Articles Posted in Child Safety

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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.

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.

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As parents, we do our best to protect and care for our children. In the modern day era, it is impossible and impractical to watch over a child on a 24 / 7 basis. Children are at risk for abduction any time that they are in a public place. A parent can put one safety measure in place that may ultimately prevent an abduction. It is called a code word. It is a unique word or phrase that only the parents and select people know. As such, if a child is approached by an adult who the child does not know, the child can ask the adult for the code word. If the adult does not know the code word, this can be a warning sign that the adult has no ties to the child. At times, a bona fide emergency can occur in which the person does not know the code word. However, for others, it is just a stranger intending to do harm and abduct a child.

A situation in Arizona exemplifies the efficacy of code words. Reports indicate that a forty-year-old man in a white SUV approached an eleven-year-old girl to tell her that she needed to leave the park and come with him because her parents had been in a serious accident. The young girl refused to go with him due to his lack of knowledge of her family’s safe word. The man drove off immediately without abducting the girl.

Occurrences of this nature demonstrate the great importance of parents teaching their children precautions to prevent kidnappings. As evidenced in Arizona, code words remain an effective tool for ensuring the safety of children. Kids Health, a division of a children’s hospital, recommends additional safety precaution to teach children, including: never accept candy from strangers, never go anywhere with a stranger even if they promise something fun, say no if anyone ever asks them to do something they think is wrong, how to call 911, and emergency procedures in case they ever get lost or feel unsafe. See Kids Health – Abductions.

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There is a common danger in homes, day care centers, schools, and other facilities.  The common danger is in the form of window blinds.  There are injury risks associated with window blind cords including those related to bruises, cuts, scrapes, and most significantly strangulation.  While it is well known and widely reported that window blind cords represent a significant risk to small children, reports of injuries continue to take place because safety precautions were not taken by the applicable child care provider.

It is estimated that approximately 17,000 children under the age of six years old were admitted to a hospital between the time period of 1990 and 2015 due to window blind related personal injuries.  The same report estimated that one child per month died as a result of window blind cord strangulation during this time period.  Toddlers and small children have poor safety awareness.  As such, what appears to be fun to a toddler can actually pose a significant danger.  The report on window blind injuries gathered together data from emergency rooms.  As such, there are most likely more injuries that took place than were part of this study.

While there have been proposals and recommendations by the United States Product Safety Commission as to standards to make cords covered and / or unreachable by children, these recommendations have not been approved or placed into law as of yet.

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Halloween is a holiday mostly celebrated by children and for children. There are also adult parties and adult participation; however, the core part of Halloween is the journey through the neighborhood engaged in the tradition of visiting houses and collecting candy just by virtue of the statement “Trick or Treat”.  Let’s face it, there is a certain paradise for children on Halloween which is in the form of “Free Candy”.   Dressing home and pretending to be a favorite Disney character or super hero is pretty cool as well.  For most children, Halloween evening / night is just about the best night of the year.  For others unfortunately, Halloween night can be the time in which a child suffers a serious personal injury or even dies due to the negligence of others.

Some tragic events that take place during Halloween can be avoided.  Here are some safety tips to keep in mind.  Some are fairly basic and well know.  Nevertheless, it is important to keep these tips in mind and actually follow them to make Halloween night as safe as possible:

Don’t Trick or Treat at All.  Find alternatives to the door-to-door trick or treat journey.  Have a party.  Have the neighbors gather together in one place for a candy distribution.  While it does seem counter intuitive to discourage traditional trick or treat activities, having children remain in one general area or home can avoid many accidents or incidents from taking place.

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2017/08/Day-Care-Center-Hot-Van.001-150x150.jpegIn Florida and other warm weather States, the same tragic story seems to be reported every Spring and Summer.  A child is left by a day care center in a van or bus and dies as a result of hyperthermia.  The name of the child is different but the story seems to be the same.  The child was forgotten in the van or bus because roll call was not properly taken and double checked. These “Hot Car” or “Hot Van” deaths are among the easiest to prevent.  It does not require the investment of millions, thousands, or even hundreds of dollars to prevent.  It only requires a pen, paper, and the attentiveness of one staff member to prevent these deaths from taking place.  While it may be tedious to check and double check when children get on and off of a day care center or school bus – the mundane and tedious work is well worth the fact that the lives of children can be saved with this due diligence.  The fact is the we live in a world of distractions and multiple responsibilities on the part of day care centers and child care centers.  However, the fact that there are distractions and multiple responsibilities are never ever an excuse or defense to leaving a child alone in a hot van, car, or school bus.
A recent death of a 3 year old child in the Orlando area is yet one of many deaths reported when roll call or a head count was not properly completed.  When the temperature outside is in the 80s or 90s, the temperature inside in the vehicle can be 40 to 50 degrees or even hotter inside the vehicle.   In just a few minutes, a small child can go from healthy to dead when left alone and unattended in a hot day care center van, bus, or vehicle.  It was reported that Myles Hill, a 3 year old girl, was left on a day care center vehicle operated by Little Miracles Academy.  Following the death of the child, criminal charges were filed in the form of aggravated manslaughter by the State Attorney’s office.  You can read more about this topic at  3 Year Old Child Dies in Orlando Florida – Day Care Center Hot Van Death. 
When a child dies as a result of the negligence of a day care center, child care provider, summer camp, school, or other third party, the parents can file a wrongful death case against the responsible party, individual, and business.  In Florida, wrongful death cases are governed by both case law and statutes as set forth in Florida Statutes Chapter 768.

https://www.floridachildinjurylawyer.com/files/2017/07/Red-Vehicle.001-150x150.jpegIn the State of Florida, it is a crime to leave a child unattended in a vehicle that is turned off.  Pursuant to Section 316.6135, Florida Statutes, it is a misdemeanor to leave a child unattended in a vehicle for more than 15 minutes.  It is a felony if the child suffers significant bodily harm, permanent injury, or disfigurement as a result of being left unattended in the vehicle.  It is also a misdemeanor leaving a child unattended in a vehicle that is still running if the health of the child is put at risk OR the child appears to be in distress. 

The statute as it currently reads is a bit troublesome in that a child can suffer serious personal injuries or even death by being left in a hot car or day care center van in less than 15 minutes.  Some lawmakers in the State of Florida are pushing for changes to this legislation / Florida law to better protect children and to serve as a reminder to parents, guardians, caregivers, and day care centers to stop putting children at risk by leaving children in a vehicle.  

David Wolf – Personal Injury Attorney – is based in Jacksonville, Florida and handles child injury, automobile accident, day care center, and related cases throughout the State of Florida.  He is the author of 11 books including the book titled The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know and the book titled Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. You can get these books for free by visiting the Personal Injury Book Section of the Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A. Law Firm Website. 

Fractured-Arm-150x150In Florida, working parents rely on day care centers to provide supervision and education in a supportive environment. When there are issues or problems with a day care center, parents often question whether there is a case or claim to pursue on behalf of injured child. It should be noted that there may be a legal case or claim to pursue yet the practical considerations, costs, and risks may end up deterring some parents and attorneys from formally pursuing a case.  There are four essential elements of a day care center case as follows: 1 – Duty  2 – Breach of Duty  3 – Causation  4 – Damages
Based in Jacksonville, Florida, David Wolf is a partner in the law firm of Wood, Atter & Wolf.  As a child injury attorney and advocate, David Wolf handles cases throughout the State of Florida.  He is the author of 10 books including books that focus on child injury matters.  He is the author of the book – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know and the book titled – Florida Day Care Center Injuries – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – Building Blocks of Knowledge for Parents. For over 26 years, David Wolf has represented injured children and their families in the aftermath of an accident or incident causing personal injuries. Read more about the books written by David Wolf at Personal Injury Books and Resources for Clients and Prospective Clients.
In evaluating the potential elements of a case, it is important to consider the particular facts, circumstances, evidence, and law on point.  It should be noted that all four elements must be established to pursue a case on a behalf of an injured child.  From a practical standpoint, the case or claim may not be pursued if the injuries were minimal and do not require much in the way of medical intervention and treatment.  Of course, each claim or case should be evaluated on its own facts and circumstances.

Pedestrian-Triangle-Sign-150x150In Jacksonville, Florida and other cities, drivers should be on the look out for pedestrians and bicyclists especially those who are young children.  Drivers should slow down in school zones, residential areas, crosswalks, and anywhere else there may be a child pedestrian or child bicyclist.  It should be noted that Florida is a comparative fault state.  As such, the injured child and / or parents of an injured child can bring a legal action for personal injuries or wrongful death even if the child may have been partially at fault for the incident or accident.  It should also be noted that children under the age of 6 years old cannot be held to be negligent or at fault as a matter of law in the State of Florida.

A recent tragedy was reported in Jacksonville, Florida.  It was reported that a child was hit by a vehicle while attempting to cross a street with other children at the intersection of A1A and the Wonderwood Connector in Mayport – Jacksonville Florida.  It was reported by the local media that the driver continued through the intersection on a yellow light.  It was also reported that the child, who ultimately died as a result of the pedestrian – vehicle accident related personal injuries, was in the sixth grade. You can read more about this story at Boy Hit While Crossing the Street in Jacksonville, Florida (Mayport).

The wrongful death of a child has a ripple effect through the family, neighborhood, school, and community.  It is heartbreaking for the parents and extended family.  It is extremely upsetting for the school.  It can be quite a bewildering experience to have a friend / classmate sit in front of a student one day and then never to return because of a tragic pedestrian accident.