Important Child Safety Reminders

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These important child safety tips just might save a life or save a child from a serious injury.
Please share!

child-safety-tips My friend Amy is an Emergency Room Trauma Nurse at CHOC Children’s Hospital and asked me if I was interested in sharing some of her child safety tips based on her experience and the injuries she has witnessed in light of May being National Trauma Awareness Month. I couldn’t think of a more important post for parents.

Child Safety Tips

by Amy W., MSN, FNP, CEN
Trauma Nurse Coordinator
CHOC Children’s Hospital 

1. Water Safety Tips

Spring and summer are an exciting time of year in Orange County. There is much to celebrate and many reasons for family and friends to gather such as Memorial Day, Graduations, Father’s Day and Fourth of July.

With adults chatting with their friends it is easy to lose sight of adequate supervision of children, especially near bodies of water such as swimming pools.

Drowning is the leading cause of death and disability in California for children under 5 years of age.

It is not even summer yet there have been more than 16 drownings or near-drownings in Orange County already this year. Adequate supervision means not sitting poolside reading, socializing with guests, chatting on the phone, operating the grill or listening to music with a headset. Such distractions are deadly. Here are some reminders for keeping children safe near water.

1. Parents always need to designate an adult to supervise their swimming kids by keeping them in their direct sight at all times. While there may be plenty of bodies milling about the party, if no eyes are trained on the child, a tragedy like drowning can happen in the blink of an eye.

2. Never leave your child unattended near water. Not even for a few seconds.

3. No one is drown proof. Don’t assume your child is water safe just because he or she had swim lessons.

4. If a child is missing, check the pool first.

(Note from Jen: I have heard of people having a special bracelet or other symbol that can be passed around that identifies the adult “on duty” to watch the kids while swimming.  I thought that was a good idea and I wanted to share. Especially during parties where distractions are possible. Plus, it makes sure there is no confusion or miscommunication over who is supposed to be watching the kids.)

2. Avoiding Unintentional Falls

Unintentional falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for children in the United States. As an emergency nurse for over 15 years I have seen it all…falls from playground equipment, bunk beds, trees, etc. However, I am still amazed at the number of children who fall out of second story windows. This occurs in homes of all socioeconomic status and among children of all ages. Some tips to prevent window falls and keep children safe in your home include:

1. Screens are intended to keep bugs out, not children in.

2. Install window stops so windows open no more than 4 inches.

3. Move cribs, chairs and other furniture away from windows.

4. Do not let children climb on furniture or use drawers or shelves as steps.

5. Secure TVs and furniture to the wall using mounts, brackets, braces, anchors or wall straps to prevent tip-overs. These kinds of accident happen more than you might think so take a few minutes, secure your TV and furniture.

3. Poison Danger Reminders

1. Keep toxic substances and medications out of reach of children.

2. Store all chemicals, medicines and toxic products in their original containers, not in food containers or soda bottles that kids will want to drink from.

3. For help, call the nationwide poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Memorize this number, program the poison control center into your cell phone and place it near every landline telephone in your home.

Every Parent Should Know CPR 

Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better. You can find a number of CPR classes near you on the Red Cross website here.

For more information on how to keep your kids safe this summer and everyday please visit to

Amy has worked as a registered nurse in pediatric and adult emergency medicine for over 15 years and is grateful for the opportunity to manage the area’s first pediatric only trauma center. 
Amy is an Orange County native and resides in OC with her husband and two school age children.

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Is This In Your Child’s Backpack?

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Important reminder to put this in your child's backpack

The other day I was picking up my 3rd grade daughter after school when a boy from her class last year came up asking if I had seen his mom.  I hadn’t so I asked him what her cell number was so I could call her.

“I don’t know it.”

Luckily another mom was at pick up who knew his mom and was able to reach her, but it got me to thinking about JUST how important it is to have your cell phone number in your child’s backpack if they don’t have it memorized.

This year we are carpooling with four different families, so it inspired me to write all the moms four cell phone numbers down to keep in my daughter’s backpack.

Every mom these days has her phone in hand – so if your child should need to reach you – they likely could find at least one mom they know and ask to call you.

But, they need to know your number.

Write yours down today and have them pick their place in their backpack where they want to stash it, just in case!

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How to Prepare Your Family for an Earthquake

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How to Prepare Your Family for an Earthquake Last Friday night we were rockin’ and rollin’ in Orange County with a 5.1 trembler that inspired this how to prepare your family for an earthquake post.

We moved back to Southern California when I was ten-years-old and I remember experiencing an earthquake for the first time fairly soon thereafter. The vision of our patio furniture bouncing up and down is one that stays with me.

Growing up here, I remember earthquakes happening somewhat frequently. But the earth has been fairly quiet the last 20 years since the Northridge quake of 1994. In fact, I don’t remember having many earthquakes as an adult. Do you?

Last Friday night was a reminder we DO live in Earthquake country, and it was a wake up call to me, and many others on Facebook that we need to be prepared! Now more than ever, especially since we have children.

I did some research on RedCross and found some info on how to prepare your family for an earthquake that I wanted to share with you.

How to Prepare Your Family for an Earthquake 

Here are three great things I learned on the Red Cross site,

1. Pick safe places in each room of your home, workplace and/or school. A safe place could be under a piece of furniture or against an interior wall away from windows, bookcases or tall furniture that could fall on you.

2. Practice “drop, cover and hold on” in each safe place. If you do not have sturdy furniture to hold on to, sit on the floor next to an interior wall and cover your head and neck with your arms.

3. Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person’s bed in case the earthquake strikes in the middle of the night.

What to Do During an Earthquake

On Friday night I immediately got under a doorway because that is what I thought you were supposed to do.

However, according to the Red Cross,

“Doorways are no stronger than any other part of a structure so don’t rely on them for protection! During an earthquake, get under a sturdy piece of furniture and hold on. It will help shelter you from falling objects that could injure you during an earthquake.”

Here are some other tips what to do during an earthquake:

1. Drop, cover and hold on. Move as little as possible.

2. If you are in bed, stay there, curl up and hold on. Protect your head with a pillow.

3. Stay away from windows to avoid being injured by shattered glass.

Good to know. I had never even had a conversation with my kids about what to do during an earthquake at home before!

Emergency Survival Kit Essentials 

You can find a full list of things to have on hand if an earthquake disaster were to strike, but here are some of the essentials Red Cross recommends having at the very minimum in a survival kit:

1. Water – one gallon per person, per day (2 week supply for home)
2. Food – non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (2 week supply for home)
3. Flashlight
4. Battery-powered radio
5. Extra batteries
6. First aid kit
7. Medications and prescriptions for family members
8. Multi-purpose tool
9. Sanitation/personal hygiene items
10. Copies of personal documents
11. Cell phone with charger
12. Family and emergency contact information
13. Extra cash
14. Emergency blanket
15. Map of the area

I am hoping we will not have to use any of these tips, but it is better to be ready, and prepare our kids just in case.

All information taken from the website. Does anyone else have any information you would like to share on how to prepare your family for an earthquake?

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An Easy Way to Teach Kids Their Phone Number

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I have discovered an easy way to teach kids their phone number and I wanted to share it with you today.

It’s always been important for both of my kiddos learn how to recite important identifying numbers early in  life, particularily their phone numbers and address for their safety.

Just think – in an emergency, does your child know their phone number?

Now days, most people I know (myself included) operate with their cell phones, and very few seem to have the archaic “landline” anymore, so you have to determine the best number to teach them first.

Mine?  Daddy’s?  I chose my cell phone first…because…well, I’m mommy.

Sing a Song with M-I-C-K-E-Y

Now for the simple part.  Sing a song.  And not just any song…but the old school Mickey Mouse Club March.  Need a refresher on how that goes? Watch it with your kids here…

So here goes a sample verse:

“M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E
Hey! there, Hi! there, Ho! there
You’re as welcome as can be
M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E”

Okay, now that you have that tune in your head (and it might stay there), adjust the following lyrics to:

(Put your 10 digit phone number, including your area code, in for the “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E” part)

“1-1-1(pause) 1-1-1(pause) 1-1-1-1 (hold out this number for two syllables to make it fit within the tune)

Mommy’s phone, mommy’s phone
Whenever you need help, call mommy’s phone!”

A little cheesy, I know, but it WORKS!

Like with any new concept, your kiddo is probably not going to pick up on it immediately.  Practice it every day with just ONE phone number. They will get it. Now I quiz my five-year-old at random times and have her recite it.

After a few months of practicing it every day (just to make sure it was drilled into her memory), we practiced her daddy’s number.  She now knows both without blinking an eye.

Note:  If your cell phone has a password protected lock screen, keep in mind that you’ll have to teach them that passcode too!  What if they have to grab your phone and dial 9-1-1 on their own?  Make sure they know how to use your cell phone, just in case.

Do you have any tips or tricks to share?  Any song(s) that work better?  How did you teach your child their phone number?  Please share below!

 Photo Credit:  photo©2013 Prepayasyougo, Flickr

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Lil Swimmers, Inc. – OC Swim Lessons for Kids

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Isn’t it great when your kids try something new and love it? That was my experience when one of our Sponsors, Lil Swimmers, Inc., a company specializing in South OC swim lessons for kidsinvited my little ones to try a lesson in Laguna Niguel. They are also offering Tiny Oranges readers a free trial swim lesson as well, details below!

My daughter Georgia is 4 years old and has never taken a swim lesson before (I know, I’m a little late to the party, but please don’t judge!). So, when I pulled up to Michelle’s home to take our first swim lesson I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

Luckily, Michelle, the owner and instructor of Lil Swimmers, Inc. was patient and caring with my newbie and helped get her acclimated with the water.

Within 15 minutes she was floating unassisted. Disclaimer: she was probably floating on her own for only a couple of seconds, but I was still wildly impressed!

After my lesson I asked Michelle a few questions that I thought would be helpful for anyone looking for a great place to take their kids in South OC for swim lessons.

Interview with Owner/Swim Instructor,
Michelle of Lil Swimmers  

I see from your website FAQ’s that the Red Cross suggests starting lessons no earlier than 6 months. What age do you recommend parents start swim lessons? Do you have a favorite age to teach?

The Red Cross suggests 6 months, but at that age the class is a parent and me class, it’s all about getting comfortable in the water and educating parents on ways to hold their children in the water to help facilitate future learning.  It’s a fantastic building block but by no means required. 

The real learning to swim without assistance takes place around 15-18 months.

For any family with a pool or water on their property, I strongly suggest starting swim lessons by this age.  Having a pool at my home, my own kids were in the water as early as 4 months and safe enough for me to sit on the edge and watch them play by 18 to 20 months.

My favorite age is probably 18-24 months; they’re so cute and their personalities are really forming. Even though they are still so young, they are also very capable. And I just love their little voices!

Older children are great for different reasons; with the big kids I’m able to explain things to them and know that they’re getting it. I love seeing the quick progress of their strokes and observing the bonds formed with fellow swimmers.

You offer both private and group lessons, what would you say are the benefits and challenges (if any) to both options?

Private lessons are great because the child learns quicker, but they are expensive.  And the child doesn’t get to watch and learn from a peer.  They also don’t get to play as much when they are by themselves.  What’s great, is that our semi private lessons only have 2 children sharing 30 minutes.  I feel parents get the best of both worlds!

What can parents do to help their kids learn to love and respect the water?

Start at bath time, don’t be shy about getting your child’s face wet in the bath.  One of the biggest challenges instructors face with new students is that the child doesn’t like to get their faces wet.

The more comfortable they are with this simple step, the better.  Another easy thing parents can do is to discuss the lessons and the instructor in a positive way. Hearing how proud their parents are, really encourages the kids.

What made you want to become a swim instructor?

I became a swim instructor because of my love of the outdoors, the water, and kids.

When my husband and I moved into our home, I was not working.  He encouraged me to find something that I could be passionate about instead of just looking for available jobs.  He kept telling me to do what I love instead of looking for a position to fill. 

As a child, I lived in the water.  We had a pool and water skied as a family.  Teaching lessons started out as more of a hobby.  Luckily, I was good at it and really enjoyed the kids and their families.  Once I had my own kids, I had a better understanding of the importance of water safety and the service that I was providing.  I have made great friends with many of the parents that I’ve met.  I feel so fortunate to have my work.

I love that answer! There’s nothing better than making a living at something you love. Kudos to your husband for being so encouraging. Okay, last question. I love the calm, balanced approach you have to teaching kids to swim. Do you have any go to tricks you use if the child is struggling with nerves in the water?

For any kids struggling with nerves, be calm and consistent.  They need to feel secure, and I do that by using gentle words and by holding them in a way that makes them feel that you are in control and that you will take care of them.

Often, I see instructors try to make the kids happy by trying to make them laugh or distract them.  I don’t think that is the right approach.  They are terrified for their lives and it should be acknowledged.  They need to know that the person in charge is confident and trustworthy.

Our instructors tell the children exactly what’s going to happen and when, so that the child quickly learns what the expectations are.  There are no surprises. Once they are comfortable, then everyone has more fun!

Michelle, thanks so much for your sharing your answers with us. I’ve learned a lot about your teaching style and I think our readers have too.

Free Trial for Tiny Oranges Readers

Now for the best part. Michelle has generously offered all Tiny Oranges readers a free trial swim lesson at Lil Swimmers if you call now through June 30th, 2013 and mention this post!

South Orange County Swim Lessons
Laguna Niguel


Michelle Coulston
oclilswimmers {at}

[Disclosure: Lil Swimmers, Inc. is a Tiny Oranges Sponsor and I received a complimentary lesson to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own!]

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