Back To School – Leave the Draw-String Jackets at Home

A new school year has started. My boys will be attending full-time preschool this year. They went to an 8-week summer school program and loved it, so we are all very excited! I found another article on draw-string jackets/shirts and their relation to playground accidents. The last article I posted caught my attention and I wanted to share it with my readers. Just to reinterate….please leave the draw-strings at home while on playgrounds or just be very ‘present’ while watching your little ones.
Have a great school year!

Playground Safety Paramount (Peabody Gazette-Bulletin, Kansas)
August 26
Playground accidents are one of the leading causes of injury to children in elementary schools. Each year, in the United States, more than 200,000 children receive emergency department care for injuries that occurred on playground equipment.
The leading cause of deaths related to playgrounds and playground equipment is strangulation. Approximately 15 children per year die from playground-related injuries such as strangulation when a piece of loose clothing or jewelry gets caught on equipment or the child’s head gets stuck between climbing bars.
Falls are the leading cause of playground-related injuries. According to Cherie Sage, state director for Safe Kids Kansas, a child who falls 10 feet is at risk of spinal cord injury, paralysis, or death. Protective surface materials can be the difference between life and death.
“The ground should be covered 12 inches deep with shredded rubber, hardwood fiber mulch, or fine sand, extending at least six feet in all directions around the equipment,” Sage said.
Even with proper surfacing, teachers and playground monitors need to keep kids in sight and in reach on the playground.
“Simply being in the same place as the children is not necessarily supervising,” Sage said.
For outdoor play, children’s clothing and outerwear should be free of drawstrings and should fit snugly to minimize the risk of getting stuck in a piece of equipment.
For more information about playground safety, call 785-296-1223 or visit

Dyanne Houlihan
My Lil’ Monkeys
Don’t Roll Without One!

Two Additional Infant Deaths Prompt Re-announcement of Simplicity “Close-Sleeper/Bedside Sleeper” Bassinets

I never had a bedside bassinet. I always used the pack-n-play for my two boys. I found this article on Safe Kids USA. They send out a monthly email on product recalls. You can sign up at their website. Of course not all recalls are due to deaths, but I like to post the most dangerous in hopes to prevent any more unnecessary deaths. I would post the entire article, but it is quite lengthy due to several photos of the product. You can read it here: Two Additional Infant Deaths Prompt Re-announcement of Simplicity “Close-Sleeper/Bedside Sleeper” Bassinets. Please pass this on to any and all new mothers you may know.

Dyanne Houlihan
My Lil’ Monkeys, LLC
Don’t Roll Without One!

‘Product-Related’ Injuries

I have to be honest.  I purchased my two boys a bunk bed set about 5 months ago.  My eldest is 4 years old, turning 5 this October, and sleeps in the top bunk.  My youngest is 3 1/2 and sleeps on the lower, twin size bed.  We always have to place large stuffed animals along the edge of the bottom bunk as my youngest is a sleep roller!  But he has yet to totally fall out.  He has been found in the ‘prayer’ position once or twice, half off the bed, knees on the floor and torso and head resting nicely on the bed.  Too cute!

We purchased a bunk bed as we live in a two bedroom house at the moment and they share a room.  We set ground rules prior to the purchase and we reviewed the rules once we received and assembled the bed.  No jumping or bouncing on either bed (especially the top bunk); no hanging from the top bunk; no hanging any toys, ropes, whips, etc from the top bunk; only one person going up/down the ladder at a time; use only the ladder to get up/down from the top bunk; no jumping from the top bunk or the ladder; am I forgetting any??  I will say, I did research the bed we purchased for several weeks.  I wanted to make sure that it was very stable.  I was happy with our final purcahse.

I did want to share this article with you.  It was included in the Safe Kids Digest late May.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to follow the suggested rule of waiting until your child is 6-years old to purchase them a bunk bed.  However, I believe that my husband and I communicate very well with our boys and they understand the possible dangers this product can encompass.  Let me know what you think!

Dyanne Houlihan
My Lil’ Monkeys, LLC
Don’t Roll Without One!

Bunk Beds, TVs Causing Injuries to Children (The Globe and Mail, Canada)

May 25 / André Picard

Almost half of all pediatric injuries are ‘product-related,’ meaning they involve common household items

More than 18,000 children a year are treated in emergency rooms for injuries caused by the use and misuse of common household items like bunk beds, televisions, fridge magnets and backyard swings, according to a new report.

“There are certain stories that I’ve heard 100 times,” said Angelo Mikrogianakis, an ER doctor at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

“Kids aren’t playing with dad’s chainsaw. What’s bringing them to hospital – often with serious injuries – is regular daily activities involving things we take for granted like furniture and TVs,” he said.

Dr. Mikrogianakis, himself the father of three young children, said he is in no way suggesting that children should not be doing “fun stuff like jumping on the bed,” only that parents should be aware of the risks and try to minimize them.

The new report, from Safe Kids Canada, notes that almost half of all pediatric injuries are “product-related,” meaning they involve common household items. The risks, and the injuries, are clearly delineated by age group:

Age 0 to 4 years is the time in which falls from furniture pose the most common danger. Toddlers and young children like to get up on tables, chairs, sofas and beds. Bunk beds are one of the most common causes of injury in young children, and it is recommended that children not be on the top bunk before age 6.

Age 5 to 9 is the developmental period when children like to climb and they will sometimes climb on dressers, wall units, book cases and water coolers, all of which can topple. In recent years, there has been a marked increase in children being injured by toppling big-screen TVs. Televisions should always be on low, sturdy furniture and bookcases secured to the wall.

Age 10 to 14, when children are more independent and mobile, sees them injured principally on backyard play equipment like swings and slides. It is recommended that such play structures be surrounded by soft surfaces such as sand or wood chips to cushion falls.

“Children are a lot more vulnerable than most parents think,” said Pamela Fuselli, executive director of Safe Kids Canada. “There are a lot of hidden dangers in and around the home.”

Ms. Fuselli said the injury-prevention group is not suggesting that children live in a protective cocoon, but rather that parents should try to look at the home through a child’s eyes and take simple precautions to eliminate temptations that could lead to injuries.

“We’re not suggesting that children are never going to have bumps and bruises – of course they are. What we’re talking about is preventing deaths and serious injuries that land children in emergency rooms,” she said.

Ms. Fuselli said many parents wrongly assume that household products are all regulated and inherently safe.

Noreen Popelas describes herself as the “kind of mom who was very safety-conscious – I even had the Kiddie Proofers come in and do an assessment of my home.”

But in December, 2007, she turned her back for a moment and her then five-year-old daughter Maia climbed up onto a chair to grab something from the mantelpiece that had caught her eye.

The little girl tumbled and landed on the glass window of the gas fireplace, suffering second-degree burns on her hands.

Like many parents whose children are injured in the home, Ms. Popelas was racked by guilt over the incident. “Things like fireplaces become part of the scenery. You don’t see the risks that are right in front of your nose,” she said.

Ms. Popelas is now actively lobbying to have the standards for fireplace glass changed so that, like kitchen stoves, there is no risk of a child being burned. She is also urging parents to reassess the risks around their home routinely as their children grow.

“I don’t pretend to be the poster mom for safety, but we can at least try to reduce the risks for our kids.”

Designated ‘Water Watcher’

For me, one of the most scary situations I can be placed in is being around water with my two little ones.  I don’t know why, but ever since they were born, I have always been on pins and needles while around pools, spas, lakes, rivers and the ocean.  I do not understand parents that do not have some type of fencing or gate around a pool or spa.  It is simply unbelievable to me.  In fact, at a birthday party for a 2-year old, the pool was wide open, completely available to any wandering child.  I sat there clinging onto my then 1 and 2-year olds, alone with no husband or mate to assist me.  We left early.  Am I crazy?  I don’t think so.  The numbers, to me, are staggering and places drowning as the second highest cause of unintentional death for children between the ages of 1 to 4 and 10 to 14. 

I am getting better as they get older (now ages 3 and 4), but I am still very aware of their location and actions.  I found this article to be very informative as it offers some recommendations while around water with little ones.  In fact, you can even download a free ‘Designated Water Watcher Badge’!  Pretty neat  :)

My Lil’ Monkeys, LLC
Don’t Roll Without One!

Watch Your Children Around Water (University of Kentucky News, Kentucky)


May 18 / Mary Margaret Colliver
LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 18, 2009)It’s a warm summer day and you’re at the beach with your kids. Your cell phone rings and you answer it, shifting your focus from your kids to the conversation. Good idea? Not at all, according to Safe Kids Fayette County, and it could even be deadly. Children can get into trouble in a matter of seconds when around water, so Safe Kids Fayette County recommends that parents actively supervise – with their eyes on their kids at all times – when they are in or near water.

Drowning is the second highest cause of unintentional death for children ages 1 to 4 and 10 to 14.  Approximately 3 out of 4 pool submersion deaths and 3 out of 5 pool submersion injuries occur at a home pool. Overall, approximately 830 children ages 14 and under die each year due to unintentional drownings, and on average, there are an estimated 3,600 injuries to children after near-drowning incidents each year.

“Kids drown quickly and quietly,” said Sherri Hannan, coordinator of Safe Kids Fayette County.  “A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help. The most important precaution for parents is active supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising.”

Even a near-drowning incident can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may have brain damage. After four to six minutes under water, the damage is usually irreversible. Although 90 percent of parents say they supervise their children while swimming, many acknowledge that they engage in other distracting activities at the same time – talking, eating, reading or taking care of another child.

“A supervised child is in sight at all times with your undivided attention focused on the child,” said Hannan.

When there are children in or near the water, adults should take turns serving as the designated “Water Watcher,” paying undivided attention. Download a free Water Watcher badge.

One of the most horrific ways for a child to be injured or killed in a pool or hot tub is entrapment. On Dec. 19, 2007, President Bush signed the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act into law. The law is named for the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III. Graeme died tragically in 2002 at the age of 7 after being trapped under water due to the suction from a spa drain.

The law makes it illegal to manufacture, distribute or sell drain covers that do not adhere to the standards for anti-entrapment safety set by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The act also requires public pools and spas to be equipped with these anti-entrapment drain covers as well as a device to disable the drain in the event of an entrapment. Another important component of the law is that it establishes a grant program to reward states that adopt comprehensive laws mandating certain safety devices for all pools and spas.  Additionally, the law creates a national drowning prevention education program and media campaign administered by the CPSC.  For additional information, go to the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act Advocacy Web Page on the Safe Kids site.

To help keep kids safe this pool season, Safe Kids Fayette County recommends these precautions:

  • Always actively supervise children in and around water. Don’t leave, even for a moment. Stay where you can see, hear and reach kids in water. Avoid talking on the phone, preparing a meal, reading and other distractions
  • If you have a pool or spa, or if your child visits a home that has a pool or spa, it should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence at least five feet high with gates that close and latch automatically. Studies estimate that this type of isolation fencing could prevent 50 percent to 90 percent of child drownings in residential pools. 
  • A pool or spa should be equipped with an anti-entrapment drain cover and a safety vacuum release system to prevent children from being caught in the suction of the drain. The powerful suction forces can trap a child underwater or cause internal injuries.
  • Don’t leave toys in or near the pool, where they could attract unsupervised kids. For extra protection, consider a pool alarm and alarms on the doors, windows and gates leading to the pool. 
  • Enroll your kids in swimming lessons around age 4, but don’t assume swimming lessons make your child immune to drowning. There is no substitute for active supervision. 
  • Don’t rely on inflatable swimming toys such as “water wings” and noodles. If your child can’t swim, stay within an arm’s reach.
  • Learn infant and child CPR. In less than two hours, you can learn effective interventions that can give a fighting chance to a child whose breathing and heartbeat have stopped. Contact your area hospital, fire department or recreation department for information about local CPR classes.
  • Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers by the pool.

These guidelines apply to inflatable and portable pools, not just in-ground pools. A child can drown in just an inch of water. Kiddie pools should be emptied and stored out of reach when not in use.

For more information about drowning and water safety, call Safe Kids Fayette County at (859) 323-1153.

Safe Kids Fayette County works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under. Its members include health and safety experts, educators, community leaders, corporations, foundations, and government representatives, and volunteers to educate and protect families. Safe Kids Fayette County is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations dedicated to preventing accidental injury. Safe Kids Fayette County was founded in 1994 and is led by Kentucky Children’s Hospital.


Bike Helmets: A Necessity, Not An Accessory

I found a short,  informative article in my weekly email from Safe Kids USA on how to choose the correct helmet for your child.   It even includes a 1-minute ‘How To’ video.  The steps are simple and easy to remember when shopping for that new helmet.  Check it out at

Happy (and safe!) bike trips!

My Lil’ Monkeys, LLC
Don’t Roll Without One! 

Spring time…I love it

Hummingbird nest

A few days ago while at our computer, my husband told the kids, “Hey look!  There is a hummingbird flying in and out of our tree!”  As the days went by, I noticed that the same hummingbird would frequent that tree outside of our window and I thought maybe there was a nest!  I was so excited as we already spied a robin’s nest at our park that we frequent and this would make two nests that we could watch this spring!  And it is a HUMMINGBIRD’S nest!!  Have you ever seen one?  Well, I hadn’t so I had to invesitgate.  Sure enough, so delicately balancing on a tiny branch, there it was, a tiny, mud casted bowl.  The first time I looked I was a little nervous about disrupting the home as the hummingbird was flying nearby.  But as the days have gone by, I just had to check and see if there were any eggs inside.  Sure enough, two tiny jelly-bean sized eggs lay inside. 

I captured this photo today while it was raining.  I haven’t seen the hummingbird all day, and I hope that it returns.  I will keep an eye on this new beginning and post new photos once the little hummingbirds are born.

Dyanne Houlihan
My Lil’ Monkeys, LLC
Don’t Roll Without One!     

Age Appropriate Safety Recommendations

This week is Safe Kids Week.  I found a very informative article released by Safe Kids USA, a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under.  The article below provides age appropriate safety tips, providing a  blueprint of necessary safety recommendations for parents and caregivers to follow as children age.  I found it very interesting and informative. 

Connecting the Dots: For the First Time a Safety Report Links Research on a Child’s Development and the Risk of Unintentional Injury With Age-Appropriate Safety Recommendations (PR Newswire)

April 27 / Safe Kids USA

WASHINGTON, April 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A study of child development and unintentional injury released today by Safe Kids USA is the first to link age-appropriate safety tips to an extensive analysis of research on children’s cognitive, behavioral and physical development. The results create a blueprint of necessary safety recommendations for parents and caregivers to follow as children age.

“We’ve always taught parents how to keep their kids safe, but this report highlights precisely when and why those precautions are essential,” says Martin Eichelberger, M.D., founder of Safe Kids Worldwide and former chief of Trauma and Burn Services, Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “Understanding children’s cognitive, behavioral and physical abilities and limitations at various stages is the first step in being able to foresee and prevent serious injuries.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than six million unintentional injuries to children ages 0 to 14 in 2007 that required care in an emergency room. This translates into 12 injuries per minute – nearly all of which are preventable. Although the childhood injury death rate in the U.S. has dropped by 45 percent in the 22 years Safe Kids has been in operation, unintentional injury remains the leading cause of death and disability in children ages 1 to 14 in the U.S.

The release of this report, Raising Safe Kids: One Stage at a Time, coincides with the kick-off to National Safe Kids Week and is based on an extensive literature review of research focusing on child development as it relates to unintentional injury. The report is divided into four stages of development: Infancy (0 to 12 months), Early Childhood (1 to 4 years), Middle Childhood (5 to 9 years) and Early Adolescence (10 to 14 years).

Each stage includes a description of a child’s development at that age, and easy-to-follow safety tips for the five leading injury risks to children: falls, bicycle-related injuries, motor vehicle occupancy injuries, fire and burns and poisonings.

The report was funded by an educational grant from Johnson & Johnson. Johnson and Johnson is also the founding sponsor of Safe Kids Worldwide and National Safe Kids Week.

Some highlights from the report:

Did you know that infants…?

Have spines that are not fully developed, leaving them vulnerable to injury if they are not correctly positioned in a vehicle. They have a slower digestion rate and a lower tolerance for medication. Their skin is thinner and more sensitive, meaning it can burn more quickly than that of an adult. To keep your infant safer:

  • Use a rear-facing, semi-reclined car seat until your baby is at least age 1 and 20 pounds. Use a rear-facing car seat longer if the seat has higher weight and height limits.
  • Always follow directions and read labels when giving your baby medicine to avoid over-medicating.
  • Do not hold an infant while cooking or carrying hot liquids and foods.

Did you know that children 1 to 4 years old…?

Have muscles and bones not yet fully developed. They are also still learning how to balance themselves and adjust their stance to avoid falls. They may wander off unsupervised to explore cupboards and drawers that may contain chemicals and poisons in them. To keep your 1-to 4-year old safer:

  • Provide safe places to play. Only allow your child to play on playgrounds with 12 inches of safe surfaces such as shredded rubber, hardwood fiber/mulch or fine sand below the equipment to create a softer landing in case of a fall.
  • Install stair gates so your curious child will not fall down stairs, and secure furniture to the wall to avoid it tipping over on them if they try to climb on it.
  • Keep medicines and poisonous household items locked up and out of reach. Also, choose products with child-resistant packaging.

Did you know that children 5 to 9 years old…?

Have trouble recognizing and avoiding obstacles and lack an adult’s hand-eye coordination abilities. They are also at higher risk for cooking-related scald injuries, especially from tableware and microwave ovens. If a child is too small for a seat belt, he/she is at risk for serious injuries to the head, face and internal organs. To keep your 5- to 9-year old safer:

  • Make sure children wear a helmet and protective gear every time they are on wheels.
  • Do not allow children to use a microwave until they are tall enough to reach the items in it safely and understand that steam can cause burns. Children at this age are at a higher risk of cooking-related scald injuries than adults.
  • Keep children in booster seats with the vehicle lap and shoulder safety belts until the seat belt fits correctly.

Did you know that early adolescents…?

Have less defined visual perception than older teens and lack the ability to recognize a specific object from within a busy background. This is an important skill to identify oncoming cars in busy intersections. They are more likely to be completely unrestrained in a car than younger children and participate in risky behavior. They also may want to experiment with substances without adult supervision. To keep your 10- to 14-year old safer:

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet and protective gear every time he/she is on a bike, scooter, skateboard or inline skates – make this non-negotiable and lead by example.
  • Talk to them about car safety. Once your child passes the Safety Belt Fit Test, teach him/her to wear a seat belt every time.
  • Talk to your child about the dangers of poisonous items such as gasoline, spray paint and medicines.

“Your child’s physical, behavioral and cognitive abilities should affect the precautions you take to help them avoid serious injury,” Eichelberger said. “Serious injuries have effects lasting well into adulthood, such as spinal cord injuries, brain damage and other physical handicaps, which also lead to costly emergency department bills, missed school days, and limited future employment and life opportunities. But the good news is, these injuries can be prevented if parents and caregivers take the right steps.”

National Safe Kids Week runs from April 26 to May 3, 2009. For information about Safe Kids Week events taking place in your community or for a copy of the Raising Safe Kids: One Stage at a Time report please visit

Safe Kids USA is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent unintentional childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under. Safe Kids works in 17 countries to bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families. Safe Kids Worldwide was founded in 1987 by Children’s National Medical Center with support from Johnson & Johnson. 119,500 employees at more than 250 Johnson & Johnson companies work with partners in health care to touch the lives of over a billion people every day, throughout the world.