Category Archives: Family safety

Bike safety rodeo this Saturday, March 31

Every three days a child in the United States is killed while riding a bicycle. Every single day, 100 children are treated in emergency rooms for bicycle-related head injuries.

Proper helmet use reduces the risk of brain injury from these accidents by about 90 percent.

Why don’t more kids wear helmets? For some, it’s the cool factor. For others, it’s the expense.

This weekend, Cardon Children’s Medical Center along with Safe Kids Maricopa County will give away free helmets to the first 300 people to attend their Bike Rodeo.

It’s a chance to practice bike safety skills and to find out more about helmet use. Plus, there’s an opportunity to win a new bike.

More on how to fit a bike helmet

Cardon Children’s Bike Rodeo details:

  • Saturday, March 31
  • 9 a.m. to noon
  • Cardon Children’s Medical Center
  • 1400 S. Dobson Road, Mesa 85202
  • For ages 3-16
  • Bring your bike or scooter

Watch  injury prevention specialist Tracey Fejt, RN, of Cardon Children’s talk about an outreach program she designed that provides safety curriculum and free helmets to schools that agree to “helmet required” policies for students.


Car seat safety check this Saturday

Wondering if your car seat still fits your child? Confused about when to turn your child from rear-facing to front facing? Need the eye of a trained professional car seat fitter to make sure your safety system works the way it should?

On Saturday, March 24, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Car Seat Check Event takes place at the Target store located at  1525 W. Power Road in Mesa.

Cardon Children’s Medical Center Safety and Injury Prevention staff will have 100 car seats to give out to families who need one.

Four out of five car seats are used incorrectly, according to the American Automobile Association. Don’t make these tragic mistakes!

Families can have a child’s car seat recertified, learn how to install a seat correctly or get a free car seat.

More RAK Resources on vehicle safety seats

Watch this video to see what a safety check event looks like:


Why carpooling parents skip booster seats

Plenty of parents drive children other than their own in carpools, but according to new study findings published in the February issue of Pediatrics, they don’t consistently use booster seats for these “guest passengers.”

In this particular study, about three-quarters of the 4- to 8-year-olds using a seat

Courtesy U.S. Dept. of Transportation

belt were doing so in accordance with the laws in their state. But state laws don’t always comply with the national recommendations.

National recommendations encourage the use of booster seats until a child reaches 57 inches, the average height of an 11-year-old.

State booster seat laws were associated with higher safety seat use, regardless of the carpooling factor, even though half of parents admit to not knowing the age cited in their state booster seat law. Another 20 percent guessed incorrectly.

So, take a guess. What’s the law for booster seats in Arizona?

Arizona is one of only 3 states that currently does not have a law requiring children to be restrained in a booster seat, says Sara Bode, M.D., a pediatrician and Arizona AAP member who practices at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. Current law only requires car seats for children 5 years or younger.

Part of the lower incidence of use may be due to a lack of state booster seat laws, says Bode. There is a current house bill this legislative session that has passed initial committee hearings. House Bill 2452 would mandate booster seats for children up to age 8 or until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Booster seats are just as important as infant and toddler seats, says Bode. They allow correct positioning of the seat belt across the chest and hips.

Kids can easily slip out of a seat belt during a crash or can suffer serious or fatal injuries to the neck and abdomen. In her work at Phoenix Children’s, Bode has seen many children who have experienced trauma from a motor vehicle injury.

Don’t make these five tragic car seat mistakes!

“I personally have taken care of a family who suffered from a motor vehicle crash,” says Bode. “Their 5 year-old wasn’t properly restrained. As a result, she suffered a serious abdominal injury requiring surgery and a prolonged hospital stay.”

Kids who are seated in a booster seat in the rear of the car are 45% less likely to be injured in a crash as compared to those using a seat belt alone, according to data gathered by SafeKidsUSA, a nationwide network of organizations working to prevent unintentional childhood injury.

Study authors conclude that social norms may play a big role in booster seat use, too. As far as carpools go, there are inherent difficulties with the transfer of car seats between parents and carpool drivers, says Bode. It’s just one more thing for parents to do during a busy time of the day.

How do we change the social norm?  Bode suggests that daycares and schools could play a large role in educating parents on the importance of use as well as providing  expectations for proper restraint, and a designated area to store booster seats during the school day.

Plenty of community resources are available to help parents use booster seats properly. Check out our RAK Car Seat Safety Local Resource Page here.

Raising Arizona Kids Safety Seat Resource page

Here’s a list of where to get help around the Valley for car seat safety checks, recalls, and other information on how to keep babies, toddlers, and older kids safe in vehicles.

Know of resources we’ve missed? Use the comments section and we’ll add to our list once we verify your suggestion. Thanks!


Cardon Children’s Medical Center Car Seat Safety Tips and email contact information for parents with questions

Phoenix Children’s Hospital Injury Prevention features the Car Seat Helper App; also more on their Kids Ride Safe program

AAA Arizona offers assistance from certified car seat technicians. Contact the AAA Traffic Safety Educator to schedule an appointment

National Highway and Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) car seat safety inspection stations in the Greater Phoenix area

Valley Fire Departments: Links to individual station web site pages on car seat inspection and safety checks. Call first to make sure a certified technician will be on site:

Avondale Fire Department

Chandler Fire Department

Gilbert Fire Department

Mesa Fire Department

Peoria Fire Department

Phoenix Fire Department

Scottsdale Fire Department

Surprise Fire Department

Tolleson Fire Department

National Highway Traffic and Safety Association has the latest car seat recommendations for kids and updates on state-by-state laws

Safe Kids USA features research on car seats and placement and motor vehicle safety facts sheets.


How to decrease the risk of child sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse. How do you know if your child is at risk?

According to the American Psychological Association, (APA) children and adolescents, regardless of their race, culture, or economic status, appear to be at approximately equal risk for sexual victimization.

Statistics show that girls are sexually abused more often than boys are; but that may be because of a suspected tendency among boys and men to not report an incident.

Who is most likely to be an abuser? The majority of sexual offenders are not strangers to the child; rather, they are more likely to be family members or other adults who are otherwise known to the child. 

Preventing the likelihood of child sexual abuse in any community takes education and awareness, says Darkness to Light, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse through public education and awareness.

Darkness to Light has developed  a prevention training program for adults, Stewards of Children, that attempts to change beliefs, actions and attitudes towards child sexual abuse, and offers simple strategies for protecting children.

Because it is ultimately the responsibility of adults to make sure children are safe, training programs like Stewards of Children can help to make sure everyone in a community is educated on the potential signs of abuse and the shared responsibility of protecting children.

Adults bear the burden of stepping up and speaking out when something doesn’t look or feel right with respect to the well being of a child.

Not just one’s own children. ANY child.

Phoenix Children’s Hospital will host a FREE Stewards of Children three hour workshop on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Rosenberg Medical Plaza, Cohen Conference Center, 1920 E. Cambridge Road, located on the PCH main campus.

Participants are strongly encouraged to register by January 5th, 2012. 


Parents, youth sports organizations, coaches, camp counselors, youth service organizations, teachers, school personnel and faith centers are encouraged to attend.

The hope is to inspire individuals to take personal responsibility in preventing child sexual abuse by presenting facts.

For example, did you know that…

  • the median age for reported sexual abuse is age nine?
  • that people who abuse children often look and act just like everyone else, and often go out of their way to appear trustworthy to gain access to children?
  •  that most child victims never report the abuse?

The typical advice “Don’t Talk to Strangers” doesn’t apply in this case, says the APA. Most sexual perpetrators are known to their victims.

Teach children at an early age to express affection to others on their own terms. Do not instruct children to give relatives hugs and kisses.  Teach your children basic sexual education, says the APA.

And my favorite: Establish good, strong communication skills with children from a very early age by listening attentively to what they have to say. Make sure they know they can come to you and say anything, and that they will be loved…and believed.

More tips from the APA on protecting children.

On what we can learn from Penn State, according to Darkness to Light.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix established a Safe Environment Training Office in the wake of child sexual abuse cases in church communities. They offer a comprehensive web listing on local, state and national resources for families, including the steps to take when reporting an abuse in any community in Arizona.


Shopping for toys? How to make sure they are safe

Put safety at the top of the list when choosing toys for young children, says the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Most parents are aware of the “age-appropriate” factor when they shop, says Sue Braga, AZAAP executive director.

But Braga adds that some may not realize that the high-tech toys that top the list for some kids can come with built-in risks to safety.

Look for a toy that is sturdy, made with non-toxic materials, isn’t too loud, and if it is an electric toy, that it is UL approved, says the AAP.

Ten tips from on how to make sure toys are safe.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission highlights these five hazards that have caused injury or death in recent years:

  • Toys with small magnets, which can be swallowed and lead to serious medical problems if two or more magnets are swallowed.
  •  Toys with lithium button batteries that can be easily removed without a screwdriver and can be a hazard if swallowed.

Read more on what happens when a child swallows a button battery–and about the symptoms -in our RAK archives.

  •  Lead paint on recalled toys.
  •  Metals in children’s jewelry, which can include lead, cadmium and other toxic metals. Some manufacturers, now barred from using lead in children’s toys, began substituting cadmium, another dangerous metal.
  •  Any shooting toys or toys that have pieces that shoot or fly off. Reminder: BB guns and air guns are not actually “toys.” More on BB gun safety.

December has been designated National Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Do your homework, says the AZAAP—don’t assume that all toys on your child’s list are one hundred percent safe.

Other sites that can help parents choose safe toys:


Recalls from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Are your kids “sexting”? How to talk about it

Everybody has an opinion on teens and the use of digital communication and social media. Technology is truly changing the way kids interact with each other—and that can be challenging for parents in many ways.

It’s good, because it allows them to swiftly connect with their friends— or even their parents or other relatives. It’s not so good, because it swallows them up and prevents them from forging relationships the way we did it…in the way of past generations. It’s unfamiliar territory.

Courtesy State of Rhode Island, Office of the Attorney General

But on the topic of “sexting,” most parents agree: sending sexually explicit messages of themselves or others over cyberspace is a very bad idea.

In fact, depending on the type of material we’re talking about, and the location from where it was sent or received, participating in sexting can potentially violate child pornography laws.

Read more on Arizona’s “sexting” law, Senate Bill 1266, which took affect in July 2010, from the University of Arizona’s Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth and Families.

A new study to be published in the January 2012 issue of Pediatrics (online today) found that 2.5 percent of the youth surveyed participated in some form of sexting in the past year.

The subjects in the survey included 1,560 Internet users ages 10 through 17.  They were surveyed about their experiences with appearing in, creating, or receiving sexual images or videos.

Only one percent of those surveyed participated in sharing images that could potentially violate child pornography laws.

Most kids who participated in sexting said they did it as a prank, or while they were in a relationship. A significant number said that drug and alcohol abuse was a factor that influenced the behavior.

Why do kids “sext”? Read a fact sheet with information from the State of Rhode Island Attorney General’s office.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that one in five teens say they have sent electronically or posted online nude or semi-nude photos or video of themselves.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Campaign say that young people must be educated on the possible consequences of sexting.

How should parents talk to their kids?

Remind them to think of anything they post on social media as a “cyber tattoo,” a searchable something that will be around as they or their friends apply for college, jobs and navigate through life.

It’s a challenge for today’s kids, who are just beginning to develop impulse control, to stop for a moment and think. That’s why it’s crucial for parents to talk to their kids.

Once a user hits “send” –be it from a phone or a computer or other digital device– it effectively is up for grabs. Ask your child to think before hitting “send:” would I want my grandma, my teacher, my baby sister, to see this?

Read more recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on how parents can talk to kids about sexting and their digital footprint, no matter how savvy parents are themselves are about today’s technology.

The State of Rhode Island also provides these useful tips on how to talk to kids about “sexting.”

Find general internet safety information for parents from the Arizona Attorney General’s office.