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Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
One of the things that makes the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary even more horrifying to me is that the school seems to have done everything right—the building was locked and had a camera surveillance system, the teachers were well-trained in emergency procedures—but it still didn’t prevent Adam Lanza from getting in and killing 26 people.
Safety experts like Trevor Pyle, who has worked with many top disaster and emergency service agencies, stress that the tragedy could have been much worse. “The teachers and staff did the right thing, and their actions saved countless lives,” he told me in an interview.
There are certain behaviors that could make it more likely for you (and your child) to make it out of a situation like that alive—like six-year-old Aidan Licata and his friends, who ran when the opportunity presented itself, or one little girl, the only survivor from her classroom, who played dead. Here’s what Pyle suggests:
• Tell them to listen to their teachers and school staff members. They receive extensive training on what to do and how to take care of the children. So tell them to recognize when the teacher is serious, and follow directions.
• Make sure that they pay attention during the drills, and know what to do when they are told to evacuate.
• Tell them to tell an adult if something appears to be “weird,” and that they aren’t going to get in trouble if they are wrong. Better to be safe than sorry. If they see something, make sure they say something.
• Always know where at least two exits are. If you can, escape. If you can’t, hide. If you have to, fight with everything you have.
• If you can run, bring everyone you can with you. Get out of the building, and don’t stop until you find cover. Warn other people away from the building and call 911. Report your location. When cops arrive, keep your hands clear and don’t approach them. They aren’t there to rescue you, they are there to stop the shooter.
• If you have to hide, close and lock the door, turn out the lights, and mute your cell phone. Don’t move until the cops arrive.
• If you have to fight, improvise a weapon and attack. Target the shooter’s head, and torso. Do not hesitate, and don’t stop until he is down.
Hopefully, this is the kind of information you won’t ever have to use—but it may just save your life.
For more information and resources regarding the Sandy Hook Tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:
Photo: © Vividz Foto/Shutterstock.com
Thursday, June 7th, 2012
Let me start off by saying I hope you never have to use the information in this post. Before I lose you after you’ve read the first sentence, let me add that about 383,000 people experience sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting each year, so knowing CPR could be essential in saving someone’s life. And if the need ever does arise, it’s likely to be on someone you know: a child, spouse, parent, or friend, according to the American Heart Association.
As part of their campaign to encourage people to learn CPR this June for CPR Awareness Month, the AHA suggests you reacquaint yourself with the disco-era ditty Stayin’ Alive—it sets the perfect beat for saving someone who’s gone into cardiac arrest. The short instructions for performing CPR are call 911 and push hard and fast on the center of the chest. For a more detailed how-to, check out Parents.com’s article here.
To help you remember the steps of CPR—and the song—the AHA has enlisted the help of The Hangover’s Ken Jeong and, of course, The Bee Gees, in this 2-minute video.
Image: Boy learning CPR
Sunday, October 9th, 2011
In addition to making sure there are always fresh batteries in your home’s smoke detector, staying calm, being prepared, and knowing what to do during a fire emergency are the first steps to staying out of danger.
This week, as focus is on fire safety and fire prevention, think about introducing everyone to life-saving methods. First, have an open conversation about fire dangers with your kids. Then, keep kids and objects that can easily catch fire at least three feet away from the hottest parts of your house, such as the stove, the fireplace, any candles, etc. Also, make sure there are working smoke detectors on every floor of your house and that you test them at least once a month. (According to the CDC, an average of 4 out of 10 fire deaths happen in homes without working smoke alarms.) Finally, organize an escape plan and practice it several times. (Read more about protecting your family from fires.)
You can also suggest that your child’s class take a field trip to the local fire department to learn safety tips first hand – that will come in handy if you ever face an unexpected emergency at home. (Read our Executive Editor’s pancake breakfast/fire alarm experience.)
Visit the U.S. Fire Administration website for additional fire safety guidelines.
More About Fire Safety on Parents.com
The photo above is from Wikimedia Commons.
Friday, August 26th, 2011
In our September issue, we have a timely story by Parents advisor and pediatrician Wendy Sue Swanson, M.D., on how to prepare for an emergency. It’s an incredibly helpful piece; Dr. Swanson breaks down the exact steps we should all take and the supplies—there are many—we should have on hand to get through three days. For all of you on the east coast, it’s worth reading the story and seeing which supplies you already have in your home, and which you may need to collect before the storm hits.
You may be especially nervous if you’re pregnant or home with a newborn. With that in mind, our friends at the March of Dimes shared some helpful preparation tips geared toward exactly those families:
1) Pregnant women should know the signs of labor, and if they experience any of these symptoms, should not wait for them to just go away. They should seek immediate medical care. Preterm labor is any labor before 37 weeks gestation. The signs of labor are:
• Contractions (the abdomen tightens like a fist) every 10 minutes or more often
• Change in vaginal discharge (leaking fluid or bleeding from the vagina)
• Pelvic pressure—the feeling that the baby is pushing down
• Low, dull backache
• Cramps that feel like a period
• Abdominal cramps with or without diarrhea
2) Pregnant women should pack prenatal vitamins, or perhaps an extra supply of over-the-counter vitamins, along with extra maternity clothes.
3) Fill prescription medications in advance.
4) Have bottled water and non-perishable food supplies on hand. Try to stock food that is high in protein and low in fat.
5) New parents who may need to stay in a shelter should consider bringing a safe place for their baby to sleep, such as a portable crib, as well as extra diapers and other basic medical supplies.
6) New parents also should take special steps to ensure they have food for their infants. The stress of a hurricane may affect lactating women’s milk supply, although breastfeeding can be calming for both mother and baby.
7) In the rare instance it becomes impossible to continue to breastfeed, mothers may consider weaning their baby. If they choose to switch to formula, parents should use pre-prepared formula because there may be concerns about the quality of the water supply. Do not use water treated with iodine or chlorine tablets to prepare powdered formula.
8) Pregnant women should do their best to eat regularly and nutritiously and remain hydrated. They also should do their best to get enough rest.