Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Child Passenger Safety Week: Research, Register, and Reach Out to Help Others

As the father of a young son, I know the worries that accompany the joys of parenthood.

As a parent you will always worry. But, there will come a day when you can worry less: maybe once you see a son or daughter graduate college, find career success, or get married. And until then, it’s up to us to keep our children safe.

That’s why we’re reaching out directly to parents and to organizations committed to protecting children about car seat safety as part of Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs from September 14-20. We want everyone to know that protecting children means researching the correct car seat, making sure it’s registered so you’re notified of any safety recalls, and -- if you’re as committed to this issue as we are at NHTSA -- to reaching out and spreading the word about car seat safety on social media this week.

One of the first purchases for any new parent is a car seat. Your child cannot travel safely unless he or she is restrained in a car seat that is appropriate for your child and that has been been properly installed. But how are parents to know what seat is best? With the help of NHTSA’s new Car Seat Finder every parent or caregiver can quickly and easily identify the type of car seat that will best protect your child. Additionally, our Parents Central Page at SaferCar.gov offers lots of other helpful tips for protecting our kids.

But our responsibilities don’t end with the selection and purchase of the right car seat or booster seat. In order to be informed of any possible safety recalls your car seat must be registered with the manufacturer. Yet far too many fail to register their seats.

As soon as you bring a new car seat home, immediately mail the postage-paid registration car that comes with it. If you can’t find the card, don’t worry; this web page allows you to register your seat online.

Our “SaferCar” app for iOS -- and the new Android version we recently launched -- also offer access to recall information, NHTSA’s 5-Star Safety Ratings, and other helpful information. “Snail mail” also remains a central way to notify Americans of safety recalls, which is why NHTSA recently mandated that all manufacturers use a new, distinctive label on required mailings so that notices aren’t lost among the junk mail.

Reach Out.
If you or your organization wants to help spread the word throughout Child Passenger Safety Week and beyond, we hope you’ll participate in our Twitter chat on September 17. You can follow the chat or participate by using the hashtag #therightseat. You can also enhance your engagement with your followers by using marketing materials we’ve made available to the public at trafficsafetymarketing.gov and sharing brief videos on the topic from our Vine page.

It’s About Keeping Kids Safe in Car Seats
If you want to be sure your car seat or booster seat is safe, or help others protect kids, then remember following steps.

When you hear about a car seat or booster seat recall, be sure to:
·         Find out which models and manufacture dates are involved.
·         Call the manufacturer or visit their Web site for more information and to verify if your car seat or booster seat has been recalled; or
·         Call NHTSA’s toll-free Auto Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236.

Before you call, have the following information:
·         Manufacturer’s name
·         Model Name
·         Model Number
·         Date of Manufacture

If your car seat is recalled get it fixed right away.
If you don’t have another car seat or booster seat to use, keep using the recalled seat while you wait for the repair kit—if the recall notice says you can. Using a recalled car seat or booster seat is almost always safer than letting a child ride in just a seat belt. Many problems are minor but some are serious. All problems should be fixed as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line is Our Kids’ Safety.
There will come a day when parents can worry less, but until then, it’s up to us to keep our children safe. 

- By David J.Friedman, Acting Administrator, NHTSA

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Recognizing Concussions

USA Today recently brought up the topic, “how do families with concussion concerns pick sports?” Although there is much talk in the news about youth football injuries, many other sports pose injury concerns for parents and athletes. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, soccer players have the same percentage of injuries that are concussions as football players. Soccer player Tori Bellucci told her concussion story earlier this year as part of the White House’s summit on concussions and youth sports. The summit shined a spotlight on the nation’s interest in finding new ways to identify, treat and prevent serious head injuries in youth athletes.

After a successful high school soccer career at Huntington High School, Bellucci was offered a full scholarship to play soccer at Towson, but the physical and emotional effects of multiple concussions made her realize the risks of continuing to competitively play the sport she loves. Tori elected not to play soccer in college after she suffered her fifth concussion.

“It changes the way you think and feel,” Bellucci, 18, said. “I was just like really sad, really kind of desperate type of feeling. I couldn’t do anything because of my head, so I would just be in my room with the shades drawn. I was like, ‘I don’t want to live like this anymore.’”

Unfortunately, the effects of initially unrecognized and repeated concussions meant Bellucci’s dream of playing soccer in college ended, but she continues to work hard to recover and remains active in sports by teaching young children how to play soccer. At the summit, President Obama referenced Bellucci’s experience as an example to other young athletes and parents about the commitment ahead of us to change perceptions and improve outcomes.

Safe Kids reports that every three minutes in the U.S., a child is seen in the emergency department for a concussion, yet 54 percent of athletes admit they have played injured. The CDC has great resources for parents and athletes for preventing, recognizing and treating sports injuries.

Signs of a concussion that coaches, athletic trainers and parents may notice:

·         Appears dazed or stunned
·         Is confused about assignment or position
·         Forgets an instruction
·         Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
·         Moves clumsily
·         Answers questions slowly
·         Loses consciousness (even briefly)
·         Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
·         Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall
·         Can’t recall events after hit or fall

Symptoms that athletes may report:

·         Headache or “pressure” in head
·         Nausea or vomiting
·         Balance problems or dizziness
·         Double or blurry vision
·         Sensitivity to light
·         Sensitivity to noise
·         Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
·         Concentration or memory problems
·         Confusion
·         Does not “feel right” or is “feeling down”

For an easy reference, visit the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma's easy concussion overview and click the graphic to download and print. For more information and stories from athletes, parents, coaches and athletic trainers, please visit:

Friday, September 5, 2014

How You Can Keep Kids Safe by Dr. Eichelberger

I have been a pediatric surgeon for over 35 years and have dedicated my life to saving the lives of injured children. Even though my surgical work is focused on saving kids once they are injured, I realized early on what an impact prevention and safety could make in the staggering number of injured children we saw each year. 

After years of treating these kids, I felt compelled to act and founded the National SAFE KIDS Campaign with Herta Feeley in 1987, which became Safe Kids Worldwide in 2005. Through research and data gathering, we learned over the years that kids of different age groups are primarily injured in certain ways that can be tracked, assessed and impacted with increased prevention tactics. Toddlers and young children have a higher occurrence of injuries from falls, while adolescents have higher incidence of injuries in motor vehicles because they're drivers now. We have to be careful in making sure that we're talking about the right group before we go thinking about prevention because sometimes prevention is not as relevant. 

I think that the approach to injury really focuses in on our communities because people ask themselves, “What can I do?” Believe it or not, there’s a lot you can do.  My lifelong quest to prevent childhood injuries has led to increased research, improved safety measures and significant change in awareness of child safety issues. You can find many valuable tips and life-saving advice at SafeKids.org, and other great prevention and safety websites. 

My daughter has three kids, and earlier this year I spent four days chasing them around, and I can tell you it’s a real challenge to keep kids safe. They are quick and inquisitive, all the things that you want kids to be. The problem is they put themselves in harms’ way and it’s our job to protect them from getting hurt, while allowing them to have fun. It’s a fine line between too much and too little.  

While visiting my daughter, I saw a man riding a bicycle who was approximately 220 pounds, and sitting in front of him on the handlebar was a 4-year-old that couldn’t have been more than 40 pounds. They’re riding this bicycle in a well-populated city in the United States. I asked my son-in-law, “Who is that? That is crazy because if they fall that child’s going to get crushed, and he shouldn’t be riding on the handlebars.” He responded, “Well, that’s our local pediatrician.” I was astonished. This person should not only be more informed than anyone else, but he should be sharing safety messages with all his patients and their parents while setting a good example to anyone that sees him in public.

There are a lot of people that are uninformed about ways to protect kids. Many people don’t see how they are responsible for the effects of an injury. That’s where the community steps in and assumes some responsibility through updated laws and state guidelines for care. Without these initiatives, such as simple helmet laws for children, we end up with millions of dollars in additional healthcare expenses and children that will never make an impact in our society.

As a surgeon, a parent and a grandparent, there are so many things we can do to make sure our kids live in a safer world. We’ve made tremendous progress in prevention over the last 25-30 years, but we still have children suffering needlessly from severe injuries. There are still 10,000 children dying every year from injuries and almost 200,000 children that are hospitalized each year because of injuries. There is plenty of room for improvement in all areas. Our society can make a bigger impact for saving injured kids.

In my experience treating injured children, most parents ask, “Why did this have to happen to my child?” and, “What could I have done to prevent this from happening?” These tough questions don’t have answers that comfort us, but the secret to saving many children is to ask some of these hard questions before the injuries occur.

- Martin R. Eichelberger, M.D., Professor of Surgery and of Pediatrics, George Washington University Children’s National Medical Center, Washington D.C.