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Teaching grandparents latest safety guidelines to keep kids well

"People who are grandparents today not only grew up in a world without car seats, smoke alarms or bike helmets, but also fewer cars on the road and fewer fire hazards in the home," says Georgina Nowak. Safe Kids Southeast Utah co-coordinator. "Parents of young children need to let their own parents know that important changes have been made in childcare,"

Accidental injury remains the number one killer of children ages 14 and under, but modern safety devices contributed to a 45-percent drop in accidental child deaths from 1987 to 2002.

A grandparent's home might not be "childproofed" with safety gates on the stairs, locks on the cabinets, a fence surrounding the pool and all potential poisons, including medicine, cleaning products and alcohol, locked out of reach.

"Before a child comes to visit, a relative who doesn't have young children at home should look for potential hazards at and below a child's eye level," says Nowak. "Pick up any small objects that could be a choking hazard, tie the cords of window blinds out of reach and lock up any matches or lighters."

Safe Kids Southeast Utah Chapter offers these reminders for grandparents who baby sit occasionally:

•Under Utah law all children up until the age of five years old must ride in a federally approved child safety seat whenever they are in a moving car.

Bigger kids should stay in a booster seat until they are 4'9" tall and at least 80 pounds. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully, and don't hesitate to call the manufacturer's loll free number if there are any questions. Kids under 13 should always sit in the back seat.

•In a car, the grandparents should always buckle up because grandchildren learn by watching them.

•Set the water heater to 120 degrees or below to prevent scald burns.

•Make sure grandchildren always wear a helmet when riding a bike, scooter, skateboard or inline skates. For skating and scooters, knee pads are also recommended. (Caregivers need to wear proper safety equipment too � remember that they are a role model.)

•If there are firearms in the home, store them unloaded and locked up and lock the ammunition in a separate place.

• Keep the number of the Poison Control Center hotline 800-222-1222, next to every phone in the home

•Learn first aid and CPR. Check local resources to see where and how classes are offered in the local area.

•In any hazardous setting, on a playground, around pools or water, in the kitchen, near traffic, or near stairs or unlocked windows, children should always be under active supervision, in sight and in reach at all times, with an adult paying undivided attention.

For more information about home safety and child proofing, call the local health department or visit

Safe Kids Southeast Utah works to prevent accidental childhood injury, the leading killer of children 14 and under.

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