Browsing Tag

safety

Children's, Health and Safety

Preventing Dog Bites

Most children don’t think a cuddly dog would ever hurt them, but the fact is about 4.7 million dog bites happen every year in the United States, and more than half occur in children under the age of 14. Sometimes it may be just an innocent nip, but often these dog bites result in a child going to the hospital and even having surgery. Experts at Children’s of Alabama want parents to know that teaching kids about dog safety early on can help prevent the majority of these incidents.

Any Dog Can Bite

Dr. Bert Gaddis of Indian Springs Animal Clinic offers a better understanding of what may cause a dog to bite. Gaddis says first and foremost, it’s important to realize that any dog has the potential to bite. “Any dog no matter the breed or how sweet them seem can be pushed to that point unknowingly”, Gaddis says, “I tell pet owners with children, who probably feel very good around your pet, teach them not to approach strange animals. If it’s a dog with an owner, ask permission to pet that dog.”

Gaddis also says sometimes aggression in animals may be breed related, or even how the dog is raised. If the animal is raised to be defensive, or is often engaged in rough play, the dog may perceive a stranger as a threat even when that stranger is a child. Sometimes dog bites occur when the dog is feeding, and is very territorial around food.  But even the nicest, most well-trained family dog may snap if it’s startled, scared, threatened, agitated, angry or hungry.  And remember, even a small dog can have a dangerous bite.

In the event your child is around an unfamiliar dog, here are some tips to follow:

Interacting with an Unknown Dog:

  • Teach your child to ask the dog’s owner for permission to pet their dog
  • If the owner says yes, move slowly
  • Allow the dog to see and sniff before petting
  • Keep fingers together
  • Avoid sudden, jerky motions

The state of Alabama has had a leash law in place since 1915, but local municipalities have the authority to have their own ordinances to better reflect the needs of the community.

Still, keep in mind, just because there may be a leash law, that doesn’t mean your child won’t encounter a roaming dog without a leash.   It’s important to teach your child to know how to respond when they are approached by a strange dog.

When Approached by a Strange Dog:

Dr. Gaddis offers these important tips if you or your child has an encounter with a strange dog:

  • Don’t Run
  • Don’t Scream
  • Don’t Make Eye Contact
  • Don’t Turn Your Back
  • Back Away Slowlu
  • If a dog does try to bite, put anything you can between you and the dog.
  • If knocked over by a dog, roll into a ball, cover your face and lie still.

Always Supervise

A lot of dog bites can be avoided with parental supervision.  Never leave a child alone with a dog.  And teach children to never tease an animal. Being safe and responsible around dogs is the first step in preventing a dog bite.

Health and Safety

Holiday Toy Safety

There’s nothing quite like the face of a child unwrapping their gifts on Christmas morning. Whether it’s a new bike or a favorite doll, toys are on every child’s wish list. As parents, we have just as much fun shopping for the perfect gift! But before you run to the toy store, you’ll want to be sure the toys you buy are safe for your child. Every year thousands of children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for toy related injuries.

In order to keep kids safe, you should always ask yourself:

1 – Is this toy safe?

Choking is a particular risk for children three and younger, because they tend to put objects in their mouths. Dr. Terri Coco is an emergency room physician at Children’s of Alabama and an injury prevention expert. She says a good rule of thumb when shopping for younger children, is to see if any pieces of the toy can fit into the tube of a roll of toilet paper. If so, then that toy is a choking hazard. She also points out that even small pieces that are attached to the toy can break off and become a choking hazard for a small child.

Avoid toys with:

  • Small parts
  • Sharp edges
  • Gears
  • Exposed wires
  • Hinges
  • Long strings
  • Magnets
  • Small batteries

2 – Is this toy developmentally appropriate for my child?

Dr. Coco also suggests parents only purchase age appropriate toys for their children. For instance, a bottle of bubbles or a paint set may be fun for an older child to play with, but each could be dangerous if consumed by a younger child. Be sure to read the labels on game and toys and adhere to the age recommendations listed.

3 – Is this toy age appropriate for my child?

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) closely monitors and regulates toys. Any toys made in, or imported into the United States after 1995 must comply with CPSC standards. Remember parental supervision is always key around small children. Be careful that younger siblings don’t have access to toys belonging to their big brother or big sister.

Tips for parents with infants, toddlers and preschoolers:

  • Make sure toys are large enough that they can’t be swallowed (use the toilet paper roll test to be sure).
  • Toys should have soft, smooth edges and no sharp points. Toys should be safe enough to withstand chewing.
  • No strings
  • Avoid toys with batteries

By keeping these tips in mind, you can ensure the toys found under your tree will be safe and bring years of enjoyment to your child. For the latest information on toy recalls, check the CPSC website at www.cpsc.gov.