New Year “Safety To Do List”

Happy New Year From Safe Kids Grand Forks

As we ring in the New Year, we often make plans for what the next year will hold for us.  I am a list maker and often put to paper my plans or “to do lists”.  I have assembled a New Year safety “to do list” for you to consider to keep your children safe all throughout 2011 and beyond.  This will highlight some “top 10” things to consider and do in the name of safety.  Hope you enjoy!!

  1. Motor vehicle safety:  Buy and properly use a car seat.

¨      Children under age two (or to the upper limits of their seat which is usually 30-35#) should be in a rear-facing car seat.

¨      Children to at LEAST age 4 and 40# should be in a car seat with a harness system.  Car seats now have harnesses that go to higher weight limits such as 50, 65 and 80#.  The longer you can keep a child in a harness, the safer they will be.

¨      Children need to be in a booster seat until they can sit in the vehicle and meet the following criteria:

  1. Back against the back of the vehicle seat.
  2. Knees bent at the edge of the seat.
  3. Feet flat on the floor.
  4. Shoulder belt across the shoulder and center of the chest, not over the neck.
  5. Lap belt down low across the hip bones and not over soft tummy tissue.

¨      Children 12 and under should be in the back seat of the car and away from airbags.  They deploy at 200 mph in 1/20 of a second.  They can injury or kill a younger child.

  1. Wheeled sports safety:  If people have wheels on their “bottoms” or their feet, they need a helmet on their head.  Helmets are 85% effective in preventing head injuries and come in a variety of colors, sizes and styles.  To purchase one at a reduced price, contact Safe Kids at  We have bike helmets, multi-sport helmets (for rollerblading, skating, in-line skating, scooters, etc.) and winter sports helmets.
  2. Poison safety:  Keep poisons out of reach and know how to respond if a poisoning does occur.

¨      Keep items that can be poisonous out of children’s reach.  Keep in mind many poisonings occur from medications kept in purses or medication dispenses with easy opening tops.  Keep medications in their original container so they are easy to identify and report if ingestion occurs.  If a poisoning occurs, call 911 immediately for further instructions or contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

  1. Fire safety:  Plan and practice your fire escape plan.  Make sure there is a working smoke alarm on each level of the home, in or directly outside sleeping areas.  The smoke alarms should be tested each month and the batteries changed in the spring and fall when you change your clocks.
  2. Water safety:  Remember that ACTIVE adult supervision is important in and around all bodies of water.  Make sure that children have well fitting life jackets that they use each and every time they are near the water or in it.  Know where bodies of standing water are around a home including ditches, ponds, decorative fountains, buckets, wading pools or neighborhood pools (both below and above ground).
  3. Playground safety:  Assure that there is adequate surfacing beneath playground equipment.  This should include at least 9” and preferably 12” of an approved surfacing agent (pea rock, sand, wood chips, etc.).  Be aware that playgrounds are designed for two different ages of children, under 5 and 5-12.
  4. Choking safety:  Inspect the home for items that a young child could choke on.  Scour the floor and “low down” places by crawling on your knees at the child’s level.  If an item can pass through the center of a toilet paper roll, it is too small to be played with by a child under age 3.
  5. ATV safety:  Children under the age of 16 should NOT ride on an ATV.  ATV’s can go up to 70 mph and weigh as much as 800#.  Children under age 16 do not have enough upper body strength to bring an ATV to the upright position if it starts to tip.
  6. Home safety:  Conduct routine home inspections to check for hazards such as furniture near windows, overloaded extension cords, fall hazards or other dangers that could potential hurt a young child.
  7. Pedestrian safety:  Be aware that children under age 10 do not have the cognitive ability to access the speed and distance of on-coming traffic to determine if they have enough time to cross a street.  Assure that children know to stop at all corners and wait for the driver to see them and the wheels to stop.  Assure that children have retro-reflective material on their backpack, shoes or clothing so they are easily seen.


As we think about the New Year and new beginnings, we should take a few minutes to start the year off with safety as a priority.  For more safety tips from Safe Kids Grand Forks, log on to  Happy New Year from all of us at Altru Health System and Safe Kids Grand Forks!!!  May 2011 be a safe and blessed year for you and your family!!!