do, it’s important to keep calm and follow the steps.
If the burn is minor, a first-degree burn such as a sunburn where the skin is just reddened but still intact:
Cool the burn with cold compresses or cool water (NO ice!)
Cover the burn with a clean bandage
If you need to ease the pain of the burn, use over the counter pain meds. Also, aloe vera or burn gel can be applied for extra relief.
If the skin blisters, do not pop them. This may increase the chance of infection. Instead, just cover them and keep them clean.
See a Doctor for Any Other Type of Burn
In a child especially, the severity of the burn depends on the size and location of the burn. There’s actually a whole formula used to determine it, but I say keep it simple. If you have any doubt that it’s anything more than a minor first-degree burn, seek professional medical help ASAP. It’s better to be too careful than not careful enough!
Discuss Safety with Your Kids
With the Fourth of July festivities coming up, it’s a good idea to discuss safety around the grill, fireworks and other activities that may have a flammable element with your kids.
Hopefully, this helps to inform you a bit more if you are ever to have to deal with a burn to one of your children. Just remember, please, NO toothpaste!