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Healthy Living covers lifestyle and community awareness events and activities around Bucks County, PA, with guest columns by authors from local health, fitness and social services organizations.

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Proactive Parenting

by Randi Leifer, RN

The essence of proactivity lies in taking the responsibility to focus on the things in our lives we can actually do something about.

When was the last time you saved a life? If you have young children at home, you probably saved some lives yesterday and again today, even though you never gave it a second thought. Every time you replaced the child-resistant cap on the medicine bottle or reinserted an electrical outlet safety "plug," you were saving the lives of your loved ones. It always hurts to see young children cry, but it's worse when the "accident" could have been prevented.

In the headlines and on newscasts, we're hearing lots of concern about school bus safety and TV violence. And while the installation of seat belts on buses and teaching children appropriate ways to deal with life's disappointments is certainly worth further consideration, parents should keep the matter in perspective with the other pressing issues that affect children's safety, from unprotected electrical outlets and working batteries in smoke detectors to the matches on coffee tables, and yes . . . to the guns in the closets. These dangers, which we can work individually and collectively to alleviate, pose a far greater threat to our children. INJURIES ARE THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH TO YOUNG CHILDREN IN THE UNITED STATES!

The sad fact is that as long as adults don't take reasonable and rational steps to keep their children safe, these tragedies will continue to occur. We, as a society, believe the false notion that "accidents just happen." Injuries are erroneously referred to as "accidents" because they occur so quickly, and appear to be uncontrollable. But by removing "known" hazards, and with careful adult supervision, most of these injuries are preventable. It's easy for all of us to get so caught up in the pressing demands of the everyday life that parents can lose sight of the simple steps they can take to keep their children safe. But it is something that parents must remember to do!

This year, 20.6 million children will be hurt seriously enough to require medical attention. Each year, injuries lead to over 10 million emergency room visits and 360,000 hospitalizations. Most unintentional childhood injuries happen in a matter of seconds and often come in innocent and unexpected forms. Ninety percent of these injuries are PREVENTABLE. Parents are the number one safety feature that come with any child. Detecting and correcting known safety hazards makes children less vulnerable to injury, disability, or preventable death; it also reduces health care costs. The price of an injured child is greater than anyone can pay. A new study pegs the cost of common childhood injury at $347 billion dollars. These chilling statistics have triggered a call for action.

Until now, there has been little done to prevent unintentional childhood injuries. That was then, but this is now. An innovative new program can now help prevent these needless tragedies. As a parent, you have the enormous task of trying to keep your little ones safe. Now there is help at hand, both for new parents and those who want to continue making their household a "child safe" environment.

What is this remarkable program, you ask? It is the As Safe As Possible Campaign, the official sponsor of National Childhood Injury Prevention Week (NCIPW). And the organization has just relocated its national headquarters to Bucks County! Give your home the following quick safety checkup; it only takes a minute.

QUICK HOME SAFETY CHECKUP

Here is a simple safety checklist to help make your home "as safe as possible."

POISONING

  • Lock dangerous items such as medicines, household cleaners, health and beauty aids out of your child's reach.
  • Containers should be child resistant, and always re-closed properly.

DROWNING

Small children should NEVER be left unattended near any of the following, which are ALL potentially hazardous:
  • pools, toilets, bathtubs, showers, hot tubs, diaper pails, and outside pails!

FIRES and BURNS

  • Keep children a safe distance from the stove at ALL times, especially when cooking!
  • Lock up matches and lighters.
  • All homes should be equipped with smoke detectors & fire extinguishers. Check the batteries!
  • Be CAREFUL with bath water temperature.

CHOKING

  • Check the entire house for small objects that can pose a choking threat.

FALLS

  • Secure all windows, doors, tops and bottoms of stairways, loose rugs and floor coverings. Remove ALL tripping hazards.
  • Make sure all paths are well lit.
  • ALL surfaces in bathrooms should be non-slip.

ELECTRICAL

  • Cover unused electrical outlets with an appropriate device.
  • Keep plugs "locked," and secure cords to baseboards to prevent tripping.

STRANGULATION/SUFFOCATION

  • Make sure that there are no cords, wires, or strings longer than 10".
  • Keep plastic wraps, dry cleaning bags and garbage bags away from children.

Note: This checklist is by no means complete. But it is a good place to start.

Parents can receive a 4-page "NOBOOBOOS" Home Safety Checklist by sending a $2.00 donation and a SASE to:

The As Safe As Possible Campaign
P.O. Box 715, Richboro, PA 18954.


The As Safe As Possible Campaign's Executive Director, nationally-recognized child safety expert and "KIDsultant" Randi Leifer, has taken on the enormous task of trying to reach and educate as many parents as possible to prevent childhood injuries. You can contact the As Safe As Possible Campaign for more information on organizing the observance of National Childhood Injury Prevention Week, the first week of September, in your family, school, or community. Corporations/employers can request information on participation and sponsorship at: NOBOOBOOS@AsSafeAsPossible.org.



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