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Safe Kids Grand Forks Talks Bike Helmets


Summer is in full swing and kids are wheeling their bikes out in the nice weather. It is important for both parents and children to remember to wear their helmets at all times when riding a bike. Helmets are 85% effective in reducing head injuries. Head injuries can cause life altering injuries, disabilities, or even death. It is important for parents to set the example and wear helmets when riding, not just as a role model for children, but for their own protection.

Here are some injury statistics concerning wheeled sports activities:

  • On average over 80 children 14 and under are killed in cycle-related incidents.
  • Over 200,000 children are injured in cycle-related crashes each year.
  • Each year, over 60,000 children 14 and under are injured while using skateboards, inline skates or scooters.
  • Head-injury is the leading cause of wheeled sports-related deaths and the most important determinant of permanent disability after a crash.

Here’s the good news:

  • Since 1988, bicycle injury deaths have decreased by 78%.
  • Nationwide, the use of wheeled sports helmets by children has increased from 15% to nearly 45%.
  • Bicycle helmets have been proven to decrease the risk of a brain injury by almost 90%.

Wearing a helmet for wheeled sports is the single most effective way to prevent serious injury or death.

This is a bicycle helmet. If you fall off your bike, you are most likely to hit the side or front of your head. This helmet protects those parts of your head. It is for bike riding only – it should not be used for any other wheeled sports, as it does not provide adequate protection!

This is a multi-sport helmet. It can be used for all non-motorized wheeled sports (inline skating, skateboarding, scooter, bicycling). If you fall when doing some of these activities, you are most likely to hit the back, side or front of your head. This helmet protects those parts of your head.

This is a toddler helmet. It is usually used by children who ride on tricycles as they tend to tip over backwards and thus need additional protection at the base of the brain. This helmet looks a lot like a multi-sport helmet.

If you would like to purchase bike helmets at a reduced price, Safe Kids Grand Forks has two types of helmets available for both adults and children.

Bike helmets are available for $8, and are to be used exclusively on bikes.

Multi-sport helmets are also available, which can be used for skateboarding, biking, rollerblading, and on scooters. The multi-sport helmets cost $12 each.

Both bike and multi-sport helmets come in a variety of colors.

For more information, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notification when our new posts are available, please email Asked to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.



Travel Safety: Whether by Planes, Trains, or Automobiles


Warm weather often brings travel to the lake, a visit to relatives or exploring in other states or places of interest. Besides keeping kids safe in their mode of transportation, there are lots of other considerations that need to be made when preparing for travel. Here are some suggestions from Safe Kids Grand Forks to keep your family and kids safe while traveling and away from home.

~ Be sure to check with airlines to see what seats they allow on planes. Usually only ones with a harness system are allowed to be used on the airplane seat. Others must be checked as luggage. If you need a seat at your final destination, determine that need ahead of time in case car seat rental companies don’t have them to rent. Safe Kids does have some travel vest options available for use for a donation to our coalition.

~ Be aware that you need to follow the laws in each state you are driving through. Therefore, if you cross states with differing ages for kids to be in car seats, you must abide by the laws in each of those states. Check out for a list of car seat laws by state.

~ Think about what activities your family will be doing while on vacation. If you are participating in water sports, be sure you will have access to life jackets. Maybe horse back riding is in your plans; think ahead for helmet needs and assure that there are helmets to fit the ages of your children.

~ When packing your suitcase, be sure to keep all medications in their original containers. This will usually assure that they have child resistant covers and if there is a medication exposure, it will be easier to identify the exposure and how many pills were accessed.

~ When arriving at a hotel or resort area, be sure to check your fire escape route. These are usually posted on the doors of hotel rooms, but knowing where the exits are PRIOR to an emergency is always helpful.

~ Make yourself aware of conditions in the water that may not be familiar to your home locations. For example, rip currents, tides and the undertow may not be something your swimmers are accustomed to. Swim in areas where there are lifeguards and follow posted warnings.

~ If you are traveling with small children, think about childproofing the hotel rooms where you are staying. Throw a few extra outlet covers in your suitcase and consider a door knob cover for the bathroom.

~ Check hotel pool areas for fencing or locked access gates so kids that wander off cannot get into the pool area.

~ Read and follow height recommendations for amusement park rides. These are posted for the safety of the riders and should be adhered to.

For more information on summer travel safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notification when our new posts are available, please email Asked to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.



Sun and Bug Protection


Summer is here and it is time to think about protecting our children from the sun and insects. Many parents wonder what the recommendations are for sunscreen and bug spray for different ages. The American Academy of Pediatrics has published guidelines for the use of both of these products in children. 

Sun protection:
Sunscreen should be:
Broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection). 
SPF 15 or greater 

Infants less than 6 months of age:
~ It is best to keep these children out of direct sun exposure. This includes keeping them in shaded areas and using cool clothing that protects from the sun including a hat.
~ If you are unable to keep these infants out of direct sun exposure, sunscreen may be used sparingly on exposed parts of the body such as the face or hands. 

Infants and children over 6 months of age:
~ Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of the body, being careful around the eyes.
~ Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outside.
~ Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours if sun exposure continues.
~ All children should wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection.

Insect repellent:
~No insect repellent should be used for children less than 2 months of age.
~In children over 2 months of age, DEET containing insect repellents can be used.
~ Do not apply near the mouth or eyes or on the hands of young children. Do not spray directly onto the face, instead, spray onto your hands and then pat or rub onto the face.
~ The DEET content of these sprays should be no more than 30% for children. The length of effectiveness of an insect repellent is dependent upon the DEET content with 10% DEET being effective for about 2 hours and 24% for about 5 hours. There is no added benefit to great than 30% DEET products. Choose the lowest concentration of DEET for your children which will be effective for the amount of time they are going to be out.
~ Wash childrens’ skin with soap and water when returning inside.
~ Do not apply DEET containing insect repellant to children more than once per day. 

Insect repellents made from other products are generally less effective. Some of the available products are made from or with: citronella, cedar, eucalyptus and soy. These usually last more than 2 hours. They should also not be used on infants under 2 months of age.  Do not use combination sunscreen/bug spray products. They are less effective and sunscreen can not be used as often as necessary.  Following these guidelines for sun protection and insect repellents will help you and your children to have an active, safe summer.

For more information on sun and insect protection, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.

If you would like to receive email notifications when our new posts are available, please email Asked to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.



Safe Kids Grand Forks Wishes You a Safe 4th of July


With the summer months upon us, there are a few safety precautions to consider before partaking in fireworks festivities. The safest way to watch a fireworks event is to attend a public display. A properly planned event will have trained professionals to safely handle fireworks. This will foster a safe environment for all spectators and minimize the chance of an accident occurring. If you do decide to either attend or conduct a private showing, here are a few safety precautions to consider before the first igniter is lit:

~ Contact the local Fire Department to make sure there are no burn bans in effect.

~ Never light fireworks near dry grass or indoors.

~ Ensure there is an extinguisher or a water source available to put out any possible spot fires. Also make sure you know how to use the extinguisher properly. If you have any questions, your local fire department can give you tips.

~ Make sure that spectators, along with the lighter of the fireworks, are located several feet from the “launch point.”

~ Never attempt to relight a “dud.” If a firework does not work, soak it with water, and properly dispose of it.

~ Please talk to your children about properly handling fireworks, including sparklers. A statistical report on the National Fire Protection Agency website: shows that 27% of all firework related injuries are from sparklers (John R. Hall, 2012).

 Summer is a time of celebration and unity. Ensure that you are doing your part to facilitate a fun and safe summer for your families and friends, and remember the best defense against firework related emergencies is education and planning.

For more information on fireworks safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.



Safety on the Water


Finally we are done with the 2014 ice age and we are now at the lake in a boat or on the shore enjoying the cool water and breezes. Winter is a distant memory. What do we need to do to have safe fun at the lakes this summer?

First, always have life jackets ready. Remember, a jacket doesn’t qualify for a boat unless it says its type and is a U.S. Coast Guard Approved. For the little ones, those fun swimmer jackets or “floaties” are okay near the beach or pool, but only with the added ingredients of love and very vigilant adult supervision. In a boat children need appropriate, properly fitting life jackets just like everyone else.

When swimming from a boat the risk is greater and the demands for safety increase. Use an anchor and line to keep the boat from drifting away with the wind while everyone is enjoying the water. Few people can swim as fast as a drifting boat in the light breeze. A swim ladder either permanently mounted or hooked over the gunwale is a big asset. Boats can be difficult to climb back into from the water. A retrieval strap such as a simple dock line can be used to lift a person from the water. If you think you can just reach over and drag them in, better rethink it. Can you dead lift 150 pounds from an awkward position? Probably not.

Here’s how to use a line:

1 – Bring the victim to the side of the boat and face them away from the boat if unconscious or face them to the boat if the victim can help.
2 – Place the retrieval line under the arms and across the chest.
3 – Bounce them in the water a few times and then pull them in the boat on the up-bounce. This way the water is assisting and not pulling backward. With two people on the line it is even easier.
4 – Two people may also be able to lift the person by each placing a hand under the person’s armpit. If the person is wearing a life jacket, then grasping the jacket at the shoulders may be another way to bring them aboard. This is a fun drill for the family to practice while out swimming.
Lastly, to help ensure a safe outing, bring plenty of water, hats for shade and sunscreen. The effects of drinking alcohol, even in moderation, are increased in the sun and can also contribute to dehydration. Don’t forget to keep babies shaded as much as possible since their skin is so sensitive.

Remember to have fun but know the risks and avoid them by being prepared and acting responsibly. For more information on a fun safe summer on the water contact the local USCG Auxiliary at or contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.


Firearm Injuries to Kids Increase During Summer Months


While thoughts of summer often lead to playing in the pool or riding a bike, unintentional firearm injuries to children occur most frequently during the months of June to August and during the holiday season (November to December).

June 21 is National ASK Day, run by the Asking Saves Kids campaign. Safe Kids Grand Forks joins ASK and other gun safety advocates in urging parents to ask whether there are firearms in the homes where their children play.

Approximately two out of five U.S. households with children have a gun, and many of those guns are left unlocked or loaded. Each year in the United States approximately 68 children ages 14 and under are killed by an unintentional gun shooting, and more than 880 go to the emergency room with injuries from gun-related accidents. In 2006, there were more than 8,400 non-fatal injuries to children involving BB guns and pellet guns.

More than half of the parents surveyed who own guns, and have children ages 4 to 12, said they keep a loaded or unlocked gun in the home. Kids should never have access to guns, period. It’s too unpredictable and dangerous. Parents should talk to the adults in any homes where their children visit. Make it a priority to ask whether there’s a gun in the home and whether it is locked up where children can’t get to it.

Safe gun storage means:
- Guns are always kept unloaded, and ammunition is kept locked up in a separate place.
- Guns are locked away in a safe or lock box, or fitted with a trigger lock.
- Keys, or combinations to gun locks and ammo boxes, are stored out of reach of children.
- BB guns, pellet guns and other non-powder guns should be stored the same way as firearms.
- Both gun locks and load indicators – two safety devices that could eliminate more than 30 percent of all unintentional firearm deaths – should be used.

Safe Kids Grand Forks is strictly focused on the prevention of unintentional injury. With that in mind parents should seriously weigh the risks of keeping a gun in the home. Nearly all childhood unintentional shooting deaths occur in or near the home. Teach kids not to touch a gun and to tell an adult if they find one. Most kids cannot tell the difference between a real handgun and a realistic-looking toy.

For more information, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.



Drowning is Quick and Quiet, Keep Your Eyes on Kids around Water


It’s a warm summer day and you’re at the beach, pool, or just simply near water 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 Grand Forks, and it could even be deadly.  Children can get into trouble in a matter of seconds when around water, so Safe Kids Grand Forks recommends that parents actively supervise – with their eyes on their kids at all times – and use additional layers of protection when children are in or near the water.

Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional death for children. Overall, approximately 750 children ages 14 and under die each year due to unintentional drownings, and on average, there are an estimated 5,016 injuries to children after near-drowning incidents each year.

Kids drown quickly and quietly. A drowning child cannot cry or shout for help.  It is important to remember that simple steps save lives – supervise children when they are in or near water, learn water safety skills like swimming and CPR and for home pools and spas, use barriers and anti-entrapment devices. The most important precaution for parents is active supervision. Simply being near your child is not necessarily supervising.

To help keep kids safe this pool season, Safe Kids Grand Forks 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 or texting 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 four feet high with self-closing and self-latching gates that lock. Studies estimate that this type of isolation fencing could prevent 50 to 90 percent of child drownings in residential pools.
  • Teach children about the dangers of swimming around drains.  Children should not swim or play near any drain or suction outlet.
  • Make sure all pools and spas have compliant anti-entrapment drain covers and back up devices to ensure safer places for children to swim.
  • Know how to swim and enroll your kids in swimming lessons.   Swimming lessons will not make your child immune to drowning, but it is an important skill for both adults and children to learn. There is no substitute for active supervision.
  • 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.
  • Don’t rely on inflatable swimming toys such as “water wings” and noodles; these toys should never be used in place of U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets. 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.
  • Learn how to use rescue equipment.
  • Keep rescue equipment, a phone and emergency numbers nearby in case there is an emergency.

Even a near-drowning incident can have lifelong consequences. Kids who survive a near-drowning may have brain damage, and 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. When there are children in or near the water, adults should take turns serving as the designated “Water Watcher,” paying undivided attention. Visit to download a free Water Watcher badge.

For more information about drowning and water safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.


Preventable Injuries Claim the Lives of More Than 2,000 Children Each Summer


While summer is a memorable time for most children, less time in the classroom and more time going swimming, bike riding, or playing in the back yard can lead to a higher exposure to serious, yet preventable, injuries. But there are some simple steps parents can take to ensure that children enjoy their favorite summertime activities while avoiding a visit to the emergency room.

This summer, children will be rushed to emergency rooms nearly 3 million times for serious injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes, drownings, bike crashes, pedestrian incidents, falls and other hazards. In the injury prevention community, summer is also known as ‘trauma season’ because of the dramatic increase in the number of children injured from May through August. Sadly, by the end of this summer, more than 2,000 children will die because of injuries that could have been prevented.

Parents and caregivers should keep these tips in mind so safety stays a top priority this summer:

  • Actively supervise your child when engaging in summertime activities, such as swimming and playing on playgrounds and backyards.
  • Use the appropriate safety gear for your child’s activities, such as a helmet for wheeled sports and sporting activities, a car seat or booster seat as appropriate, and a life jacket for open water swimming and boating.  
  • Role model proper safety behavior. Children are more likely to follow safety rules when they see their parents doing so.
  • If you have a pool or a spa, it should be surrounded on all four sides by a fence at least four feet high with self-closing, self-latching gates, and it should be equipped with an anti-entrapment drain cover and safety vacuum release system. An inflatable pool needs to be surrounded by a fence, just like any other pool, and parents need to empty these pools when not in use.
  • Make sure your home playground is safe. Keep 12 inches safe surfacing, such as mulch, shredded rubber or fine sand, extending at least six feet in all directions around the equipment. Remove hood and neck drawstrings from your child’s clothing.
  • Keep children away from the grill area while preheating and cooking, and while the grill is cooling.
  • Remove potential poisons from your yard, including poisonous plants, pesticides and pool chemicals.
  • Walk all the way around a parked vehicle to check for children before entering a car and starting the motor.  Don’t let children play in driveways, streets, parking lots or unfenced yards adjacent to busy streets.
  • Apply sunscreen rated SPF 15 or higher to your child’s exposed skin 15 to 30 minutes before going out, and reapply frequently.
  • Make sure your child drinks plenty of water. A child who seems tired or achy should rest in the shade or go inside for a while. Get immediate medical help any time a child’s skin is hot to the touch (with or without perspiration), if a child has a seizure, or if they become disoriented in hot weather.

 Active supervision, proper protective gear, and other simple prevention steps will help your child avoid danger. For more information about summer safety, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.



Safe Kids Grand Forks talks about Heatstroke


Each year, there are between 30- 50 children in the US who die from being left in a vehicle in which the rising temperature causes their death. There have already been 5 deaths this year in the US. The graph shown marks the trends seen over the years from this type of death.

Sadly, it does not take a 90 degree day for a child to be overcome by the effects of overheating. The average elapsed time and inside vehicle temperature rise compared to ambient temperatures are as follows:

10 minutes = 19 degree increase

20 minutes = 29 degree increase

30 minutes = 34 degree increase

1 hour = 43 degree increase

Therefore, on a 60 degree day, the internal temperatures of a vehicle can reach over 100 degrees within one hour. A child’s body warms 3-5 times faster than an adult’s body. Heatstroke will result when the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees and when the temperature rises to 107 degrees, it is almost always fatal! Symptoms can quickly progress from flushed, dry skin and vomiting to seizures, organ failure and death. This tragedy can be prevents if parents, caregivers, bystanders and the public remember to ACT.

AVOID heat stroke-related injury and death by:
- Never leaving your child alone in the car, even for one minute.
- Consistently locking unattended vehicle doors and trunks so children cannot climb in without your knowledge.

CREATE reminders and habits that give you and your child’s caregiver a safety net:
- Establish a peace-of-mind plan. When you drop off your child, make a habit of calling or texting all other caregivers, so all of you know where your child is at all times.
- Place a purse, briefcase, gym bag, cell phone or any item that is needed at your next stop in the back seat.
- Set the alarm on your cell phone or computer calendar as a reminder to drop your child off at childcare.

TAKE action if you see an unattended child in a vehicle:
- Dial 911 immediately and follow the instruction that emergency personnel provide – they are trained to determine if a child is in danger.

Safe Kids Grand Forks has developed an educational flyer on this topic. The flyer comes with a vinyl cling to use as a reminder to watch for children both inside and out of the vehicle. The flyer can be viewed on-line at or to request hard copies and the cling, contact



Safe Kids Grand Forks Advocates for Child Safety During National Safe Boating Week


Safe Kids Grand Forks urges parents and caregivers to take extra measures to keep kids safe during National Safe Kids Boating Week on May 17-23. It is estimated that half of boating-related drownings could be prevented by the use of life jackets. Whether it’s during vacation or part of an ordinary day, boating can be fun for the entire family – as long as everyone remains safe. We can’t stress it enough: On a boat, everyone should wear a life jacket at all times.

Safe Kids Grand Forks strongly encourages parents and caregivers to look for a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. ‘Water wings’ and other inflatable swimming aids such as inner tubes do not prevent drowning.

Children ages 14 and under should also wear life jackets not only on boats, but near open bodies of water or when participating in water sports. Children under 13 are required to wear life jackets on any recreational vessel in waters under Coast Guard jurisdiction unless they are below deck or within an enclosed cabin. Safe Kids Grand Forks urges parents and caregivers to wear life jackets on boats or other watercraft as well.  Children are much more likely to practice safe habits when they witness similar behavior by parents and caregivers. Your children will pick up and embrace your safety habits.

Safe Kids Grand Forks also reminds parents and caregivers:

+ Always supervise children when they are around any type of water. Designate a “Water Watcher” – a responsible adult who is in charge of watching children while they are in or near water. The Water Watcher should not be distracted by phone calls, text messages, reading or talking to others.

+Always wear a life jacket. Adults and children should wear life jackets in or around open bodies of water and on boats. Life jackets should fit snugly and keep the child’s head above water. Make sure the life jacket is appropriate for the child’s size and weight, and is properly fastened. Quick Check: Put the life jacket on the child and have the child make a “touchdown” signal with arms raised. If the neck opening of the life jacket comes over the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps may be too loose.  

+ Learn how to swim and only swim in designated swimming areas. Enroll children in swim lessons taught by a certified instructor. Knowing how to swim does not prevent drowning, but it is an important skill for both children and adults to learn. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool – they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.

Learn CPR and know how to use rescue equipment – these are important skills to know if there is an emergency.

+ Take a boating safety course. Make sure the boat operator has passed a boating safety course approved by the U.S. Coast Guard before your child or family rides in the boat. For more information about safe boat operations and free Vessel Safety Checks, contact the local Coast Guard Auxiliary at

Do not let children operate or ride on personal watercrafts such as jet skis. These are intended for adults and require special training.

+ Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Know where and how CO may accumulate around your boat, and install a CO detector to alert you to dangerous levels of exhaust fumes.

+ Avoid alcoholic beverages. Never drink alcoholic beverages while boating — a large portion of boating accidents that occur each year involve alcohol consumption by both boat operators and passengers.

National Safe Boating Week is an annual educational campaign, coordinated by the National Safe Boating Council (, running the week prior to Memorial Day.

For more information about drowning and boating-related injuries, contact Safe Kids Grand Forks at Altru Health System is proud to serve as the lead agency for Safe Kids Grand Forks.