Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

Volume 15 Issue 19 .                                                                                     Fall 2020

Safety Source

Thank you for being a Safety Source family! 
COVID-19 and Halloween Safety Tips Edition

This week we want to provide safety tips for Halloween especially with COVID-19. There are interactive tools for your children to learn about how to stay safe this Halloween 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 Halloween Safety

Safely Decorating Pumpkin Ideas

Learn how to decorate your pumpkin safely! 

Interactive Quiz about Halloween Safety

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

More Information for Parents

Information for parents about Halloween Safety and COVID-19

Halloween Safety During COVID-19: Safety First!

Keeping your family safe during COVID-19, has been a priority with all families. Halloween traditions will look different this year however there are still plenty of ways families can still have fun while avoiding the scare of being exposed to or spreading the virus. Keep doing what you have been doing: avoiding large gatherings, keeping a distance of six feet from others, wear cloth face coverings (think superhero!), and washing hands often.

“If you come from a county with rising COVID -19 cases you may want to avoid trick-or- treating all together and focus on those low risk activities your family can still enjoy,” says Purnima Unni, Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager

The Center for Disease Control suggests that many traditional Halloween activities are considered high-risk activities for spreading viruses. Consider having your family participate in these alternative low risk activities:

  • Hosting a pumpkin decorating contest with household family members
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space.
  • Organizing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children can find Halloween- themed items inside and outside your home.
  • Hosting a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume party where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart.

Make trick-or-treating safer:

With neighborhood trick-or-treating uncertain, drop candy-filled goodie bags at friends’ or neighbors’ doorsteps as a contact-free way of spreading the wealth without spreading the germs. Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters and wear masks. Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take outdoor on a table. Remember to wash hands before handling treats. As difficult as it may sound , have your child bring all their candy home, so you can clean them and wipe them down before you have them eat it.

Costumes and Masks:

Although Halloween may look different for your family this year, your child wearing a Halloween costume may still be an option. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a costume for your child and trick or treating outdoors:

  • Visibility: Make sure your child’s costume has bright colors on it. If not, consider adding strips of reflective tape or stickers to it. This will help with being visible to drivers at night.
  • Swapping out costume masks for face paint: Try using face paint and make-up as an alternative to masks. Costume masks can often block your child’s vision causing a potential hazard. Make sure that the face paints used comply with Govt. standards, like the FDA of USA. Read the guidelines given on the paint boxes and comply by them. Also consider water-based face paints, as they are easy to use and even easier to wash off. Be careful with your eyes when using or washing off paints.
  • If using face masks remember
    • Make your cloth mask part of your costume.
    • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
    • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
    • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing
  • Costume length: Make sure that your child’s costume doesn’t have any long or trailing material as this could cause your child to potentially trip and fall.
  • Costume Accessories: If your child’s costume comes with a long sword or cane, make sure that it is made of a soft material. Be sure to add reflective tape or glow-in-the-dark tape to any costume accessories.

Wash your hands

  • Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.

Thanks to COVID-19, Halloween is going to look a lot different this year. Remember you can still have fun but strategize with other parents on creative ways to minimize risk and maximize fun.

Ask the expert: Common Car Seat Questions

Car seats can be very overwhelming because there is so much information and it is hard to know where to get the most accurate content. We have created a bi-weekly series where caregivers have submitted questions and we help answer those questions. Feel free to email us any questions you have or if there is a topic you would like featured.

Car Seat Accessories can be tempted to buy to entertain your child, but they can cause severe injuries. We will cover what should and should not be used with a car seat, toys and car seats, and using items such as towels or mats underneath the car seat.

Can babies play with toys safely while in a car seat? Are the mirrors above the car seat safe?

Every car seat has been crashed tested to meet federal safety guidelines. Each car seat has been through several tests to ensure it as safe as possible for your child. When you start adding toys, mats, padding, or other accessories to the seat, it can interact with how safe the seat is. Best practice is to only use items that came with the original seat. Even a minor change to your child passenger seat, could change the way the car seat is designed and could result in serious injury or death.

Mirrors are especially dangerous because they can come flying off or break during a crash and cause a significant head injury. Best practice is not use mirrors or anything else that attaches to the seat or car seat.

Some after-market products might claim to be crash tested, but this is misleading since there is nothing in the federal safety standards for car seats that covers accessories and these products are not regulated.

While toys may help keep a child entertained during a car ride, they can be very dangerous in a crash. During a crash, unrestrained objects can travel through the car with great force and cause injuries if they were to hit the child or driver. You should never attach a toy to the car seat or straps on the seat. If your child must have a toy in the vehicle, make sure it is soft and lightweight such as small stuffed animal. Best practice would be to avoid toys that are made of plastic or other heavy material as they could cause injuries when slammed against the body.

Are mats under the car seat safe? Is it ok to use the “towel” method to adjust the angle?

Always check your car manual and car seat manual before adding anything underneath the car seat. When you add items such as mats, blankets, or towels underneath the car seat, the seat is no longer positioned against the seat of the vehicle. If the mat shifts over time, it could cause the car seat to no longer to be installed correctly. Best practice would be to put nothing underneath the seat and remove the car seat and to clean the seat frequently. Be sure to check your car manual and car seat manual when cleaning to see which products can be safely used.

With rear-facing seats, it is important seats are reclined correctly. Rear-facing seats will have a recliner indicator on the seat such as line, or level indicator to help you see if the seat is reclined correctly. Best practice is to use these indicators first to adjust the seat. Always check your car seat and car manual to see if an item such as a rolled-up towel or pool noodle can be placed under the seat if you cannot get it reclined correctly. If the manufacture allows you to place something under the seat to adjust the angle, make sure you place it directly under the belt path. You also want to make sure the item does cause the car seat to be reclined incorrectly once you place it under the seat. Always use the recline indicators on the seat to ensure your child’s airway is safely protected and the seat is installed correctly.

Click for more information about Car Seats
Risky Driving Behaviors During COVID-19

Now that the first half of 2020 has ended, and we are in the last quarter of the year, new information and projected data has been released concerning risky driving behaviors for both teens and adults. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released the results from the 2019 Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). This report shows the fatalities in motor vehicle crashes in 2019 and projections for the first half of 2020.

Thus far there is a 2 percent decrease in the estimated number of people who have died in the first half of the year compared to the first half of 2019.1 The total number of fatalities in 2019 decreased compared to the fatalities in 2018. Due to COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, the total traffic volume decreased by over 16 percent during the first half of the year. Although, the total traffic volume and total traffic deaths have decreased from the previous years, there are other safety concerns that have increased during this time. The fatality rate during the second quarter of 2020 increased to 1.42 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) compared to 1.10 fatalities per 100 million VMT during the first quarter of the year.4 The reason for the growing concern is that if people traveled less during this time, then why did the total fatalities increase?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a data report collected from a wide variety of resources that states that people who were still driving during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, were participating in at least one risky driving behavior. These behaviors included speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, and driving under the influence. The overall average speed of all drivers increased as well. These behaviors were determined by an increase in ejection rates and evidence of alcohol and drugs in people who were involved in crashes.

With health and wellness currently being a top priority for everyone across the world. It is important to keep road safety as a top priority as well. This includes wearing a seat belt, avoiding excessive speeding, not driving and the influence, and avoiding aggressive driving.

  • Wear your seat belt every time you get in the car. Seat belts can be very effective if worn properly. This means making sure the lap belt is placed across your hip bone not your stomach and that the shoulder belt is placed across your chest and not behind your back.
  • Aggressive driving is considered excessive speeding over the limit as well as following too closely, improper passing and lane change, red-light running, failure to yield, and changing lanes without signaling.
  • If you are under the influence, use a ride-sharing app to get home or designate someone to be the sober driver.
  • You should avoid speeding whether there are les cars on the roads or not. The idea that it may be okay to go over the speed limit because there are less cars on the road can give drivers a false sense of security. Drivers can receive as little as one and as many eight points on their license for speeding over the printed speed zone. If the speeding violation resulted in a crash additional points may be issued.

It is important to practice safe driving behaviors for yourself, your loved ones, and your teen driver. Visit our website here , for more teen driving safety tips. For more information on how to keep your children safe at home, click here.

  4. Wagner, E., Atkins, R., Berning, A., Robbins, A., Watson, C., & Anderle, J. (2020, October). Examination of the traffic safety environment during the second quarter of 2020: Special report (Report No. DOT HS 813 011). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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
Drowsy Driving

Everyone experiences fatigue at some point, whether because of working overtime at work, tending to a newborn or finding yourself wide awake at night with an inability to fall asleep. These things can lead us to become more accident-prone, particularly when it comes to driving.

Warning signs that you’re getting sleepy behind the wheel include:

  • Drifting from your lane.
  • Yawning or blinking frequently.
  • An inability to remember the last few miles you drove.
  • Hitting the rumble strip on the side of the road.

If you’re experiencing any of these while driving, pull off the road to rest or switch drivers.

In 2017, there were 91,000 police-reported crashes involving drowsy drivers nationwide.1 Those crashes injured about 50,000 people and killed nearly 800.1 Drowsy driving crashes occur most frequently between midnight and 6 a.m.1 Many times the driver was the only person in the vehicle. Drowsy driving related crashes also has high occurrences on highways and rural roads. Drowsiness can affect your driving by making you less attentive, can slow down your reaction time, and can affect your ability to make decisions.3

Adults aren’t the only people experiencing drowsy driving. Getting enough sleep typically falls at the bottom of a teenager’s priority list after school, work, extracurriculars, and social activities. Mixing teen driving inexperience with fatigue can lead to the behaviors mentioned above, or worse: falling asleep while driving.

Smart tips for staying alert and preventing drowsy driving:

  • Remember to get adequate sleep on a regular basis. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before driving.
  • Before a long road trip, get a good night’s rest and plan a driving schedule with the other drivers in the vehicle.
  • Sip a caffeinated coffee to help you stay alert.
  • Avoid taking medications that can make you sleepy.

The National Sleep Foundation says drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. With the lack of public awareness, it can be hard to pass any legal sanctions relating to drowsy driving. Now that you’re aware of the dangers of drowsy driving, remember to share this information with your family, friends, and teen drivers. For more safety tips, visit our website here.

How to make fun Fall snacks

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

Visit our Website
Resources from our generous partners
Tips about Halloween Safety
Click for Tips from Safe Kids
Tips from AllState about Returning to School
Click for Tips from AllState
Tips for Teens and Safe Driving
Click for Tips
Thank you to our generous partners and organizations
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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.