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 Integrative Medicine: Home Safety 

If you store potentially harmful products in a cupboard under your bathroom sink, secure the cabinet with a plastic fastener.

Do not leave a razor within reach.

Keep the toilet lid down.

In Your Child's Play Area
Do not give your infant toys that are small enough to fit into his mouth.

Do not give your child any toy that has small parts that could break off.

A teething infant should never be permitted to play with a toy filled with liquid or gel.

Check your child's playthings regularly for breakage and keep them in good repair. If repainting is necessary, use only nontoxic and lead-free paints.

Choose age-appropriate toys carefully. Follow the age guidelines on the packaging. Be aware that these guidelines refer primarily to the ages a child must be to use a toy safely. Thus, if a toy is recommended for children ages two through six, it may not be safe for a child under two, even if the child seems old enough for it in other ways. Also keep an eye out for sharp edges, small parts that could loosen (glass eyes, for example), parts that could break, or any electrical wiring that might not be perfect.

Choose toys made from nontoxic materials.

In the Bedroom
If your baby sleeps in a crib, make sure to use one that meets current federal safety standards. It is possible for an infant to strangle if his head becomes wedged between the bars of a crib.

Protect a sleeping child by making sure he wears flame-retardant clothing.

Never leave your infant alone on a changing table always keep one hand on your baby. Kicking and wriggling can propel him off the edge.

Keep bureau and table tops clean and clear of sharp objects that could cut your child.

Small objects, such as jewelry and safety pins, can cause choking. Keep them securely out of reach of your child.

Prevent cuts and choking by making sure your sewing area is clean and clear of buttons, pins, needles, and scissors. Such objects are enticing to children.

Keep your sewing machine unplugged when not in use, and the cord securely out of reach.

Garages, tool sheds, and workshops should be securely locked and off-limits to young children.

Outside Your Home
When your child is a passenger in an automobile, keep him securely buckled up in an appropriate safety restraint at all times. Consumer magazines, the United States Department of Transportation, and the National Child Passenger Safety Association (located in Ardmore, Pennsylvania) can provide information on approved child restraint systems.

Make sure your child wears appropriate protective gear when engaging in sports activities. A helmet should be worn for bicycling, horseback riding, skiing, skateboarding, and roller blading, as well as organized sports like baseball, football, hockey, and lacrosse. Eye protection is recommended for children who play baseball, hockey, racquet sports, football, basketball, and golf. Goggles are useful for protecting a child from chlorine and other chemicals while swimming. Other types of protective gear that may be appropriate include knee pads, elbow pads, shin guards, mouth guards, and padded gloves.

Teach your child to cross streets safely. Young children should be taught to cross a street only in the company of an adult, never alone.

Teach children to swim and teach them water safety.

Never leave a child alone near a swimming pool, lake, pond, or any other body of water. Every summer, there are many instances of drowning and near drowning that occur because young children are left unsupervised. Swimming pools should be securely fenced.

When your child is riding in a boat, make sure he is wearing a life jacket.

Before allowing your child to skate on a frozen pond, check with local authorities to make sure the ice is safe.

Keep your child's playground equipment in good repair. Put a cushioning layer of sand under slides, swings, and jungle gyms to soften a possible fall.

Always supervise a young child when he is playing outside. Be sure to keep him well away from the street. Teach your child never to chase a ball, another child, or a pet into the street.

Children should never be permitted to play with fireworks. Most states prohibit the sale of fireworks to individuals, but people still manage to obtain them. Every year, some children suffer severe burns-or worse-from accidents connected with fireworks.

Insist that your teenager take a driver's education course before getting his driver's license. This shouldn't be difficult; most high schools provide driving instruction. "Driver's Ed" classes are an eagerly anticipated milestone for most teenagers.

Never drink and drive. Teach your teenager about the consequences and very real dangers of drinking and driving, or accepting a ride from anyone who has been drinking.

Do not grow poisonous plants either inside or outside your home. The ivy and the split-leaf philodendron that look so pretty on your end tables, as well as the flowering azaleas and daffodils that brighten your yard, can be lethal if ingested. Some common plants that should tee avoided are apricot, azalea, Boston ivy, caladium, castor bean, chokeberry, daffodil (jonquil, narcissus), dumb cane (dieffenbachia), emerald duke, English ivy, foxglove, hen and chicks (lantana), hydrangea, jimsonweed, lily of the valley, mistletoe, morning glory, nightshade, oleander, parlor ivy (philodendron), poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, rhododendron, rhubarb, split-leaf philodendron, sweet pea, tulip, and wisteria.

Not all accidents are preventable, of course, but many are. Thinking ahead is the key. Stay one step ahead of your child. By childproofing your home, you can protect against many home accidents, and also keep to a minimum the hazards your child will encounter outside.

No matter how careful and loving parents are, they cannot prevent all of the accidents and emergencies that can arise while their children are growing up. But you can and should take measures so that you will be prepared to act quickly and effectively should an emergency arise.

Emergency Telephone Numbers
Post emergency telephone numbers near every telephone in your home. This can save precious time in any emergency, for you or for anyone else who is caring for your child. We urge you to take this precaution now, while you are thinking about it. If there is no 911 emergency service in your area, these numbers should include that of your local hospital for ambulance/paramedicservice. Also post numbers for your local fire department, Poison Control Center, police, and your child's doctor and dentist.

If your telephone is the type that allows you to program numbers for automatic dialing, enter these emergency numbers into the phone as well, and label the appropriate keys clearly. Some telephone models come with keys already labeled for police, fire, and other emergency numbers, which makes this even easier. However, you should not consider this a substitute for keeping emergency numbers on hand in written form. It is possible for programmed numbers to be erased accidentally, so you should still keep a list of emergency telephone numbers in a convenient location.

Designated Surrogates
Choose and empower surrogates who can act in your stead if an emergency arises when you cannot be reached, and include their telephone numbers in the emergency list. Designate adults you trust, perhaps your child's grandparents, perhaps good friends, to make decisions in any emergency involving your child. If you have established a close and caring relationship with your child's health care provider, you might wish to empower him or her to make any necessary medical decisions involving your child. Give your surrogates written permission to act for you, such as a limited power of attorney. Your surrogates should keep this important document where it can be found easily if they must respond to an emergency, and you should give copies to your child's physician. Should an occasion ever arise when you cannot be reached immediately, your designated surrogates will be able to act. Written permission from a parent or designated guardian is sometimes required before certain life-saving measures can be taken.

Medic Alert
If you have a child with a special medical problem, obtain a Medic Alert bracelet to ensure that he will receive the right care if something happens away from home. If your child is allergic to penicillin or other medication, sulfites, or bee stings, for example, it will enable him to receive prompt and appropriate treatment for an allergic reaction. Without a Medic Alert bracelet, a diabetic teenager suffering from the typical symptoms of low blood sugar could be misdiagnosed as being intoxicated and fail to receive necessary treatment. Medic Alert information is especially important for a young child who may not be able to communicate well, or for any child who has a disorder that can cause the loss of consciousness. Without Medic Alert information, healthcare personnel could be working in the dark and wasting precious time. Medic Alert is the only emergency medical identification service endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians, the American Hospital Association, and every national pharmacy association. For more information, call Medic Alert at 800-432-5378.

First Aid Training
The primary child care provider in every household should take a good course in emergency first aid that includes infant and childhood cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedures. We hope that you will never be called upon to use these skills, but there is simply no substitute for the hands-on training and practice in these life-saving techniques that such a course provides.

The Well-Stocked Home Health Kit
Every home should have a well-stocked home health kit. A good home health kit includes not only the bare essentials for dealing with emergencies, such as bandages, tweezers, and hydrogen peroxide, but also the basic medicines-conventional, herbal, homeopathic, and others-that are used over and over again for common illnesses (see Assembling a Home Health Kit on page 74). Your home health kit should be stored in a location that is convenient, but securely locked away from or out of the reach of children, and you should check it at least every three months or so to replace any products that have passed their expiration dates or that have been used up.

One of the most important things you can do for your child is to be prepared. It's impossible to create an environment so safe that there is no possibility a child will be injured, of course, just as it is impossible to prevent your child from ever becoming ill. But by scanning your home and your surroundings for potential hazards-and then eliminating them-you can prevent many of the common kinds of accidents that children are prone to suffer.

(Excerpted from Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child ISBN: 1583331395)
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 About The Author
Janet Zand LAc, OMDJANET ZAND, O.M.D., L.Ac. is a nationally respected author, lecturer, practitioner and herbal products formulator whose work has helped thousands of people achieve better health....more
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