College-Campus-150x150College should be an experience full of adventure, learning, and growing for students. Unfortunately for some of these students, the college experience is ruined by immature and mean-spirited acts of hazing in fraternities and sororities.  There are physical and psychological effects from such hazing events.  In 2019, the Florida legislature passed a new set of Hazing Laws that could apply to situations that take in place in fraternities and sororities.

Law makers are cracking down on hazing across the country, but in Florida especially. The laws have evolved with the unfortunate nature of hazin. It should be noted that the absence from a particular hazing event is no longer looked at as a lack of involvement in the eyes of law enforcement. Even if an individual was not physically present at the hazing event, if he or she helped plan it, he or she can be subject to criminal charges. While this provision will most likely affect organization leaders, the new law could also hold school administrator’s responsible. This new provision is meant to act as a catch-all regardless of an individual’s level of involvement, as in the past general chapter members have gotten away with hazing, while only the heavily involved and officers were charged.

The new law is called Andrew’s Law, named after Andrew Coffey, a Florida State Univesity student who died in 2017 from alcohol poisoning. He was participating in a fraternity ritual where he was required to drink an entire fifth of alcohol, following the instructions from his “big brother”. Andrew was 20 years old when he died with a blood alcohol level nearly six times the legal limit, after falling into unconsciousness and being left alone until the next day. Florida State Univesity’s Greek Life program was altered by the school’s president after Andrew’s death.  The Chad Meredith Act was also signed in 2005 following the hazing death of a University of Miami student who died tragically in a fraternity hazing incident in 2001. The Act made hazing a first-degree misdemeanor and a third-degree felony if a victim was seriously injured or killed.

Day-Care-Center-Toy-Blocks-150x150Day care centers should be safe havens for children.  Children, especially toddlers and infants, are curious.  However, they lack safety awareness and the ability at times to voice or signal distress.  It is vital that day care centers remove all hazards away from toddlers and infants. This includes hazards or risks associated with choking.  For instance, a simple cup of coins within reach of a toddler or infant can have disastrous results if the child put a coin in his or her mouth.  Day care center employees should survey all areas of play, instruction, and sleep.  Anything that may present itself as a choking hazard should be removed from the area and be kept outside of the reach and exploration of the children.

The Center for Disease Control lists choking as the fourth leading cause of unintentional death for children under the age of five. This is because young children can choke on anything smaller than a D-size battery, which includes food, toys, and miscellaneous household objects. Because of the high risk possessed by choking and choking hazards, day care centers need to take many precautions to ensure the safety of their students, especially toddlers and infants. First, children during breakfast, lunch or snack time should never be left unattended, and the person watching them should encourage thorough chewing and cut up pieces they feel might be too large. Additionally, child care professionals should keep small objects out of reach, as curious children tend to put new things in their mouths; this also means that toys for small children and older kids should be kept in separate places, and toys for the younger children should exclude small or breakable parts. Day care workers should always keep an eye on small children and make sure they aren’t trying to swallow foreign objects. Day care workers are also required to learn CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver in the event of an emergency.

However, if these precautions are not taken, tragedy might strike, like earlier this year, when a 10-month old child choked to death on a pine cone at a North Carolina day care center. In order to prevent a similar misfortune to happen to their child, parents should research a day care center before sending a child there, to make sure that there have not been any problems in the past. A day care should ease a parent’s worries about a child, not make them worse.

Swimming-Pool-Safety-150x150Children are curious.  Through some determination and exploration, a child will find his or her way to water.  This can be especially dangerous to toddlers who lack safety awareness.  Even more so, when adult supervision is lacking or less than focused on the safety issues.  Tragedies can and do occur, even when there is a crowd of adults nearby.

The Center for Disease Control reports that drowning is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of one and four, and that drowning makes up one-third of unintentional injury deaths of children in the same age range. This should make drowning a concern for many parents and child care providers, especially those with a swimming pool or hot tub in their home. There is a myriad of precautions parents and child care providers can take, and they can depend based on the specifics of the parents or the children. The CDC recommends that parents and child care providers enclose any area of open water with a gated fence or a cover for the pool or hot tub, as well as learn CPR in case their child falls into the pool.

Parents and child care providers should also take care to tell their children that they are not to go in aquatic areas without an adult present. Adult supervision of swimming children is vital, as shown by a tragedy that occurred earlier this year. Two children drowned in separate incidents over Memorial Day weekend in Texas. Both drownings occurred in very brief intervals of time where adults were not paying attention. In the aftermath, authorities recommended having a designated pool watcher at any pool parties with young children present. A designated watcher is a responsible adult that acts as a sort of lifeguard, watching the children from outside the pool to make sure everything is okay. Adults can even take shifts as the watcher, as long as someone is always keeping a watchful eye. The most important thing is that the watcher does not get distracted, which means they cannot look at their phone or get in the pool. This ensures that all children in the pool or hot tub are being watched, which seriously reduces the risk of of a drown incident / injury.

Toy-Block-Letter-A-and-D-150x150Proper supervision at a day care center includes ongoing monitoring during nap time. It should be noted that nap time is not the time for a day care center worker to attend to other tasks and children  There are risks associated with nap time including but not limited to suffocation and oxygen deprivation.  This is especially applicable to infants and toddlers.  Timely intervention in the form of removing an object from the child’s access, turning and repositioning the child, and CPR can and does save the lives of children at risk during nap time.

The Center for Disease Control reports that about 3,500 children die in their sleep every year. Excluding Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the most common cause of sleep-related deaths is accidental suffocation. There are a number of precautions a parent can take to ensure the safety of their infant or toddler, but there is still a risk if the child attends a day care. Day care centers also must work to provide a safe environment during nap time.  One of the most important precautions caregivers must take while putting a baby or infant down for a nap is to place the child on their back. This reduces the risk of SIDS by providing the maximum amount of oxygen for a child. Day care centers should provide a child a stable surface  for sleep time or nap time like a firm mattress in a crib. Similarly, soft objects, like stuffed animals, and loose bedding should be removed from the crib. The primary job of a caretaker during nap time is to keep a watchful eye on all the sleeping infants and toddlers. It is vital that day care center workers provide their full, undivided attention on the children. When a parent is looking at day cares, they need to make sure that the caregivers have the proper training, such as CPR. Simple precautions like taking the time to watch infants and toddlers during naptime without distractions can save lives.

It was reported in Lansing, Illinois, where a ten month old child suffocated in his sleep while left unattended at a day care for over two hours. It was noted by media reports that there were no attempts at CPR by any of the day care center workers. The parents later filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the day care center.

Lawnmower-Safety-150x150

In every community, there is a common danger to children in the form of lawnmowers.  The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that approximately eight hundred children are run over by lawnmowers every year.  Of these admissions, it is estimated that approximately 600 amputations are treated or performed at local hospitals.

Statistics from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) show that 60 percent of lawn mower accidents occur to boys from ages 3 to 16. It is paramount in order protect your children this summer for a parent to be aware of proper safety practices when using lawnmowers. The AAP recommends that parents wait until their child is 12 years old before operating a push mower and 16 years old before operating a ride on lawn mower. It is important to remember that these are merely guidelines for parents whom should also take into account their child’s maturity when deciding to let the child take on this task. Proper attire can prevent unnecessary accidents from occurring instruct your children to not wear open toe shoes (or anything that does not fully cover one’s feet), long pants to prevent leg injury, and ear and eye protection for further coverage. Before the child begins his or her first attempt at mowing a lawn, teaching your child the ins and outs of the machine and how it works can reduce risk due to incorrect operation. Consider going over the user manual of your specific mower with your child in order to fully educate them. Another lesson that could benefit your child relates to blade safety. Reminding the the child to turn the mower off and let it cool down before dislodging any debris that may be caught in it. A parent could also opt to have their child let the parent handle debris caught in the blades if the parent does not believe they are ready for that responsibility. In the case of push mowers, the practice of “always forward never backwards” is a good rule of thumb for avoiding injuries during use.

Parents must also be weary themselves when using lawn mowers as a lack of caution could still cause an incident involving your child and the mower. Whether it be a child or a parent, there should be nobody around when mowing the lawn. To prevent accidents, do not allow your children to play outside nearby or walk along the adjacent sidewalk while mowing. Children should also not walk alongside the mower or ride atop one with a parent as it is only meant for a single rider. One last general tip that benefits both parents and their children is the idea of preparing a lawn to be mowed. Removing any large debris whether it be rocks, toys, or gravel and prevent dangerous incidents that are commonly associated with lawn mowers.

Day-Care-Center-Toy-Blocks-150x150A day care center should be a safe haven for children. It is important that the day care center management and workers are mindful of safety measures for the children enrolled in the program.  Infants and toddlers are at risk for choking from every day items at a day care center. It is well known or should be well known to the day care center workers that small children lack safety awareness.  In particular, a child will put an object in his or her mouth without thinking or understanding the consequences of such a simple act.  Whether it is a coin, button, small toy piece, bottle cap, or other item, a moment of inattention on the part of a day care center worker can lead to significant personal injuries and even the death of a child. 
 
On the checklist for any size day care center, the staff should monitor all areas accessible by the children as to choking hazards. Any and all choking hazards should be kept out of the reach of the children. In addition, there should be constant monitoring if by chance a child some how – some way manages to swallow a small object that can block the airway or cause internal damages / injuries. 
 
It was recently reported that a 10 month old child enrolled in a North Carolina day care center choked on a piece of a pine cone. The incident was reported to take place at or near the A Hug A Day Daycare Center located in Raleigh, North Carolina.  See 10 Month Old Dies at North Carolina Day Care Center Atter Choking on a Pine Cone.

Florida-Dog-Bite-150x150A dog can be a great companion and friend.  Certainly, there are many benefits to dog ownership.  There are also responsibilities as well.  When a dog bites a child or another person, the dog owner can be liable for the resulting personal injuries.  In the State of Florida, a dog owner is strictly liable for the injuries / damages caused by the dog bite even if the dog never showed any dangerous propensities.  Strict liability is a bit different than a negligence standard which applies to automobile accidents, slip and falls, and other personal injury matters.

Under the Florida Strict Liability Rule, the dog bite victim is not required to show negligence or carelessness on behalf to the dog owner. The dog bite victim is only required to show that the victim was bitten or attacked and suffered injuries. There are some exceptions to the strict liability rule when signs are posted and the victim is a trespasser. However, in most instances, the dog owner will be liable for the personal injuries.

Dogs bite for a multitude of reasons whether it is from being put in a stressful situation or protection of an owner/pup. According to research conducted by otolaryngologists, dogs weighing in over 66 pound and dogs with square shaped heads are more likely to cause serious injury with a bite. It is widely believed that dog breed is a tell of an animal’s likelihood to bite, which is represented in myths such as pit bulls being the most dangerous breed. But information from the American Veterinary Medical Association may suggest otherwise. After evaluating multiple data sets the AVMA came to the conclusion that while breed may be a factor in dog bites, the breed type just a small piece of the puzzle. Other factors such as training methods, sex, neutering status, and the environment in which the dog is kept affect the aggressiveness to similar degrees.

Summer-Pool-Time-150x150Summer is filled with fun, games, and outdoor activities.  Children get a break from school and the time to enjoy the outdoors.  While summer can be filled with wonderful activities and fun, it also is filled with risks and dangers.  This is especially true for any and all activities in or near water. Children, especially toddlers and infants, do not understand the risks / dangers associated with swimming pools and other aquatic areas.  While the risks of drowning are well known or should be well known to adults / child care providers, there are still reported drownings of children every year.

For children one to four years old, drowning is statistically the most likely cause of death, but there are ways in which it can be avoided. Unattended bodies of water such as bathtubs, ponds, and pools serve as the biggest threat to your child’s safety. According to KidsHealth.org it takes less than 2 inches of water for a young child to drown, meaning any small bodies of water whether it be in a sink or toilet could pose risks to a child’s safety. Unsupervised access to these bodies of water could quickly lead to a drowning case in which it only takes 90 seconds for your child to potentially pass away. The National Safety Council recommends that parents give their children swim lessons from an early age in order to teach them how to swim and further prevent a possible drowning incident.

From the perspective of a community center or any organization tasked with watching children near bodies of water, supervision is of the utmost importance. Having at least one designated “water watcher” lowers the chances of unexpected drowning instances. In cases pertaining to community pools there may be a lifeguard watching the water but it is always safe to assign at least one additional “water watcher” in order to account for moments in which the lifeguard may not be paying attention OR otherwise occupied with another situation. When a drowning or potential drowning incidnt occurs, there is very little time to react and potentially save a life. Ensure that employees and parents are aware of CPR techniques as this knowledge and skill may be the difference between life and death in these occurrences. Around larger bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers, and oceans, ensure that all children are fashioned with life jackets, even if they are adequate swimmers. Life jackets could also be used in smaller bodies of water for weaker swimmers. When at these natural bodies of water also be aware of local wildlife and foliage that could potentially cause a drowning incident. Large waves and undertows are also known causes of drowning so be sure to keep children away from these parts of the water. Teaching children to not stand with their back to waves can lower the odds of them being knocked over and into the water. Safety first should be top of mind in any situation where a child is in or near a water area.

Bicycle-Helmet-150x150Many States, including Florida, have helmet laws requiring children under a certain age to wear a bicycle helmet. With or without these laws in place, it is important from a safety standpoint that a child wear a helmet.  Whether the child is out for a short ride or a longer one, a bicycle helmet can make a big difference in preventing injuries from taking place or by reducing the severity of the injuries caused by a bicycle accident.

Nearly 50 children visit the emergency room every hour due to injuries sustained in wheeled sports activities, like riding a bicycle. Due to this risks of head trauma associated with bicyce riding, parents should go over basic bicycle safety with their children. While riding a bike, children should look both ways while crossing the street and walk their bikes while crossing busy intersections. If riding on the road, they should use bike lanes whenever possible and obey all traffic rules, but children under the age of 10 should stay on the sidewalks. Parents should teach their children the proper hand signals while biking and do regular maintenance on their bicycle to make sure it is safe. All of these techniques are important in keeping bicycle riders safe, but the most important precaution often goes overlooked – the bicycle helmet.

Wearing a helmet by bicycling is paramount in ensuring a child’s safety. Research shows that helmet usage does decrease the occurrence and seriousness of head injuries.  Despite this clear research, the statistics as to the non-use of helmets for children while riding a bicycle are staggering. It is estimated that 18% of parents claim their children never wear a helmet while biking. Parents can be quite lenient with their children as to helmet usage. Some children complain about the look or fit of their bicycle helmet, so parents (to avoid yet another right or argument) do not require their children to wear it. But this should not be the case. Helmets are the best method of preventing serious head injury if a rider falls or is hit by a car. The costs of a helmet is a small price to pay for this crucial safety measure.

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2019/05/Nanny-Cam.001-150x150.jpegVideo surveillance equipment in the home, day care centers, and schools can and do go a long way in identifying abuse and preventing it.  When an infant or toddler is being abused or neglected, the child does not have the ability to advocate for himself or herself; however, a video showing such abuse can do the talking for the child.  A caregiver should exhibit restraint, love, and patience when supervising a child.  Unfortunately, there are far too many instances of abuse and neglect by the very people who are supposed to protect a child – the caregiver.

Parents should be aware of signs of abuse or neglect. An abused child will have frequent, unexplained injuries like bruises, black eyes, or cuts and often wear unusual clothing to hide these marks. A child may  seem withdrawn or have very stifled emotional reactions to things, especially pain. An abused child can often seem watchful, as if he or she is waiting for something bad to happen. A neglected child may have bad hygiene, lack proper bathing or have a noticeable body odor. Clothes can be ill-fitting or unwashed. Neglected children are frequently left unsupervised or allowed to play in unsafe situations. These are all indicators of abuse after it has already happened, but there are some methods to obtain proof of abuse.

A “nanny cam” is a webcam or other small camera placed in a parent’s home where they can monitor their babysitter to see if they are taking proper care of the children. These cameras can even be connected to the internet so parents can watch in real-time. Nanny cams are an effective way to gather evidence of a caretaker abusing a child in the event of a criminal or civil lawsuit.  While a nanny cam can document abuse, the video / audio content of the nanny cam is not always admissible in a civil or criminal case.  The admissibility of such evidence will be determined by the applicable laws in place and the rulings of the judge assigned to the case.  The State of Florida is a “two-party consent state,” which means that, if the nanny cam records both video and audio, parents must notify the babysitter that they are going to be recorded. If there is no consent, nanny cam video or audio might be ruled inadmissible in legal proceedings, according to Florida Statute section 934.03. Nonetheless, nanny cams are the among the best ways to show definitive proof of child abuse, especially when the child is unable to properly communicate.  When hiring a nanny, it may be advisable to have the nanny sign an employment form which advises the nanny that the home is equipped with audio and video equipment at random parts of the home.  While this will give the nanny notice that he or she is being watched, it does not necessary inform the nanny where the equipment is set up.  If the parent incorporates this language into a longer document, the nanny may ultimately forget what he or she signed and still engage in abusive conduct that is documented on the video even with knowledge of the equipment in place.