Playground Safety

Monday, April 30, 2012

How can I keep my child safe on the playground? First, check if play equipment is safe. Ask yourself the following questions: • Is the equipment the right size? For example, smaller swings are for smaller children and can break if larger children use them. • Is the play equipment installed correctly and according to the manufacturer's directions? • Can children reach any moving parts that might pinch or trap any body part? • What's underneath the equipment? The best way to prevent serious injuries is to have a surface that will absorb impact when children land on it. This is especially needed under and around swings, slides, and climbing equipment. • Is wooden play equipment free of splinters and nails or screws that stick out? Here are some other things to check for. Climbing structures • Platforms higher than 30 inches above the ground intended for use by school-aged children should have guardrails or barriers to prevent falls. • Vertical and horizontal spaces should be less than 3½ inches wide or more than 9 inches wide. This is to keep a small child's head from getting trapped. • Rungs, stairs, and steps should be evenly spaced. • Round rungs to be gripped by young hands should be about 1 to 1½ inches in diameter. Slides • Slides should be placed in the shade or away from the sun. Metal slides can get very hot from the sun and burn a child's hands and legs. Plastic slides are better because they do not get as hot, but they should still be checked before using. • Slides should have a platform with rails at the top for children to hold. There should be a guardrail, hood, or other device at the top of the slide that requires the child to sit when going down the slide. Open slides should have sides at least 4 inches high. • Make sure there are no rocks, glass, sticks, toys, debris, or other children at the base of a slide. These could get in the way of a child landing safely. The cleared area in front of the slide should extend a distance equal to the height of the slide platform, with a minimum of 6 feet and a maximum of 8 feet cleared. Swings • Swings should be clear of other equipment. Make sure there is a distance in front of and behind a swing that is twice the height of the suspending bar. • Swing seats should be made of soft materials such as rubber, plastic, or canvas. • Make sure open or "S" hooks on swing chains are closed to form a figure 8. • Walls or fences should be located at least 6 feet from either side of a swing structure. • Swing sets should be securely anchored according to the manufacturer's instructions to prevent tipping. Anchors should be buried deep enough so that children can't trip or fall over them. • Swings should not be too close together. There should be at least 24 inches between swings and no more than 2 seat swings (or 1 tire swing) in the same section of the structure. Remember, even with these measures, children still need to be watched closely while they are playing. Source: Playground Safety (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)

Consistent Bedtime May Give Kids Developmental Boost

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Preschoolers should routinely get at least 11 hours each night, experts say. Sticking to a regular bedtime and getting enough sleep may help young children score higher on tests of development, a new study suggests. Kids who had a consistent bedtime at the age of 4 scored higher on a number of tests, including some that measured literacy and math abilities. Earlier bedtimes and parental rules about keeping bedtime routines also were associated with higher scores on developmental measures. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that preschool children get at least 11 hours of sleep each night. Kids who got less than that had lower test scores, according to study author Erika Gaylor, a researcher with SRI International, a research institute in Menlo Park, Calif., and colleagues. "Getting parents to set bedtime routines can be an important way to make a significant impact on children's emergent literacy and language skills," Gaylor said in a news release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. "Pediatricians can easily promote regular bedtimes with parents and children, behaviors which in turn lead to healthy sleep." The study is based on responses from phone interviews with the parents of about 8,000 kids. The parents were interviewed when the children were 9 months old and again when they were 4 years old. The findings are scheduled to be released Monday at SLEEP 2010, the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies in San Antonio. More information The Nemours Foundation has tips for parents about kids and sleep. -- Randy Dotinga SOURCE: American Academy of Sleep Medicine, news release, June 7, 2010

STD’s…Parents it may be time to talk!

Monday, April 16, 2012

WebMD says young people are starting sex younger, and having more partners…and that is why more of them are getting STDs earlier. Is it time for one of many talks about STDs? OK, we all agree this is not a topic we WANT to discuss with our kids…BUT WE HAVE TO. It’s unlikely to come up on TV or in a song, so come prepared with hands-on pamphlets, or have the conversation at the computer. Here are some conversation starters: Did you know: 1. 1 in 4 teens have an STD? 2. People can pass it on, without even knowing they HAVE it? 3. STD’s in women can cause cancer OR make them infertile? 4. People are still dying from HIV/AIDS? 5. WebMD has some actual photos of STD, to look at together. It’s good to know MOST STDs (STI-infections) can be cured with medicine. And, WebMD has some good photos to look at together. But the best way to prevent is to not have any sexual contact. If couples are going to become sexually active, they can reduce their chances of getting an STD by: 1. Be abstinent for as long as possible or be in a monogamous relationship (both partners are each other’s only partner.) 2. Remember the more partners, the more risk. 3. Correctly and consistently use a male latex condom. 4. Have regular check-ups. 5. Learn the symptoms of STDs 6. Avoid having sex during menstruation. (HIV is passed more easily.) 7. Avoid anal sex or use a condom. 8. Avoid douching. It removes some natural protection. This and so much more information about this topic can be found at conditions/sexually-transmitted-diseases By Carol Cochard Pool, M.S.W.

April is National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Awareness Month

Monday, April 9, 2012

Supporting families by ensuring parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need is an effective way to protect children from the risk of child abuse and neglect. What do we know about protecting children? • When a parent treats a child with respect, love, and understanding, it affects the child for a lifetime—making it easier to develop and keep friendships, succeed in school and work, sustain a happy relationship, and parent effectively. • Unfortunately, many factors can limit parents' ability to protect and nurture their children. These can put families at risk for abuse and neglect. • Certain factors have been shown to serve as buffers against these risks, enhancing parents' coping skills and helping them to raise happy, healthy children, even under stress. • On average, children raised in households headed by two parents in a healthy relationship fare better than children who grow up in other family structures. What are the protective factors that promote healthy families?
The best thing our community can do to protect children is to support healthy families by promoting the following five protective factors: Nurturing and attachment Parents and caregivers who bond with and respond to the basic needs of their babies and young children lay the foundation for a positive and loving relationship. They also stimulate the growth of their child's brain and help their child learn how to interact in positive ways with others. Ways we can promote parental nurturing and attachment during Child Abuse Prevention Month: • Sponsor a workshop on playing with infants and young children. • Provide quiet, private places for mothers to breastfeed and tend to their babies' needs. • Organize a weekend play group for dads. • Recognize local businesses with family-friendly policies, such as flexible work schedules and maternity/paternity leave that give parents time to bond with their children. Knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development Helping parents learn about normal infant, childhood, and teen development will help them understand what to anticipate as their children grow and develop, and what types of support and discipline may work best at each stage. Ways we can enhance knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development: • Suggest parents speak to their children's doctor about any concerns, frustrations, or questions regarding behavior or development. • Ask your local school district or faith community to sponsor classes and support programs for new parents. • Organize a parenting club to discuss parenting books, websites, and other resources. • Educate childcare providers and teachers about key aspects of child development and the relationship between effective parenting and brain development. Parental resilience Parenting can be stressful, especially when parents are also managing work demands or unemployment, financial worries, illness, or difficulties with a spouse or others. Parents who have support and skills for managing stress will be better able to cope with day-to-day challenges. Ways we can strengthen parental resilience: • Organize a neighborhood group that will rotate cooking a meal or performing light housework for new parents and other families under stress. • Start a neighborhood "work out" group, where families can exercise and have fun together. • Teach a communication class for couples. • Provide brochures and other resources for teachers and childcare providers to share with parents who are under significant stress. Social connections For most of us, family, friends, and neighbors form a network that provides social interaction, recreation, advice, and help. When parents have the opportunity to interact with, learn from, and seek the support of other adults, their children benefit. Ways we can build social connections in our community: • Sponsor multigenerational activities like picnics and street fairs that reflect the community's culture through music, food, and games. Involve parents in organizing these events. • Help recruit volunteers for mentoring programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. • Provide venues for young families to meet and socialize, such as libraries, parks, and preschools. Concrete supports for parents When parents are not employed or face other challenges, they may need assistance in order to provide adequate food, clothing, housing, and medical care for their children. These supports may reduce the stress parents feel in difficult circumstances, giving them more energy to nurture and support their children. Ways we can promote concrete supports: • Provide information on how to access housing, health care, or employment assistance. • Educate candidates and elected officials about issues in your community and the need for services and programs that support healthy and safe children and families. • Encourage service providers to collaborate, leverage funding, and share resources to address specific needs. Anything you do to support kids and parents in your family and community helps reduce the likelihood of child abuse and neglect.