Safety

From the Desk of DocSmo- Teen Driving Safety

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week (October 16th-22nd), an attempt to improve our awareness of the dangers young drivers face as well as giving parents ideas on how to reduce their young drivers’ chances of being injured in a car.  It is very tragic that on average 8 children a day die in preventable automobile accidents.  These are young, healthy, energetic, bright adolescents who die before their adult lives even begin.

During my pediatric career, I have witnessed improvement in both car safety and in the teaching of driving skills to teens.  I am a big fan of the graduated driver’s license.  My children benefited from the slow introduction of driving skills.   I also think  that automotive engineers have done a wonderful job over the past 30 years of improving the safety of cars.  I have seen teens walk away from crashes that would have surely killed a generation ago, protected by airbags, safety cages, restraint systems, and anti-roll technology.   My first car didn’t have a seat belt!

The highlight of National Teen Driver Safety Week campaign is to get parents more involved in teaching safe driving to their children.  Here are some suggestions for improving your teen’s driving skills:

-Drive with your teen as much as possible, the more the better.  Practice makes perfect.

-Be very clear about your expectations for your teen’s driving.  Lay out the rules and write them down. Make a formal agreement and get everyone to sign it.  Make sure your agreement addresses your teen’s car privileges as well as financial contributions to driving, cell phone use while driving, calling home when away from home, driving after dark, radio use while driving, driving non family members, and the consequences of driving infractions or breaking house rules.

– Share your rules with other parents.  Having similar rules for your child’s friends will make them easier for everyone to enforce.

-Lead by example.  Set a good example for your children by being a safe driver yourself.  Never drink and drive.  Be defensive in your driving.  Wear your seat belt and make sure your passengers do as well.  Don’t drive when you are too tired.

I am now going to share with you something that I invented that I think helped when my children were learning to drive.  I realized that the more I reminded (nagged)  my children to follow the rules the more they ignored me.  My reminders, instead of reinforcing the messages of safe driving, seemed only to emotionally agitate my children.  I therefore decided to communicate with them using “hand signals” to remind them of my safe driving tips.  Here are Dr Smolen’s hand signals for safe driving:

– “1 finger then  10”.   Meaning- stay 1 car length back for every 10 miles per hour.  Example- 3 car lengths back at 30 mph.

– “Repeated downward hand motion”.  Meaning- Don’t drive too fast.  Stay BELOW the speed limit.

– “The double head turn with fingers pointing both ways.”  Meaning-  Look twice before you pull out into oncoming traffic.

-“Shake head no with phone to ear”- Meaning- No talking, texting, surfing or anything else with the phone while driving.

– “2 fingers pointing from eyes”- Meaning-  Keep your eyes on the road!

Feel free not only to use my hand signal method of communication with your young driver, but also to add your own variations.  It was actually fun to talk to my children with just hand signals and have them know exactly what I was talking about.  I am posting some web resources for you to check out if you want to read more on this subject.  You can find a sample driving agreement to use as a starting point on the CDC website.  Good luck and happy driving.

 
Slow Down:

 
Pay Attention:

 
No Cell:

 
Look Two Ways:

 
1 per 10:

References:

CDC – Teen Driving – Parents Are the Key Homepage

Get Behind National Teen Driver Safety Week (NTDSW)

CDC – Teen Driving – Graduated Driver Licensing – Parents Are the Key

 

From the desk of Doc Smo: Sunscreen Essentials (Article)

As you send your children off to the wilds of summer camp, the pool, the lake, and other very sun-intense places, you should know some basic facts about young people and exposure to intense sunlight that includes ultraviolet rays. Young people are very susceptible to photo damage of their skin for number of reasons:
 
*Their skin is thinner than adults, and radiation presumably penetrates that much deeper

*They haven’t been out in the sun as much, and they therefore have less pigmentation to act as a natural sunscreen and to limit photo damage

*They are less aware of their surroundings and the danger intense sun exposure poses for them.

*They are therefore much less likely to protect themselves by getting out of the sunlight.

*Since sun damage may take more than 25 years to show itself, very young children are much more likely to live long enough for light-induced tumors actually to form.

*Finally, young children are more likely to expose more skin to the sun because they often lack inhibition to being naked or semi-naked.
 
If all that isn’t enough, consider the following data collected a number of years ago. People who had a severe BLISTERING sunburn in childhood have increased their chance of the deadliest type of skin cancer–melanoma skin cancer–tenfold! That’s right, they were TEN TIMES more likely to develop skin cancer than their peers who had not had severe skin damage as a child. The genetic injury to the skin cells that ultraviolet radiation causes is permanent and will be carried with your child for the rest of their days. I don’t think there is any doubt that a BLISTERING sunburn is really bad for you and your children.
 
Let’s review some things you need to consider at the beginning of the summer to make your next day in the sun as safe as possible:
 
*Use clothing with tight weaving or added sun protection to cover your children as much as possible. Hats, special swim clothes, and sunglasses with UV protection are great. Try to get clothes with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of at least 25 or better.

*Try never to talk about a “healthy tan,” and make sure you set a good example by protecting your skin as well.

*Avoid prolonged outdoor activities at peak sun times: 10am to 2pm.

*Try to stay in shade whenever possible.

*In children six months or older, use a good sunscreen on areas most prone to sun damage (THE TOPS): top of nose, top ears, top of feet, and top of shoulders. I recommend sunscreens with either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Blue Lizard and Vanicream are two of my favorites. Put them on frequently and liberally!

*Early summer seems to be the time of year for the worst burns. Be especially careful in May/June.
 
Have fun, but be smart about it.

Antiperspirant and Deodorant Facts…No Sweat! (Pedcast)

Got a smelly teen on your hands? Get the stink on the latest developments regarding antiperspirant, deodorants, and your child’s long term health.


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Stopping Bug Bites Before They Happen (Pedcast)

Learn what is known about insect bites and how to avoid them in your children. Enhance your child’s summer outdoor experience with safe insect repellant practices.

 

SmoNotes:

1.

Zielinski-Gutierrez, Emily & Robert A. Writz. Protection Against Mosquitoes, Ticks, and Other Insects and Arthropods. Center for Disease Control, 27 July 2009. Web. Sep. 2010 .

2.

Helmenstine, Anne Marie Natural Mosquito Repellents. About.com, Mar. 2009. Web. Sep. 2010 .

3.

Wong, Cathy Natural Mosquito Repellents: Which Natural Mosquito Repellents Work Best? About.com, June 2006. Web. Sep. 2010 .

4.

Griffin, Morgan R. & Michael W. Smith. Safer Bug Spray: Natural Bug Repellents. WebMD: Healthy Child, 09 June 2009. Web. Sep. 2010 .

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Subscribe on iTunes!

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All Rights Reserved.

 

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