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Safe Kids Grand Forks Talks Fall Sports Safety


Injury is always a possibility during physical activity. Sports injury can occur as a result of falls, collisions, being struck by an object, or overexertion. Children are more susceptible to these injuries than adults; in fact, children ages 5-14 account for nearly 40% of all sports related injuries.

The Facts are In:

• Injuries associated with participation in sports/recreational activities account for 21% of all traumatic brain injuries.

• Brain injury is the leading cause of sports related death to children.

• Each year, 3.5 million children ages 14 and under receive medical treatment for sport injuries.

• Young children (ages 5-9) are more likely to sustain playground and bicycle related injuries while older children are more likely to suffer from bicycle and sports related injuries & overexertion.

Did you know?

• The most common types of sport-related injuries in children are sprains (mostly ankle), muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and heat-related illness.

• It is estimated that half of all significant sports-related injuries are treated in sports medicine clinics.

• The highest rate of injury for boys, in regards to sports, are ice hockey, football and soccer. Soccer, basketball and gymnastics seem to incur the highest rates of injury in girls.

• Children who do not wear or use protective equipment, particularly helmets, are at greater risk of sustaining recreational injuries. Unlike organized team sports, recreational activities generally do not have helmet requirements.

Steps To Safety

• Children should always wear appropriate shoes and safety gear when participating in sports and recreational activities.

• Always use appropriate safety equipment and ensure adequate adult supervision.

• Coaches should be trained in first aid and CPR, and should have a plan for responding to emergencies.

• Match and group children according to similar skill level, weight and physical maturity, especially for contact sports.

• Ensure that children drink adequate amounts of liquids while engaging in athletic activities. A body that is dehydrated is more prone to injury.

• Provide children with proper training and skill building when they are learning a new sport.

• Never encourage a child to “play through the pain”. Injuries are more likely to occur.

• Be certain that playing areas—indoors and outdoors are inspected regularly for hazards.

• If a child suffers a concussion, they need to be evaluated by a doctor who is familiar with signs of a concussion and who is able to test for mild lasting effects of a concussion prior to returning to play.

• Follow your physician’s recommendations for when an athlete can return to play. Failure to do so can have life threatening or life altering consequences.

• Ensure that children get sports physicals by a physician prior to enrolling in a sporting activity to ensure they don’t have a medical condition that would prohibit activity.

A concussion is a common injury, but is often difficult to diagnose. Altru Health System works with ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) computer-based screening to help healthcare professionals evaluate the recovery of student athletes following a concussion and ensure their safe return to play.

How does ImPACT work?

  • A baseline test is completed.
  • When a concussion is suspected, a follow-up test is administered to see if results have changed from the baseline.
  • This comparison helps to diagnose and manage the concussion.
  • Follow-up tests can be administered over days or weeks, so clinicians can continue to track the student athlete’s recovery.

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 Ask to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.


Back to School Safety from Safe Kids Grand Forks


As autumn rolls in and summer winds down, we find our kids back in school. By fall, many safety tips that were taught during the previous school year are long forgotten. Safe Kids Grand Forks would like to remind parents to discuss the following safety tips with your children as they head back to school.
Remember to follow the Safe Kids Walk This Way four pillar program!

Pillar 1: Pedestrian Safety
1. Cross streets only at corners and in crosswalks. Do not cross until the light is in your favor.
2. Look left, look right, and left again before stepping into the street. Also, make sure to keep looking left and right as you cross.
3. When stepping out in front of traffic, assure that the tires of the car have stopped moving and you have made eye contact with the driver.
4. Wear light colored clothing or a reflective device if walking in low light conditions.
5. Never run across the street!
6. Walk facing traffic and as far to the left as possible when sidewalks are not available.
7. Provide children under age 10 supervision while walking and crossing streets.
8. Always model safety behaviors to children.
9. Remind children to NEVER walk out into the street between two parked cars.

Pillar 2: School Bus Safety
1. When the bus approaches, stand at least 3 giant steps (six feet) away from the curb.
2. Wait until the bus stops, the door opens and the driver says it is okay to get on.
3. If you have to cross the street in front of a bus, walk in a crosswalk and be sure the driver sees you and you can see the driver.
4. Get to the bus stop about 5 minutes early so you are not in a hurry.
5. Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
6. When the bus is moving, sit on the seat and do not stand or walk in the aisle.

Pillar 3: Motor Vehicle Safety
1. Children ages 12 and under should ride in the rear vehicle seat so they are not in front of an active air bag. Air bags can kill or injure children when they are deployed.
2. All people in the vehicle should be buckled-up on each and every ride.
3. There should only be one person per seat belt.
4. A lap and shoulder belt is much safer than just a lap belt alone.
5. 4 out of 5 car and booster seats are used incorrectly. Be sure to read the seat’s owner’s manual and the vehicle instruction manual to assure that you are using the seat correctly. Safe Kids Grand Forks has monthly car seat check-up events where certified child passenger safety technicians will assist you with your car seat questions and inspect your seat for recalls and correct use.

Vehicle reminders for drivers:
1. When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
2. When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking about getting there safely.
3. Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
4. Slow down. Watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.
5. Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus or school may dart into the street without looking.
6. Be aware of crosswalks on the street and stop before the crosswalk, not IN them.
7. Children should exit the vehicle on the “grass” or “curb” side so they don’t get out directly into oncoming traffic.

Pillar 4: Bike Safety
1. The most important bike safety tip is WEAR A HELMET at all times. Bike helmets are 85% effective in preventing head injuries that can injure or kill someone. Get a helmet that fits correctly and wear it on each and every ride.
2. Safe Kids Grand Forks distributes bike helmets for $8.00 and multi-sport helmets for $12.00. Bike helmets are worn only for riding a bike, but a multi-sport helmet can be used for riding a bike, scooter, in-line skates or a skateboard. To obtain a helmet from Safe Kids e-mail
3. Bicycles have all the rights of a vehicle on the roadway and must obey the laws for vehicles. Use bike paths when available.
4. Never hang onto a car or let someone tow a bike and rider with a car.
5. When driving on the roadway, stay as far to the right as possible, but watch out for parked cars and for cars going the same direction as you on the roadway. Pass carefully.
6. When driving a bicycle, don’t carry anything in your hands or on the bicycle that will prevent you from keeping at least one hand on the handlebars. One seat = one rider. Pegs are not for carrying other children, they are for tricks.
7. Use proper hand signals when turning or stopping.

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 Ask to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.


Yard Safety from Safe Kids Grand Forks


The lawn is green and needs to be mowed.  Every summer, 30 million power lawn mowers are in use in the United States. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) data shows that each year about 400,000 people are treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries from lawn tools. A few simple precautions may help you enjoy your time spent outdoors, and help you get your work completed more efficiently.

In General:

-Before mowing, trimming or edging, read the owner’s manual and pay particular attention to safety recommendations.

 -Start the mower on level ground where you have firm footing. Mow parallel to a slope. Never pull the mower toward you; always push it.

­-Do not tamper with built-in safety devices; they are there for good reason.

-Clear the lawn of stones or toys, and anything else that might be thrown by the mower, trimmer or edger.

­-Be sure the yard is clear of children and pets. Always be aware of where others might be in the yard. A moment’s distraction could mean tragedy.

­-When using equipment, wear sturdy shoes with rough soles. Never go barefoot or wear sandals.

­-Keep hands and feet away from the mower housing and never unclog the mower when it’s running.

-Keep children away from equipment unless you’re sure they’re trained in how to use it and know the associated dangers.

-Don’t mow, trim or edge in “blind spots”. There may be hidden objects under bushes, hedges or in trees.

-Be aware of the lawn surface; watch out for holes and tree roots.

­-Never leave equipment running or leave tools where others might stumble over them.

For Gasoline Mowers:

-Fill your gas tank before you start, while the engine is still cold. Wipe up all spills. And never smoke near gasoline.

-Always turn off the mower and disconnect the spark plug wire before unclogging the machine or adjusting it. Gasoline mowers can start even when they’re turned off if the blade is rotated.

Hedge Trimmers / Weed Trimmers / Lawn Edgers:

-Wear safety eye protection. It’s also a good idea to wear long pants when doing lawn work to protect from abrasions.

-Never use electric-hedge trimmers over your head. If trimmers become lodged on something, disconnect the power source before attempting to dislodge it.

-Remember weed trimmers are intended for groundwork only, not for overhead work in trees or bushes where the hazard of flying debris is a real possibility.

-When using a weed trimmer, disconnect power before advancing the line if it is a manual feed trimmer.

For information about yard 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 Ask to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.



Thrill Rides Can Be Both Exciting and Safe – If Certain Practices Are Followed


Whether it’s flying through the air or spinning in circles – there’s something about a summer day at an amusement park that draws people of all ages. Safe Kids Grand Forks believes that staying safe and having fun can and should go hand in hand.

Parents need to use their own judgment. Posted age and height requirements are minimum guidelines. Following the rules are also important. If a ride operator tells you to keep your hands and feet inside the car, hold the handrail or remain seated, there’s a good reason for doing that – it helps make the ride safer.

Every year, an estimated 8,000 children suffer injuries from amusement park or carnival-type rides that require treatment in an emergency room. These injuries involve fixed rides, mobile rides, inflatables and other types of rides at amusement parks, festivals, traveling carnivals and other locations.

Portable carnival rides are subject to safety regulations enforced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Amusement park rides at a fixed location are not subject to federal safety standards. Parents and caregivers need to decide whether their children are capable of sitting properly on a ride and following the operator’s instructions.

Parents can follow these tips to help keep amusement park and carnival rides safer for children of all ages:

Role-model proper safety behavior. Children are more likely to follow safety rules when they see their parents doing so.

Supervise your child getting on and off a ride. Make sure the child understands all announcements and posted rules. Also, parents should practice active supervision. Don’t allow older children to supervise younger children on rides.

Always use the safety equipment provided. Safety belts, lap bars, chains, handrails and other safety features are there for a reason.

Be careful when getting off a moving ride. Wait until the ride comes to a complete stop. Also, if a ride stops due to a mechanical problem or safety concern, stay seated and wait for instructions.

Don’t let children ride if they’re too tired or scared to comply with safety procedures. On some rides, it’s important to stay upright and face forward. Don’t pressure kids to go on a ride they’re afraid of, as they’re more likely to sit incorrectly or even try to get off.

Note the limitations of safety devices. Lap bars and chains are not physical restraints – their main function is to remind the occupant to stay seated. If a small child sits next to a large adult, a lap bar might not offer the child much protection.

Trust your instincts. If a ride looks like it is poorly maintained or an operator seems to be inattentive or unfit, don’t let your children ride. As in any industry, while most operators pay close attention to safety, there are exceptions.

To find out about the law in your state, please visit: For additional information about summertime 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 Ask to be added to our notification list for the Area Voices blog and/or Safe Kids quarterly newsletter.


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 Ask 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 Ask 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 Ask 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.