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Your Child

Kids: Safe Lawn Care

2:00

This is the time of year when kids are most likely to be playing in the yard. Daylight hours are longer and winter’s chill is fading fast or gone.  It’s also the time when insects and weeds make an appearance, demanding some type of control.

All pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides are toxic on some level. Along with killing pests and weeds, they can also harm you, your children, your pets, and any wildlife on your lawn.

Researchers have noted that young children are especially at risk from pesticides. Their bodies and immune systems are still developing. They are also more likely to spend time outside on the lawn, playing or crawling and coming in contact with any pesticides used there.

As population growth and sub-division building increases, these chemicals have increased in usage.

 However, pesticides, herbicides and insecticides are not the only ways to have a welcoming lawn and insect control. If you must use some pesticides, you can help keep your family safe by using them with care, and only when needed.

Lawn care starts with the basics. When your lawn is healthy, there’s less of a chance for weeds and pests. Pests often mean that the soil is lacking nutrients. Without healthy soil, grass and other plants have a harder time growing and staying healthy. A soil test will tell you what the pH level is and whether your soil needs extra nutrients. Most grasses do best in a soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If you find that your soil needs help or a pH adjustment, you can add nutrients as needed.

Compost is a healthier option for adding nutrients than many chemical fertilizers. Most lawns can use a good fertilizing at least once a year. You can top-dress with a quarter- to a half-inch of compost. Or look for fertilizer that's labeled "slow release" or "natural organic" fertilizer.

A soil test will tell you what the pH level is and whether your soil needs extra nutrients. Most grasses do best in a soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If you find that your soil needs help or a pH adjustment, you can add nutrients as needed.

You can also do online research about what kind of grass grows best in your part of the country. County extension offices often have an abundance of material on grasses, flowers and tree types that your area is compatible with and need less watering.

Mowing can have a dramatic effect on lawns. By leaving your grass a little longer -- usually between 2 ½ and 3 ½ inches -- you can usually improve your lawn's health. This is because the leaves of longer grass have more access to sunlight, which helps the grass grow thicker and create deeper roots.

Longer grass is better for your soil, since it provides more shade and helps the soil retain moisture. It also makes it more difficult for weeds to grow.

When pests appear, many experts agree that integrated pest management (IPM) is the most effective and environmentally friendly way to control pests. Basically, this means using holistic ways to treat pests when possible, such as mowing your lawn higher to shade out weeds or planting more disease-resistant types of grasses or plants, and only using pesticides when needed.

Here are a few suggestions to try before you reach for the pesticide:

- Give nature a little time to work. Damaged parts of your lawn may bounce back over time. And most lawn and garden pests have natural enemies that will help control pests. For example, ladybugs and praying mantises eat other bugs while not damaging your lawn or garden.

- Pull out weeds using a long-handled weed puller. It's usually easier than by hand.

- Vinegar can also be used to kill weeds.

- Mulch garden beds to prevent weeds.

- Remove diseased plants so the problem doesn't spread.

If you do decide to use a pesticide, follow these guidelines to help keep your family safe:

- Make sure you know what kind of pest you're dealing with so you can choose the right type of pesticide. Your local extension agent or other local lawn expert can help you identify the problem. There are also organic lawn and pest care companies.

- Don't treat the whole lawn if it’s unnecessary. Use pesticides just where you have the problem.

- Read the label on the pesticide carefully and follow the instructions.

- Wear gloves, and long pants and sleeves while using the pesticide to protect your skin. Wash clothing separately before wearing them again.

- Keep children and pets away from the area for the time recommended on the label.

- If you hire a lawn care service, find one that uses an IPM approach to lawn care or uses organic or chemical-free processes.

Fleas and ticks are some of the most annoying pests during summer and can be difficult to control. 

Fleas and ticks prefer a moist environment. Overwatering is an invitation to these pests. One of the safest ways to treat your yard is the application of Diatomaceous Earth (often just called DE). Diatomaceous earth, which is available at garden centers, is crushed rock that contains the fossilized remains of diatoms, an alga. The hard-shelled alga grates against the fleas and kills them mechanically, not chemically. Don’t buy the DE that is intended for pools; it has been chemically treated and isn’t for use around pets. DE is easy to use by sprinkling areas in the yard where fleas are likely to congregate, such as your dog’s favorite hangouts. Wear a filter mask when spreading the fine powder and keep your dog inside while treating the yard.

Another natural way to treat your yard is by using beneficial nematodes, microscopic round worms that are safe for your family and your pets. Along with fleas, nematodes kill weevils, crane flies, grubs, corn borers, and other vegetable garden pests. The nematodes are microscopic so you won’t see them; you’ll purchase them on a small sponge that contains about one million live nematodes, enough for about 3,000 square feet of yard space.

After soaking the sponge in water, you’ll spray the yard with the mixture. You can purchase the nematodes as far in advance as about a week prior to the yard application; just keep the package in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

Organic lawn care can be a little more laborious at the beginning, but as your soil becomes healthier– less and less time is needed to maintain it.

Having a safer lawn may mean that you learn to live with a weed or two. But even healthy lawns have a few weeds and pests. Knowing that your kids are safe when playing hide-and-seek or leapfrog should make any weeds that do pop up a little easier to tolerate.

Story sources: http://www.webmd.com/children/lawn-care#1

Paris Permenter, John Bigley http://www.petsafe.net/learn/10-ways-to-prevent-pests-naturally

 

Your Toddler

Anchor It!

1:45

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has launched “Anchor It”, a national public education campaign, to help make people aware of the dangers that free-standing furniture and TVs present, particularly to children.

The annual number of children injured or killed from furniture and TV tip-overs is astounding.

According to CPSC data, unstable and unsecured TVs and large pieces of furniture kill a child every two weeks, on average, in tip-over incidents that are easily preventable.  CPSC also reported that 38,000 Americans go to emergency rooms each year with injuries related to tip-overs of top-heavy furniture or televisions placed on furniture, instead of a TV stand.  Two-thirds of those injuries involved children younger than 5.  Additionally, between 2000 and 2013, 84 percent of the 430 deaths reported to CPSC involved children younger than 10.

A January 2015 CPSC report found that a television tipping over from an average size dresser falls with thousands of pounds of force. 

The impact of a falling TV is like being caught between two NFL linemen colliding at full-speed—10 times. 

“Every 24 minutes in the U.S. a child goes to the emergency room because of a tip-over incident involving furniture or a TV,” said CPSC Commissioners Marietta Robinson and Joseph Mohorovic. “We must take action now. CPSC’s new ‘Anchor It!’ campaign is a call to action for parents and caregivers to ‘get on top of it, before they do.’ If we can prevent one more death, it will be worth it.”

Cards and posters are being distributed parents and caregivers of toddlers at daycare centers and preschools. A list of safety steps parents and caregivers can take are printed on the handouts. They are:

·      Buy and install low-cost anchoring devices to prevent TVs, dressers, bookcases or other furniture from tipping.

·      Avoid leaving items, such as remote controls and toys, in places where kids might be tempted to climb up to reach for them.

·      Store heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.

·      Place TVs on a sturdy, low base and push them as far back as possible, particularly if anchoring is not possible.

·      If purchasing a new TV, consider recycling older ones not currently used. If moving the older TV to another room, be sure it is anchored properly to the wall.

The “Anchor It” campaign’s website (www.Anchorit.gov) shows you how to anchor furniture and television sets properly, with easy to follow instructions. Keep your little one safe and Anchor It!

 

Your Baby

How Safe is Your Baby’s Teething Ring?

1:30

Millions of American babies suck on teething rings to ease the discomfort of emerging teeth. Many of those rings contain banned chemicals that can be hazardous to their health, according to new study.

Researchers in the United States, who tested five-dozen baby teething rings, found all of them contained bisphenol-A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Studies in animals have shown that endocrine disruptors interfere with hormones and cause developmental, reproductive and neurological harm, according to the study authors.

Labeling on the teething rings was deceptive, with most of the products characterized as BPA-free or non-toxic. All of them contained BPA, the study found. BPA is banned from children's drinking utensils in the United States and much of Europe.

BPA was not the only banned chemical found; the rings that were tested also contained parabens and the antimicrobial agents triclosan and triclocarban, which are also endocrine disruptors, the researchers said.

"The findings could be used to develop appropriate policies to protect infants from exposure to potentially toxic chemicals found in teethers," said study author Kurunthachalam Kannan and colleagues from the N.Y. State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center.

Because babies suck on teething rings, the presence of potentially harmful chemicals on the surface is concerning, the researchers said. The study authors said this is especially true since they found that BPA and other chemicals leached out of the rings into water.

The 59 teething rings analyzed were purchased online in the United States and tested for 26 potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the researchers said.

There are alternatives to teething rings. Frozen mini-bagels, wet washcloths, silicone toys and wooden spoons are just a few examples. Never leave your baby unattended with any of these alternatives. While they are very effective, you should make sure to keep an eye on your little one anytime they have something in their mouth.

The results of the study were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Story source: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/environmental-health-information-12/chemical-health-news-730/is-that-baby-teether-safe-717512.html

 

 

Parenting

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

2:00

This is the time of year when accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning happens the most. For families in cold climates or dealing with disasters such as flooding, tornados or loss of electricity for long periods of time, gasoline powered generators or heaters can be a godsend. But they also require special care to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless toxic gas that is a product of the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. Unintentional carbon monoxide poisonings accounted for approximately 400 to 500 deaths (all ages) and more than 15,000 emergency department visits in the United States annually according to the AAP Council on Environmental Health.

Proper installation and maintenance for the use of combustion appliances can help to reduce excessive carbon monoxide emissions along with carbon monoxide detectors.

Many non-fires related CO poisonings come from automobiles left running in a closed garage- sending toxic fumes into the house.

Other ways carbon monoxide poisoning occurs may surprise you. Improperly maintained chimneys and flues can crack and leave a buildup that causes problems with venting CO fumes. Wood stoves that are not fitted correctly can leak CO into living rooms and bedrooms. Kerosene heaters reduce oxygen in rooms. They require good ventilation to operate safely. Carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide can be emitted from improper use of kerosene heaters. These fumes become toxic in large quantities and put vulnerable individuals at risk, such as pregnant women, asthmatics, people with cardiovascular disease, the elderly, and young children. Charcoal grills put off an enormous amount of CO; they should never be used indoors.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers guidance for protecting families from CO poisoning with these tips:

Fuel-Burning Appliances

•       Forced-air furnaces should be checked by a professional once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. Pilot lights can produce carbon monoxide and should be kept in good working order.

•       All fuel-burning appliances (eg, gas water heaters, gas stoves, gas clothes dryers) should be checked professionally once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.

•       Gas cooking stove tops and ovens should not be used for supplemental heat.

Fireplaces and Woodstoves

•       Fireplaces and woodstoves should be checked professionally once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer. Check to ensure the flue is open during operation. Proper use, inspection, and maintenance of vent-free fireplaces (and space heaters) are recommended.

Space Heaters

•       Fuel-burning space heaters should be checked professionally once a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.

•       Space heaters should be properly vented during use, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Barbecue Grills/Hibachis

•       Barbecue grills and hibachis should never be used indoors.

•       Barbecue grills and hibachis should never be used in poorly ventilated spaces such as garages, campers, and tents.

Automobiles/Other Motor Vehicles

•       Regular inspection and maintenance of the vehicle exhaust system are recommended. Many states have vehicle inspection programs to ensure this practice.

•       Never leave an automobile running in the garage or other enclosed space; Carbon monoxide can accumulate even when a garage door is open.

Generators/Other Fuel-Powered Equipment

•       Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when operating generators and other fuel-powered equipment.

•       Never operate a generator indoors or near an open window when the generator is outdoors.

Boats

•       Be aware that carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic symptoms of seasickness.

•       Schedule regular engine and exhaust system maintenance.

•       Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector in the accommodation space on the boat.

Carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic other illnesses – so it’s good to be aware of the symptoms, especially if you have any of the heating sources or gasoline powered motors mentioned above.

Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include:

  • Dull headache
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

The symptoms may be subtle, but the condition is life threatening. If you suspect CO poisoning, seek emergency medical care immediately and make sure your child is getting fresh air as soon as possible.

Story sources: https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Children-and-Disasters/Pages/Protecting-Children-from-Carbon-Monoxide-Poisoning.aspx

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/carbon-monoxide/basics/definition/con-20025444

 

Daily Dose

The Heat is Taking a Toll on Many

1:15 to read

This is a follow up last week’s Daily Dose on the toddler who burned his feet after playing outside on a very hot day. He has been being treated with daily dressing changes and debridement of the skin from the blistering on his feet. HIs mother called to tell me that the first few days were “BRUTAL” and extremely painful as the doctors popped the blisters and removed dead skin and then would scrub the area to prevent infection. His mother was also doing bandage changes at home.

But after those first horrible days, he is no longer having to go for “burn therapy” and she is managing the dressing changes on her own. She is fortunate to be a nurse, but having to change your own child’s dressings is a daunting task for any parent, even one who has done dressing changes before.

Her son is also now off all pain medication except for over the counter acetaminophen and ibuprofen, and is smiling and playing with his older brother. He is still not walking and is being “carried to and fro”, it seems that he realizes his feet have tender new skin.  The doctors also feel as is he will not have any significant scarring over the long term.  

The triple digit heat is continuing in many parts of the country and I just read about another child in Texas who died after being left in a car.  Remember, put something in the front seat to remind yourself that your child is in the car with you. A sleeping quiet baby can be momentarily forgotten when a parent is distracted….and even minutes in a hot car may be deadly.

Be aware of the many risks associated with these extreme temperatures, and make sure that your children have shoes on whenever they are going to be outside!!  Hoping that these extreme temperatures will moderate over the next few weeks…especially as children are heading back to school!

Your Baby

IKEA Recalls 169,000 Crib Mattresses

1:30

Swedish furniture maker IKEA is recalling about 169,000 of their VYSSA crib mattress because of the risk that infants can become trapped between the mattress and the crib.

The firm has received two reports of infants becoming entrapped between the mattress and an end of the crib. The children were removed from the gap without injury.

The mattresses were sold exclusively at IKEA stores and online from August 2010 to May 2014 for about $100.00.

This recall involves IKEA VYSSA style crib mattresses with the following five model names:

·      VACKERT

·      VINKA

·      SPELEVINK

·      SLÖA

·      SLUMMER.

The involved mattresses were manufactured on May 4, 2014 or earlier. An identification label attached to the mattress cover has the date of manufacture in Month-DD-YYYY format and the VYSSA model name. A gap between the mattress and crib ends larger than two-finger width is an indication of the defective mattress.

Consumers should inspect the recalled mattress by making sure there is no gap larger than the width of two fingers between the ends of the crib and the mattress. If any gap is larger, customers should immediately stop using the recalled mattresses and return it to any IKEA store for an exchange or a full refund.

Consumers can contact IKEA toll-free at (888) 966-4532 anytime or online at www.ikea-usa.com and click on the recall link at the top of the page for more information.

Source: http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2015/IKEA-Recalls-Crib-Mattresses/

Your Baby

Recall: Infant Bathtubs Due to Drowning and Impact Injury

1:30

This recall involves 86,000 Summer Infant Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool, Bubbling Spa & Shower with fabric slings.

Fabric slings on the recalled infant bathtubs can detach from the tub, posing a risk of impact injury and drowning.

CPSC and Summer Infant have received reports of 91 incidents of the sling detaching, including 11 reports of infants who received a bump to the head.

The infant bathtub is a battery-operated whirlpool bath with motorized jets intended for use with children from birth to 2 years. The product contains a fabric sling on a plastic frame onto which the infant is placed for bathing. The fabric sling on the recalled bathtubs does not have a white plastic attachment clip to hold the headrest area of the fabric sling to the plastic frame.

Recalled bathtubs have item numbers 18840, 18850, 18863, and 18873 and were sold between October 2012 and October 2013 with date codes starting with 1210, 1211, 1212, 1301, 1302, 1303, 1304, 1305, 1306, 1307, and 1308, which stand for the two-digit year followed by the two-digit month, on the fabric sling.

Consumers should immediately stop using the fabric sling in the recalled product and contact Summer Infant for a replacement fabric sling with a white plastic attachment clip. Consumers can contact Summer Infant toll free at 844-612-4254 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET on Friday, or online at www.summerinfant.com and click on “Safety Alerts & Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

The recalled items were sold at Toys R Us/Babies R Us and other juvenile product specialty stores nationwide from October 2012 through October 2013 for about $60. CPSC and Summer Infant warn consumers that these tubs could have been and could continue to be sold on the secondhand market.

 

Daily Dose

Teen Drivers

1:30 to read

As you know, when teens start to drive, I am a huge advocate for parent - teen driving contracts. I wrote my own contracts for my boys but I recently found a website that all parents who are getting ready to have teen drivers need to be aware of.

Injuries from motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of death for teens in the United States.  Studies have shown that having limits and boundaries in place for new drivers reduces the number of motor vehicle accidents that new drivers experience. Although not all states have “graduated driver’s licenses”, all parents can have discussions about the privilege and responsibility of driving and set their own guidelines for their new teen driver.

The website www.youngdriverparenting.org was developed by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and is an interactive site for both parent and teen.  The program is entitled “Checkpoints”.  The website includes teen driving statistics to help parents keep their teen drivers safe as well as giving information about state-specific teen driving laws.

The site has a great interactive component to help parents create their own parent-teen driving “contract” that addresses such things as teen driving hours, number of passengers allowed, and boundaries for driving. These parameters can be modified as the teen becomes more experienced and meets the “checkpoints” that were agreed to.  It is a great site as it not only gives you a template for the agreement, but sends emails as the allotted amount of time has passed for each step of the contract.  You don’t have to remember what you and your teen agreed to, they email you and then you and your child can revisit the agreement and expand it over time as your driver becomes more experienced.

Instead of handing out my “dog eared” old driving contracts that I wrote for my boys, I am now going to send my patients to this site (which is also being sustained by the American Academy of Pediatrics).  

Teen drivers whose parents are actively involved in monitoring their driving are not only less risky drivers but know ahead of time what their parent’s expectations are. Having a teen involved proactively with driving rules is far preferable to regretting that limits, boundaries and parental rules were not discussed prior to allowing your new driver on the road.

The website is not only free it is also evidence based, and within 5 - 10 minutes of reviewing the site a family is set to go with their own checkpoint agreement.  Here’s to teen driver safety!

Your Toddler

FDA Targets Unapproved Eardrops

1:30

For years, physicians may have been unknowingly prescribing unapproved eardrops used to treat ear pain and swelling, to parents for their children’s ear aches. The drugs have not been evaluated for safety, quality and effectiveness says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The agency notified the drugs' makers to stop marketing the drops following a few reports of local allergic reactions of the ear, eye, face, neck and mouth. The drops can also cause itching, stinging, burning and irritation of the ear, according to an FDA news release.

"If we don't know whether these drugs have any benefits, we should not accept any possible risk of side effects," said the FDA's Dr. Charles Lee in the news release.

The FDA did not release the names of the companies or the medications involved, but did note, "unapproved prescription otic [ear] drug products containing the following ingredients are covered by this action:

·      Benzocaine;

·      Benzocaine and Antipyrine;

·      Benzocaine, Antipyrine, and Zinc acetate;

·      Benzocaine, Chloroxylenol and Hydrocortisone;

·      Chloroxylenol and Pramoxine;

·      Chloroxylenol, Pramoxine, and Hydrocortisone.

“Taking enforcement actions against these unapproved products will protect patients from unnecessary risks,” said Cynthia Schnedar, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “There are many FDA-approved prescription products to treat ear infections, so we expect little or no impact on patients from the removal of these unapproved and potentially unsafe products.”

The labels on these products do not disclose that they lack FDA approval, and health care professionals may not be aware of their unapproved status.  The FDA’s action does not affect FDA-approved prescription otic products, or legally marketed otic products sold over-the-counter.

Unapproved prescription otic drug products are frequently given to young children suffering from ear infections and other conditions that cause ear pain and swelling. Patients taking unapproved drugs may be at greater risk because there is no proven safety or effectiveness information. These products may be contaminated or manufactured incorrectly, which could result in patients receiving the wrong dose, even when administered according to the labeled directions for use, the agency said.

The FDA recommends that you check with your doctor if you think your child may have been prescribed one of these products or has exhibited side effects. You can ask for an alternative medication that has been FDA approved.

Sources: Margaret Farley Steele, http://consumer.healthday.com/general-health-information-16/doctor-news-206/unapproved-ear-drops-targeted-by-fda-700970.html

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm453348.htm

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