Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

Volume 15 Issue 24 .                                                                                     Winter 2020

Safety Source

Thank you for being a Safety Source family! 
Winter Weather Safety Edition

This week we want to talk about how to stay safe during the winter Season. There are interactive tools for your children to learn about winter safety as well as information for parents. We hope this will be a fun way to learn about important safety topics together as a family. Let us know if we can be a resource to you in anyway! As always, we try to include the best topics to keep your family happy, healthy, and safe! If you wish to see a particular topic or question addressed in our next issue, please let us know!

Newsletter Highlights


Video for Kids

Interactive video for kids to learn about winter safety

Winter Activity

Winter Word Search for Kids

Interactive Quiz Winter Safety

Test your child's knowledge about Winter Safety through an interactive online quiz. 

More Information for Parents

Information for parents about Winter Safety

Winter Driving Tips

While it is recommended to limit winter travel due to COVID-19, we want to provide you with safety tips if you do have to travel.

Long road trips can be an exciting time for families. During the winter months, there are important safety tips that must be followed to help keep you and your loved ones safe. Consider these safety tips if your family will be traveling this winter:

Before You Go

  • Check for any recalls- Be sure to check to see if your vehicle has been recalled for any reason. Consider using NHTSA’s Recall Look-up Tool using your vehicle’s VIN number. https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls
  • Get your car serviced before getting on the road- Get your vehicle serviced for a tune-up and other important services such as an oil change and a tire rotation.
  • Remember to plug it in- For electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, minimize the drain on the battery. If the vehicle has a thermal heating pack for the battery, plug your vehicle in whenever it’s not in use. Start your vehicle and preheat the interior before you unplug your vehicle in the morning.1
    • Battery
    • Lights
    • Colling system
    • Windshield Wipers and you water reservoir.
    • Make sure each tire is filled with your vehicle’s manufacturer recommendation.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected- Be sure to stock your vehicle with winter ready essentials such as an ice scraper or snow shovel. Pack extra food, water, warm clothes, and a blanket. Consider including sand in your winter essentials list. Sand is an abrasive material that can help get your vehicle get out of snow if you happened to get stuck in the snow. Be sure to have a flashlight or a warning device in case of an emergency.
  • Protecting your children- Double check to make sure that your children are in the appropriate car seat or booster seat according to the maximum height and weight of the seat.

While Traveling

  • Keep an eye on your gas tank- It is highly suggested that you do not let your gas tank fall below the half mark.
  • Avoid risky driving behaviors- Such as texting and driving. Remember to obey all traffic laws such as always wearing a seat belt and not speeding above the speed limit. Avoid driving under the influence.
  • Be aware of weather conditions- Do not use cruise control if you suspect that the road may have ice or snow on it.

In case of an emergency:

  • To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space.1
  • Be sure to stay with your vehicle- Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.2

Staying informed and being prepared for long distance travel is extremely important. For more driving safety tips visit our page here.

Sledding Safety

Sledding can be such a fun activity during the winter months. Although, sledding can seem like harmless fun, it can cause serious injuries even death. Children should always sled with an adult present. Follow these safety tips to remain safe while sledding:

Using Safety Gear and Dressing appropriately

  • Children should wear helmets to protect them from deadly or debilitating injuries. Helmets designed for winter sports work best, but if you don't have one, make sure they at least wear a bike helmet or something similar.
  • Be sure to wear warm clothing. Wear a hat, gloves or mittens, snow pants, winter jacket, and snow boots. Don't wear a scarf, though, as it can get caught in a sled.1
  • Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Have children come inside periodically to warm up.

Finding a Safe Spot

  • Do not sled on or around frozen lakes, streams, or ponds.
  • Avoid sledding on hills that end near a street or parking lot.
  • Avoid sledding at night and in crowded areas.
  • Pick a location clear of pedestrians, vehicles and other hazards in the sledding path. Be sure the end of the path is also clear.

Sledding safely

  • Use steerable sleds, not snow disks or inner tubes.2
  • Sleds should be structurally sound and free of sharp edges and splinters, and the steering mechanism should be well lubricated.2
  • Everyone should sit face-forward on their sleds with their feet downhill. Never go down the hill face-first because this can lead to a serious head injury.
  • Be sure to never stand on a sled.
  • Children should only sled one at time to avoid a potential injury.
  • Never pull a sled with a moving vehicle such as an all-terrain vehicle (ATV).
  • Take turns sledding. Don’t start sledding if someone else is in the pathway.

Set reasonable time limits on outdoor play to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Set a reminder to have your children come in the house periodically to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Taking these precautions can create a safer sledding environment for everyone and will hopefully give parents a piece of mind.

  1. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/safety-sledding.html
  2. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-play/Pages/Winter-Safety.aspx
Winter coats are Dangerous in Car Seats

While it is recommended to limit winter travel due to COVID-19, we want to provide you with safety tips for children in car seats this winter if you do have to travel. 

Bulky coats give the false impression your child is snugly strapped in the car seat.

With Middle Tennessee temperatures plummeting, it’s a good time to remember that children should never wear their coats while strapped into a car seat. (There’s a way to keep them warm, though — we’ll get to that in a moment.) Though my children are grown now, I wish I would have known the importance of this safety measure as a young mother.

You might have seen the recent segment of NBC’s “Today” show with a demonstration of how a child can be flung from a car seat in a crash if he or she is wearing a coat (see the video here).

So what really happens in a crash? Winter coats give the false perception that the harness straps are tight against your child’s body when, in fact, they are several inches too loose. In a crash, the coat can compress and produce a loose harness, which can result in the child’s whole body coming out of the car seat, causing severe injuries or even death.

Don’t believe this is possible? Try this simple test to ease your mind.

  • Place your child in the car seat with a winter coat on and tighten the harness straps as you normally would for travel.
  • Next, undo the car seat buckle WITHOUT loosening the harness straps.
  • Now take the coat off your child, put him or her back in the seat and buckle the harness.
  • Use the pinch test to check the harness for tightness: Try pinching the harness fabric together near the child’s shoulders. When the harness is snug, your fingers should just slide off the harness as you try to pinch it together. If you can pinch a bit of harness between your fingers, the straps are too loose. Chances are you will need to tighten your harness to get it as snug as it needs to be to properly fit your child.

It is always important to make sure your child is snug in the car seat. When properly harnessed, the plastic retainer or chest clip should be across the child’s chest at armpit level. Use the pinch test to check for tightness.

So how do you keep your children warm? Take them to the car with a blanket or coat around them. Once you get to the car, take the blanket/coat off and secure the child in the car seat. You can then place the blanket or coat over the body as long as it is not covering the face and obstructing breathing.

Other cold-weather safety notes: Remember never to leave your car running in the garage, never leave your car running with your child inside it, and never place anything underneath your child in a car seat or between your child and the harness. This includes winter coats!

I know how challenging it can be to get everyone situated in the car, particularly when it is cold. It might take an extra minute or two to get your child strapped in and cozy, but that precious cargo is worth the effort.


Click for more information about Car Seats
Are You interested in learning more about Child Passenger Safety?

We are now offering online webinars that offer important safety information about Child Passenger Safety. If you interested in learning more, or about us partnering with your organization, please contact us! 

Learn more about Online Webinars for Child Passenger Safety
Avoid Holiday Impaired Driving

While it is recommended to limit winter travel due to COVID-19, we want to provide you with safety tips if you do have to travel.

Drunk driving is a problem every day, but this problem increases during the holidays. An average of 1 alcohol-impaired-driving fatality occurred every 50 minutes in 2018.1 Approximately one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers. It is important to note, that all drunk driving deaths can be prevented. During the Christmas and New Year’s Day holiday periods in 2018 alone, there were more drunk-driving-related fatalities than during any other holiday period that year.1

During the holiday season, be a responsible driver. Choose these responsible behaviors instead of drinking and driving:

  • Planning is important. Before you leave out, plan your safe ride home. Consider choosing a friend as a designated driver.
  • Accountability is key. If someone you know has been drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. Take their keys and arrange a ride home.
  • Utilize a ride sharing app, if you started drinking unexpectedly.
  • Remember to always wear your seat belt.

Drunk driving is considered a serious offense. Charges range from misdemeanors to felony offenses, and penalties for impaired driving can include driver’s license revocation, fines, and jail time.2 A DUI can cost you thousands of dollars in attorney fees and fines. Avoid these consequences by choosing the responsible behaviors listed above.

Remember if you feel different, you drive different. For more driving safety tips visit our page here.

  1. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812864
  2. https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving
Fun Recipes to Make as a Family

Easy recipes for your child to learn how to cook while having fun in the kitchen! 

Click for Recipe
Meet the Injury Prevention Team


Purnima Unni

is the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She has a Masters in Public Health and is a Certified Health Education specialist with over 20 years of experience in injury prevention. She is a wife and mother of two girls and her rescue puppy. She loves to cook, travel and watch murder mysteries.

Eppiphanie Richardson

is an Atlanta native who decided to take on Nashville as her newest adventure. She is also the Associate Program Manager for the Be in the Zone-Turn Off Your Phone Campaign which educates teens and parents on the dangers of distracted driving. She has a passion for healthcare and serving others. She feels privileged to be able to serve Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Nashville, dancing, running, and spending time with her husband and son.

Mimi Sanders

is a Nashville native and received her Masters from Vanderbilt University. She is the Associate Program Manager for the Kohls Seat Smart Program, which focuses on educating caregivers, children, and community partners on the importance of car seat safety. She is so excited to join the team at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with her local church’s special needs ministry, hanging out with family and friends, and doing yoga


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Resources from our generous partners
Tips about Holiday Safety
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Tips from AllState
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Tips for Teens and Safe Driving
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This newsletter is brought to you by the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program and Kohl’s Stay Seat Smart Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

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