Make it a Happy and Healthy 4th of July!

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Here comes the 4th with its promise of fun. But we all need to take precautions to insure that it is a fun day.

Outdoor activities and fireworks are the biggest pastimes for 4th of July celebrations. Here are some tips on making it a safe, happy 4th.

  •  Never swim alone on the 4th or any other day, and make sure that any time kids are in the water someone is watching them closely.
  • Cover food and beverages outdoors to discourage uninvited guests such as bees and wasps. Wearing shoes, long sleeves, and long pants outdoors and avoiding perfumes and scented lotions, and sugary drinks can also help prevent bee stings.
  • Apply sunscreen both before and during your party on the 4th. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15.

  • Check prescription medications you are taking to assure you will not have a reaction from being out in the sun or heat for an extended period of time
  • If you’ll be hiking or camping over the 4th,wear long-sleeved, light-colored shirts and long pants tucked into socks or boots to protect yourself from diseases caused by ticks.
  • Keep children away from campfires and grills. Gas leaks, blocked tubes, and overfilled propane tanks can be a cause of grill fires and explosions.
  • Don’t leave the picnic foods out all day. Allowing food to sit in outdoor temperatures can invite illness. The U.S. FDA suggests never leaving food out for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90 F and not more than two hours at other times.
  • If you live where fireworks are legal and they will be part of your 4th of July celebration be sure to store them where the kids can’t get into them. Keep the kids away from the fireworks at all times, and keep spectators at a safe distance. Professional fireworks displays are always a safer choice than putting on your own show.

A special note on using sparklers on the 4th;

  • Children under five are too young to safely hold a sparkler and don’t really understand why they might be dangerous. Avoid giving them one to hold.

  • Babies or children can wriggle in your arms and reach out unexpectedly. Avoid holding a baby or child when you have a sparkler in your hand.

  • Children over five will still need you to supervise them when they use sparklers. It’s safest if they wear gloves when they’re holding them. They might seem like ‘fireworks lite’ but sparklers can reach a temperature of 2000ºC. Have a bucket of water handy to put them in so that no-one can pick up a hot one off the ground. Teach them not to wave sparklers near anyone else or run with them.

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REFERENCES:

CPSC.gov. Fireworks Safety.

USDA

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How Safe are Laser Toys?

laserMost of us think lasers are cool. What we may not know is that when operated unsafely, or without certain controls, the highly-concentrated light from lasers—even those in toys—can be dangerous, causing serious eye injuries and even blindness. And not just to the person using a laser, but to anyone within range of the laser beam.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is particularly concerned about this potential danger to children and those around them.

According to a health promotion officer at FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, “A beam shone directly into a person’s eye can injure it in an instant, especially if the laser is a powerful one.”

However, laser injuries usually don’t hurt, and vision can deteriorate slowly over time. Eye injuries caused by laser light may go unnoticed, for days and even weeks, and could be permanent.

Some examples of laser toys are:

  • lasers mounted on toy guns that can be used for “aiming;”
  • spinning tops that project laser beams while they spin;
  • hand-held lasers used during play as “lightsabers;” and
  • lasers intended for entertainment that create optical effects in an open room.

FDA Regulates Lasers

A laser creates a powerful, targeted beam of electromagnetic radiation that is used in many products, from music players and printers to eye-surgery tools. FDA regulates radiation-emitting electronic products, including lasers, and sets radiation-safety standards that manufacturers must meet. This includes all laser products that are marketed as toys.

Toys with lasers are of particular interest to the FDA because it’s often children who are injured by these products. Because advertisers promote them as playthings, parents and kids alike may believe they’re safe to use.

For toys to be considered minimal risk, the FDA recommends that the levels of radiation and light not exceed the limits of Class 1, which is the lowest level in regulated products. Lasers used for industrial and other purposes often require higher radiation levels. But in toys, those levels are unnecessary and potentially dangerous.

In recent years, lasers have increased markedly in power and have gone way down in price. And while adults may buy a laser pointer for use in work, kids often buy them for amusement.

Low-cost, compact laser pointers used to be quite low in power but, in the last 10 years, many laser pointers have increased in power 10-fold and more. The fact that lasers can be dangerous may not be evident, particularly to the children who use them as toys, or to the adults who supervise them.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Never aim or shine a laser directly at anyone, including animals. The light energy from a laser aimed into the eye can be hazardous, perhaps even more than staring directly into the sun.
  • Do not aim a laser at any reflective surface.
  • Remember that the startling effect of a bright beam of light can cause serious accidents when aimed at a driver in a car or otherwise negatively affect someone who is engaged in other activity (such as playing sports).
  • Look for a statement that it complies with 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations) Subchapter J on the label.

If you buy a laser toy or pointer and you don’t see this information in the labeling, it’s best not to make any assumptions about its safety.

Source: FDA Consumer Updates

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Labeling for Pediatric Medications

pediatricThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made it easier for parents and health care professionals to find information on pediatric medications. The FDA created a database that covers medical products studied in children under recent pediatric legislation.

The C4 is a one-stop resource. You can search for information by the product’s commercial or chemical name, or by the condition for which it was studied. FDA’s Office of Pediatric Therapeutics (OPT), which focuses on safety, scientific, and ethical issues that arise in pediatric clinical trials or after products are approved for use in children, developed the tool in collaboration with another branch of the agency, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

OPT also maintains a Safety Reporting page5 with information on products that have been tied to safety problems that specifically relate to children. This page lists products that have been the subject of an adverse event report presented to FDA’s Pediatric Advisory Committee, a group of outside experts that advises the agency on pediatric treatments, research and labeling. (An adverse event is any undesirable experience associated with a medical product.)  The committee’s recommendation is also given if further actions were necessary to ensure safe use of the product in children.

“We are excited to share this goldmine of information with parents,” says Debbie Avant, R.Ph., the health communications specialist in OPT who helped develop and maintain the database. “We want parents to know they can rely on FDA for accurate, timely information about the medications their children take.”

Pediatric Medication Labels

Parents should always read medicine labeling carefully. For prescription medications and vaccines, there is a Pediatric Use section in the labeling that says if the medication has been studied for its effects on children. The labeling will also tell you what ages have been studied. (This labeling is the package insert with details about a prescription medication.)

Congress’ efforts to increase the number of studies of prescription drugs used in children have allowed FDA to build a foundation for pediatric research and discover new things. For example, researchers have found that certain drugs produce more side effects for the nervous system in children than adults, says Dianne Murphy, M.D., OPT’s director.

FDA is able to use information gathered from pediatric studies to make labeling changes specific to kids, and to share that news with the public. The database, which is updated regularly, currently contains more than 440 entries of pediatric information from the studies submitted in response to pediatric legislative initiatives. The labeling changes include:

  • 84 drugs with new or enhanced pediatric safety data that hadn’t been known before;
  • 36 drugs with new dosing or dosing changes;
  • 80 drugs with information stating that they were not found to be effective in children; and
  • 339 drugs for which the approved use has been expanded to cover a new age group based on studies.

The easiest way for parents to use the database is to search by their child’s condition to find all mentions of that condition in all of the labeling information within the database. If you know the name of the drug you want to find, sort the database’s information by trade name.

Avant says parents should note that the database contains the version of the label at the time of the labeling change. It may not be updated with later changes if they don’t affect children.

OPT has also evaluated the amount of progress in the inclusion of pediatric information in drug labeling and has published a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association67on May 9, 2012. They found that in 2009, more than 60% percent of the drugs used for both adults and children that were in the Physician’s Desk Reference—a drug information resource for physicians and other health professionals—had specific information on pediatric use, compared to only 22 percent in 1975.

Critical information in the pediatric section of the labeling tells you if the product was studied in children but could not be shown to work. When a product has been studied in adults and cannot be shown to be effective, that information is not put in the label. However, Congress told FDA to put this information in labeling when a product had been studied in children and was not effective.

“There is still much work to be done, as we have only studied two thirds of the products that are already on the market,” says Murphy. “And there is a steady stream of new products approved every year for children and adults.”

Source : FDA Consumer Updates page

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How Clean is your Toothbrush?

Researchers at England’s University of Manchester say your toothbrush can be a breeding place for germs.

They found that one uncovered toothbrush can harbor more than 100 million bacteria, including E. coli bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, and staphylococci (“staph”) bacteria that cause skin infections.

toothbrushSo, how safe is your toothbrush?

Well, according to Gayle McCombs, RDH, MS, associate professor and director of the Dental Hygiene Research Center at Old Dominion University, “There are hundreds of microorganisms in our mouths each and every day. But problems only start when there is an unhealthy balance of bacteria in the mouth.”

Oral hygiene experts agree that no matter how many bacteria live in your mouth, or have gotten in there from your toothbrush, your body’s natural defenses make it most unlikely that you will get sick from brushing your teeth.

Here are some recommended common sense storage toothbrush storage tips from the experts:

  • Don’t Brush Where You Flush – Every toilet flush sends a spray of bacteria into the air. You don’t want the toilet spray anywhere near your open toothbrush. McCombs says. “It’s just common sense to store your toothbrush as far away from the toilet as possible.”
  • Once you’ve moved your toothbrush away from the toilet, here are a few other storage tips to keep your brush as germ-free as possible:
    • Wash off your toothbrush thoroughly with tap water every time you use it.
    • “Bacteria love a moist environment,” Harms says. Make sure your brush has a chance to dry thoroughly before you use it again. Avoid using toothbrush covers, which can create a moist enclosed breeding ground for bacteria.
    • Store your toothbrush upright in a holder, rather than lying it down.
    • No matter how close you are to your sister, brother, spouse, or roommate, don’t ever use their toothbrush. Don’t even store your toothbrush side-by-side in the same cup with other people’s brushes. Whenever toothbrushes touch, they can swap germs.

Source: WebMD

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Let’s Keep Kids Safe Around Water!

water safetyKids love the water, whether it is the bathtub, the backyard pool, a river, lake or ocean. But, keeping children safe around water during the summer especially takes all our concentration.

What follows are prevention tips from the Centers for Disease Control.

Learn life-saving skills.  Everyone should know the basics of swimming (floating, moving through the water) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Fence it off. Install a four–sided isolation fence, with self–closing and self–latching gates, around backyard swimming pools. This can help keep children away from the area when they aren’t supposed to be swimming. Pool fences should completely separate the house and play area from the pool.

Make life jackets a “must.” Make sure kids wear life jackets in and around natural bodies of water, such as lakes or the ocean, even if they know how to swim. Life jackets can be used in and around pools for weaker swimmers too.

Be on the lookout. When kids are in or near water (including bathtubs), closely supervise them at all times. Adults watching kids in or near water should avoid distracting activities like playing cards, reading books, talking on the phone, and using alcohol or drugs.

Here are some other resources on water safety.

The Red Cross offers a Water Safety Quiz http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/water-safety/quiz

waduing Pool Safety for Parents: http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/pools/wadplsftprnt.html

For more water safety resources and fun activities, visit:

 

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