Outdoor Winter Safety

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

No matter the season, there is always plenty of activities that coincide with the time of year and weather. As winter approaches, family favorites like building a snowman, sledding, and ice skating will be on the rise. Those wanting a little more adventure will take part in snowmobiling or head to the slopes for skiing and snowboarding. Whichever winter activity you enjoy the best, it is important to not lose track of important safety practices.

Check the Weather – The weather can change in the blink of an eye. Always be prepared by checking your local weather report, especially if your winter activity requires travel. Having a disaster preparation kit in your car is also a great practice in case you get stranded. You never know when you or someone else you come across may need it.

Dress Appropriately – Avoid frostbite and hypothermia at all costs by covering up from head to toe. A heavy jacket, scarves, gloves/mittens, hats, snow pants, and warm boots can keep you warm while at play. Keep waterproof in mind when purchasing these items. Staying dry is essential.

Check the Ice – You can’t judge always the strength of ice simply by its appearance. Be sure to test the ice, always make sure you are not alone when participating in activities involving ice, and have a back-up plan in place in case someone falls in the ice (this may include a plastic bottle with 50’ to 70’ of nylon rope attached).

Sledding Safety – Sledding is a favorite activity of many, but tens of thousands individuals visit hospital rooms each year due to sledding incidents, including very serious head injuries. Although sledding seems like harmless fun, making sure to select a safe location is key. Avoid hillsides ending near a street, parking lot, pond, trees, and fence. Also check for other hidden obstacles like bumps, rocks, or poles. Go for snowy hills rather than icy to avoid a rough landing if you fall. It is best to sled during the daytime, but if you chose to go at night be sure the area is well-lit and potential hazards are visible. The best sleds to use are those that can be steered by the rider with brakes to slow them down. After a successful ride down a hill be sure to quickly move out of the way for others that may be following behind you.

Snow Shoveling – Although this may not be the most fun activity, shoveling is definitely a must for those with a lot of snowfall. Shoveling can be great exercise; however, individuals over the age of 40 who are relatively inactive should take it easy and not take on too much at a time without consulting their doctor. Avoid eating and smoking when shoveling. Try pushing the snow forward rather than lifting, but if you have to lift be sure to use your legs.

These safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are held each year throughout North America. Learn more at www.progressiveag.org

Making Safety A Priority In Your Christmas Toy Shopping Endeavors

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

As soon as we have our fill of turkey on Thanksgiving Day, many of us make our plans for Black Friday and the 26 additional shopping days to follow. On the top of many people’s lists is the must-have, latest sensations in toys! Something that many fail to keep in mind while shopping is safety. The search for the perfect gift to place under the tree can quickly be tarnished by safety recalls and hidden hazards! Of all recalled children’s items in recent years, toys have been the largest category.

Most toys today do come with safety warnings on the packaging, including where the product is made, as well as labeling as to age-appropriateness of the toy. However, in the hustle & bustle of checking off our list and getting the items before they are out of stock, many do not take the time to research these essential key warnings. In addition to dangers from choking hazards due to small pieces or faulty construction, there is the worry of lead paint and other deadly chemicals being used. Most times it is not who makes the toys that matters, but how they are manufactured. As we have seen in the past, many big name brands can still have issues with safety recalls.

Before you start making your toy list and checking it twice, be sure to follow this checklist to avoid problems down the road:

  1. Make sure the toy is age-appropriate by reading the label.
  2. Check for small, loose parts that could be swallowed by young children.
  3. Infants & toddlers love to chew on toys, so make sure no parts on the toy could easily be bitten off and swallowed.
  4. For younger children, avoid items with string, straps or ribbons longer than seven inches to evade strangulation. Also, any toys with throwing or shooting projectiles should be avoided for children under the age of eight to prevent eye-related injuries.
  5. Fabric toys should be labeled as flame retardant or flame resistant. Electrical toys with batteries or electric plugs pose a burn hazard so they should be avoided for kids under eight.
  6. Avoid puzzles, figures, and dolls with powerful magnets, as they can be fatal if swallowed by children.
  7. Look carefully for points, edges, and breakable parts that could be sharp and injury a child.
  8. If you purchase items for a child to ride on (scooter, bicycle, roller skates, etc…), make sure it is sturdy & stable and follow-up with good safety equipment like knee pads, elbow pads, & helmets.
  9. Make sure the toys have a non-toxic, durable finish and be sure they contain no unhealthy chemicals (Phthalates, lead, etc…).
  10. Before you wrap it up, check to make sure the toy has not already been recalled. With the hottest toys of today becoming the most terrifying of tomorrow, concerned parents can keep up-to-date with all the recall notifications by signing up with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) at cpsc.gov The website is also a great resource to use in identifying recalls of current toys your child might have. If your child has outgrown a toy and you want to donate to a thrift shop or daycare, help save the life of another child by looking into the product’s safety before it leaves your house.

Additionally, sometimes it is not necessarily the toy, but the packaging that can pose a danger to your child. Hard plastic packaging can present a hazard when opening and potentially cut a child. It is always best to leave the opening of a package and its assembly to a responsible adult. Also, it is always recommended to supervise children carefully when they play with their toys. Sometimes toys that seem safe can be dangerous if used incorrectly. If you have both older and younger children in the house, it is important to separate toys and keep potentially dangerous toys out of the reach of younger children.

Now some of this may seem like you are being overly-protective in selecting the perfect toy for your child, but you can never be too careful! According to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), toy-related injuries sent almost 73,000 children under the age of five to emergency rooms in 2005. Twenty children also died from toy-related injuries that same year. More than 170 million units of jewelry — most made in China and marketed to children in this country — have been recalled since 2004, according to Scott Wolfson of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Hopefully by following these simple tips and researching children’s toys before you make your final purchase, you will be embarking on a safe, healthy, & happy holiday season!

Halloween Safety Tips

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

From dressing up like pirates and princesses to ghosts and goblins, Halloween is a fun and exciting time for many children. Each year, children look forward to parties, haunted houses & hayrides, and of course adventuring through the neighborhood, door-to-door in search of candy. Trick or treat dates and times may be different in each town, but one thing that should remain constant is making safety a priority!  Here are some safety tips to ensure your child continues to have good memories and enjoy Halloween for years to come.

  1. Young children should never go trick or treating alone! They should always be accompanied by a parent or a responsible and trusted adult.
  2. For older children, they should always go trick or treating in groups and stick together at all times. If your child would happen to get lost, encourage them to stay in well-lit areas and go to a familiar residence they know is safe to ask for help (of if they have a cell phone use it to call home). Planning a trick or treating route in advance is perfect for knowing where your child is expected to be at all times.
  3. Walk, don’t run from house to house! Be sure to use sidewalks whenever possible and look both ways before crossing the street.
  4. Follow the trick or treating guidelines set forth by your community and keep track of the time. Many residents in the community will be expecting children to be out trick or treating between a designated time period and will be looking out for their safety during that time. After the time has lapsed and in dark conditions, there is a greater chance for incidents and accidents to occur.
  5. Children should wear reflectors or reflective tape on their costumes & treat bags, as well as carry a flashlight or a glow stick. This will help make them more visible to others and vehicles on the road.
  6. Encourage your children to hold off eating any of their candy & treats until they are properly inspected by you. Never eat anything that is not completely sealed or is unwrapped. Children should also avoid eating homemade treats from anyone they do not know.
  7. Children should never go into the home or car of stranger. This may seem appealing to a child in adverse weather conditions where they may be cold or wet due to rain; therefore, it is important to remind them not to do so, even if you think they know better.
  8. Children should stay close to home and trick or treat in neighborhoods they are familiar with.
  9. Sometimes the biggest safety concern can be the costume itself. Make sure costumes are flame resistant and not too long to avoid tripping. Accessories like toy swords & knives should be soft and flexible. Make sure masks don’t impair vision and shoes are comfortable and safe for walking.
  10. Halloween does not necessarily have to be unhealthy! Walking during trick or treating is a great form of exercise. Also, you can pledge to give healthier snacks or non-food items to help children that may have food allergies. Painting a pumpkin teal and setting in on your front porch, alerts parents that your home is safe for a child with food allergies.

These Halloween safety tips are examples of what children learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are held each year throughout North America. Learn more about the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program at www.progressiveag.org

T or T

Personal Safety is as Important for Adults as it is Children

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

We often tell our children to beware of strangers and give them helpful advice on protecting themselves if left home alone or faced with a potentially dangerous situation; however, how often do we take our own advice? For many of us, we feel safe in our homes and our neighborhoods. We watch the news reports and think to ourselves, “that would never happen here” or “that would never happen to me!” Unfortunately, just like accidents, incidents of crime can happen when you least expect it! It is always best to prepare yourself and do your part to keep you and your family safe!

Adopting a few simple day-to-day safety practices can help keep you stay protected.

  • Remember to Lock-up: Before we go to bed each evening, we usually check to make sure the front door to our home is locked; however, we sometimes forget to secure that windows and other entrances are locked. It is worth taking a few extra minutes each evening to double check the security of your home, so you can go to bed with peace of mind.
  • Use a Buddy System: We always talk to our children about safety in numbers and going places in pairs; however, as adults we put ourselves in dangerous situations walking by ourselves late at night to get home or to our car. Don’t be afraid to ask someone you trust to walk with you. Keeping pepper spray and a flashlight with you is a good idea. Keep your car keys in your hand as you approach your vehicle, so you can set off the alarms to scare off any potential culprits if you feel unsafe. Staying alert, walking with confidence, avoiding the use of headphones, and planning your route ahead of time can aid in your safety.
  • Share Schedules: We have likely all been in a situation where someone we care about is running late. We call their cell phone, but it goes straight to voice-mail due to a dead battery or being in a limited service area. By sharing schedules with your family and friends, our loved ones can know where we are and we can know where they are. This can help in tracking someone down in the event of an emergency and although we don’t want to think about it, can aid in helping authorities if someone went missing.
  • Who’s at the Door?: In the same way we tell our children not to answer the door for strangers, we need to do the same! We can be too trusting and are quick to open the door as soon as we hear a knock or the doorbell. It is ok to ask someone to identify themselves before you open the door if you do not have a good visual of the person.

These personal safety tips are examples of what children & families learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are held each year throughout North America. Learn more about the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program at www.progressiveag.org

Kick-off the Fall Season with a Fail Safe Fire Plan

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Each and every one of us know a friend, neighbor, or family member that has been impacted by a fire. Whether it was a house, garage, barn, or even gas grill fire, families have likely experienced great losses including their home, valued possessions, animals or pets, and even more devastating beloved family members. As we get ready for the fall season and celebrate National Fire Prevention Week next month, here are a few important tips to help prepare your family in the event of a fire:

  • Establish a Fire Safety Plan – Work as a family to develop an escape plan in the event of a home or barn fire. Instead of just creating a fire safety plan, put it to the test and demonstrate exactly what you would do if a fire occurred. Take a note from the schools and have random fire drills at various times throughout the year. Determine the best escape route. Depending on where the fire is occurring you should try and identify more than one way to vacate. Practice where you would meet as a family to assure everyone’s safety and what you should say when calling 911 or the fire department. Keep those important numbers stored as a contact in your cell phone, as well as written down and placed in a central location that can easily be found by all in the event of a fire or other emergency.
  • Install Smoke Alarms – A smoke alarm can sometimes be your first alert to a fire and can ultimately save your life! Make sure a smoke alarm is installed on every floor of your home and replace them every 10 years. Also, don’t forget to check the batteries! On a monthly basis, check to assure smoke alarm batteries are working properly and change the batteries each year.
  • Know the Proper Use of a Fire Extinguisher – Many of us know what a fire extinguisher is; however, many of us our guilty of not knowing how to properly use it. As a family, learn about the different types of fire extinguishers and practice how to use them properly. Keep fire extinguishers in an easily accessible place and check gauges regularly to make sure they are in working condition if need to be used in an emergency.

Fire safety is one of the most popular topics taught at a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®. Last year alone, 58% of our 396 Safety Days held a station on fire safety. These fire safety tips are examples of what children learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day®, which are held each year throughout North America. Learn more about the Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® program at www.progressiveag.org

Fire Safety Picture

A participant learns the correct way to use a fire extinguisher at a 2014 Progressive Agriculture Safety Day® held in Eastern Iowa.

Back to School Safety Tips

By: Jana L. Davidson, Education Content Specialist for the Progressive Agriculture Foundation

Notebooks…check, pens & pencils…check, new clothes…check, safety…wait what? For many families, this is a very busy time of year! Just likes it seems to do every year, summer went by too fast and those three little words most kids dread to hear “BACK TO SCHOOL” are being echoed around the country. Over the past few weeks, we tried squeezing in our last family getaways and headed out to the stores for all the last minute back to school necessities, but as we officially kick-off another school year it is important to discuss SAFETY! Here are a few quick tips to assure your child is starting the school year off right:

  • When back to school shopping, be sure to select a backpack that is ergonomically designed. Remind your child to not over-stuff their backpack, they should not weigh more that 10%-20% of your child’s weight. Also, encourage them to use both straps to evenly distribute weight.
  • Getting back in the school routine after summer break can be challenging, but by assuring your child is getting a good night sleep, get in their vitamin C, and starting of each morning with a healthy breakfast, they will be better equip to fight off the germs, prevent illness, and will be more alert during the school day.
  • Encourage your children to always walk on sidewalks. If there isn’t one, they should walk on the left side of the road facing the oncoming traffic.
  • The U.S. National Safety Council offers these suggestions regarding bus safety: Walk your child to the bus stop on the first day of school and show the child the appropriate ways to board and exit the bus. Tell your child to stand at least 6 feet back from the curb while waiting for the bus. If your child must cross in front of the bus, teach him or her to walk on the curb until he or she is 12 feet ahead of the bus. Make sure your child knows that he or she should always be able to see the bus driver, and that the bus driver should always be able to see the child.
  • If you are driving your child to and from school, always make sure your child wears a seat belt and children 12 & under should sit in the backseat. Depending on the size and weight of your child, a booster seat may still be needed.
  • You never know when the school may need to reach a parent in the event of an emergency. If you have moved or changed your phone number or e-mail since the end of the last school year, be sure you to notify the school with the change.
  • Make it a point to talk to your child about their day at school, whether in the car ride home or over dinner. This will help you identify any signs of bullying or other issues that may be going on at school and allow you to address the problem early on.

For a complete list of back to school safety tips, visit the National Safety Council http://www.nsc.org/Safety_Home/SafetyObservances/Pages/BackToSchoolSafety.aspx

These safety tips are examples of what children learn when they attend a Progressive Agriculture Safety Day, which are held each year in more than 400 local communities throughout North America. To learn more about the Safety Day program, visit our website at http://www.progressiveag.org