Break Point!

Volume 2, Issue 11 View the Archives November, 1999
BreakPoint Falls for Autumn
Enjoying the Fall Safely
In the Woods: Hunting Safety
Remember the "Extras" When Purchasing Gifts for the Holidays
The Last Word…
Choosing Age Appropriate Toys for Christmas
Santa's Little Helpers
Next Month in Injury Prevention

Break Point Falls for Autumn

Kathy O'Day
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute, Injury Prevention Program

The weather has begun to change, the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees and the days are getting shorter. That is the signal that the fall season is upon us. Autumn brings not only changes in the weather but also changes in safety issues. Many counties still have leaf-burning seasons and wet leaves pose threats not only to pedestrians but motor vehicles as well. This month Break Point will give tips on how to enjoy this time of year.

Many of us dread the thought that there are only 55 days until Christmas and the shopping season is even shorter. Trying to think of the gift ideas this Christmas? The perfect toy for a child is a toy that is age appropriate and safe. There are many toys on the market that can pose hazards to young children. BreakPoint will give tips on what is safe and fun for children of all ages.

Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at (708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy O'Day with any comments or questions.

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Enjoying the Fall Safely

The air is beginning to chill; the leaves are turning brown and have begun to fall from the trees. This is the time of the year when the smell of burning leaves fills the air. Many counties have placed bans on this fall ritual. There are not only the dangers of fires and burns but risks for those who suffer from asthma. This can be a life threatening time of year. Before you burn your yard waste, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Be familiar with state or local laws regarding the burning of leaves. Such activity could be prohibited in your area.
  • Always burn leaves, grasses, or hedge clippings in a controlled area, preferably in a metal barrel or on barren ground.
  • Do not use any fluids to start the flame. Dry leaves are highly combustible and the use of fluid could cause a fire that can't be contained.
  • Keep children away from the area when burning leaves.
  • Keep a garden hose accessible to put out flames if necessary.
  • Do not drink and burn leaves or do yard work.

As the weather begins to change and the temperatures drop rapidly in the evenings, people will begin to use their furnaces. Fall safety inside the home should be a priority before using your furnace:

  • Have your furnace serviced and cleaned before turning it on. An authorized service technician should do all repairs.
  • Remember, if you smell gas, leave the house and call for help at a neighbor's house.
  • Have your fireplace chimney checked once a year, to avoid a chimney fire.
  • Install a Carbon monoxide alarm.

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In the Woods: Hunting Safety

November 1st. marks the beginning of the hunting season in Illinois. Thousands of hunters will get their gear together in that quest for the elusive "8 pointer" or white tail. Hunting is a serious sport for those who enjoy it, but it can be a dangerous sport.

Hunting safety is a very important component of the sport and should be taken seriously. Here are several rules that should be followed when hunting:

  • It is unlawful to hunt deer with any shotgun, muzzleloader or handgun when not wearing a solid blaze orange cap or hat and an upper outer garment displaying at least 400 square inches of blaze orange material.
  • It is a proven fact that alcohol will impair judgment and coordination. Never mix alcohol with firearms and hunting, it could cost you your life or the life of another hunter.
  • Before starting your trip, be sure to tell someone where you are going to be and when you will return.
  • Be aware of hypothermia. Be prepared for an emergency situation. Carry survival equipment with you and know how to prevent hypothermia in case it occurs.
  • Carry a cell phone for outgoing emergency calls.
Gun Safety:
  • Always keep guns and ammunitions separate. Keep guns away from children and stored in a locked gun safe. It is best to put trigger locks on your guns when not in use.
  • Make sure to treat every gun as if it were loaded. Check for shells in the magazine every time you pick it up. Never point a gun at another person.
  • Keep the muzzle of the gun pointed in a safe direction away from others.
  • If you take aim at something make sure that you intend to shoot it.
  • Never take the safety off the gun until the instant you are ready to shoot.
  • When approaching an obstacle that must be climbed, unload your firearm. An unintended fall can result in discharge of the firearm and injury to you or others.

Tree Stand Safety:

The use of tree stands when hunting is an essential part of the sport. Fact: hundreds of hunters are injured or killed each year from falls from tree stands. Spinal cord injuries are common. When shopping for a tree stand invest your money wisely in a sturdy stand with a full body harness that will hold you upright and distribute the load of a fall across your chest and pelvic girdle. Other practices that will help avoid injuries include:

  • Be sure your portable platform is securely chained or strapped to the tree. Make sure to check the platform for any loose bolts and screws before and after you use it.
  • Never attempt to use a permanent tree stand that you are unsure of.
  • Never hunt in a tree stand without a safety belt! Use the safety belt on the way up the tree and on the way down.
  • Never climb with a firearm! Raise and lower the gun with a rope. Always make sure the firearm is unloaded.

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Remember the "Extras" When Purchasing Gifts for the Holidays

When buying sleds, bicycles, in-line skates or skateboards for the holidays it is important to remember the proper protective gear that goes along with the gift.

Injuries occur when sporting equipment is used without the proper protective gear. It is important to note that skill and maturity also play a role in safe sporting. Here are some tips to remember when buying sports equipment.

  • Include protective gear as part of the gift when giving bicycles, in-line skates and skateboards. Gear should include elbow pads, kneepads, helmet and wrist guards.
  • Buy retro reflective clothing, stickers or bike reflectors for an older child who may be riding in or skating at dawn, dusk or at night.
  • Give a bicycle horn or a stroke light as stocking stuffers.
  • When buying a sled, make sure it has a sturdy construction and has no jagged or sharp edges. The sled should have a steering mechanism and can be easily pulled by a child.
  • When giving skis, be sure to include goggles. Helmets provide extra protection for the skier.

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The Last Word…

Sunday October 31st was the day that the clocks were turned back one hour. That hour change can have several effects.

Turning the clock back affects your body's internal clock. You are likely to be fatigued until your body has adjusted to the time change.

You may be commuting to work in the dark more frequently, which you haven't done in the past six months. The incidence of drowsy driving crashes is higher during the first weeks following the time changes.

During hunting season, deer will be trying to avoid hunters and may cross the roadways. Be particularly cautious when driving through wooded areas around Forest Preserves or at designated deer crossings. Headlights reflected in the eyes of wildlife either in or on the side of the road should be a reason to stop then proceed slowly.

This is also the mating season for deer; male deer can be confused at this time and become more aggressive or less cautious with humans. Be careful when approaching a deer while on foot or driving in your car.

Wet leaves can be as slippery as ice. Watch for patches of wet leaves on the roadway. Keep your walkway free of wet leaves to avoid the occurrence of falls.

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Choosing Age Appropriate Toys for Christmas

Choosing toys for children is an arduous task, especially if you don't have children of your own. It is important to buy toys that will benefit the child mentally and physically. When you buy toys that are too advanced, children will become frustrated and will cast the toy aside for one that is more for their developmental level. Toys that exceed the child's level also can be harmful especially if it has small pieces or sharp edges.

When buying toys for older siblings, be aware that the younger children in the house will want to play with them. Make sure toys meant for the older children are kept inaccessible to younger siblings and friends.

Here are some suggestions for choosing suitable toys for children from infancy to age 14:

  1. Toys for Baby: Newborn to 1 year. Choose eye-catching toys that appeal to your baby's sight, hearing, and touch.
    • Large blocks of wood or plastic
    • Pots and Pans
    • Rattles
    • Soft, washable animals, dolls, or balls
    • Bright, movable objects that are out of baby's reach
    • Busy boards
    • Floating bath toys
    • Squeeze toys

  2. Toys for Toddlers: 1-2 years. These toys should be sturdy and be able to withstand a toddler's curiosity.
    • Cloth or plastic books with large pictures
    • Sturdy dolls
    • Kiddy cars
    • Musical tops
    • Stacking toys
    • Toy telephones
  3. Preschooler Toys: 2-5 years. These toys should imitate the activity of the parents or older children.
    • Books (short stories or action stories)
    • Crafts-crayons, markers, chalk and non-toxic finger paints
    • Housekeeping toys
    • Tape recorders
    • Simple puzzles with large pieces
    • Dress up clothes
  4. Toys for Young Children: 5-9 years. These toys should enhance creativity and skill development
    • Crafts
    • Card games
    • Bicycles
    • Balls
    • Sports equipment
    • Table games
    • Computer games
  5. For Preteens: 10-14 years. Hobbies and scientific activities are ideal for this age group.
    • Computer games
    • Sewing, knitting, needlework
    • Microscopes, telescopes
    • Table and board games
    • Sports equipment
    • Hobby collections

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Santa's Little Helpers

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that children have died and over 100,000 children have received treatment in hospital emergency departments for toy-related injuries last year. Many of those injuries are related to young children choking on balloons.

Do not be a victim of this years "must have" toys. The toys you choose should be well constructed and safe. The following tips will help consumers choose appropriate toys this holiday season and throughout the year:

  • Avoid toys with small parts for children who still place objects in their mouths, which could pose a choking hazard.
  • For all children less than eight years old, avoid toys that have sharp edges, toys that need electricity to run or have heating elements.
  • Be a label reader. Toys should be labeled with the age group the toy was intended for. Use this information as a guide before purchasing the toy.
  • Discard the plastic wrappings, which can cause suffocation, on toys immediately before they become deadly playthings.
  • Be careful when choosing toys that have painted cast metal, many of those toys have been made overseas and can contain high lead levels.

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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention

  • Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month
  • Impaired Pedestrians
  • Christmas Holiday Safety

The information on the Loyola University Health System (LUHS) Web site is for educational purposes only. It is presented in summary form in order to impart general information relating to certain diseases, ailments, physical conditions and their treatments. The information provided through the LUHS Web site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease, nor is it a substitute for professional care. Should you have any health-care related questions or suspect you have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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