Where’s Baby? Look Before You Lock

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As temperatures across the country continue to escalate above average highs, it is more important than ever to understand the health effects for children. Infants and young children are particularly sensitive to the effects of extreme heat and must rely on others to keep them safe. When left in a hot vehicle, a young child’s body temperature can increase three to five times as quickly as an adult’s.

On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle (http://www.safekids.org/heatstroke). These deaths are preventable, and everyone in the community, especially Head Start and child care providers, has a role to play in protecting our children.

Here are a few simple things you can do:

  • Make it part of your everyday routine to account for all children in your care. Set up backup systems to check and double-check that no child is left in the vehicle. Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle—even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running with the air conditioning on. Vehicles heat up quickly; if the outside temperature is in the low 80s, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes, even with a window rolled down 2 inches.
  • Always make a habit of looking in the vehicle—front and back—before locking the door and walking away.
  • Get in touch with designated family members if a child who is regularly in your care does not arrive as expected.
  • Create reminders to ensure that no child is accidentally left behind in the vehicle. Place an item that is needed at your final destination in the back of the vehicle next to the child or place a stuffed animal in the driver’s view to indicate that a child is in the car seat.
  • Call 911 or your local emergency number immediately if you see a child alone in a hot vehicle. If he or she is in distress due to heat, get the child out as soon as possible and cool him or her down rapidly.

Source: Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Keeping Your Kids (and Your Wallet) Cool This Summer

If your July was anything like mine, it was H-O-T!  With record-breaking temperatures and near-daily heat advisories, finding inexpensive, indoor ways to entertain your kids during the summer months can prove challenging.  As a mom of two little ones (four and two), I’ve tried to find economical and fun ways to keep my kids busy on those days when it’s just too hot to go outside.

Foster Creativity

With most schools out on summer break, it’s important to regularly provide your children with time to draw, color, paint, and create.  Give a child a crayon and the possibilities are endless!  August is a good time to buy art supplies because many discount retailers are running back-to-school specials.  Take advantage of the sales by stocking your home with many simple craft supplies that cost as little as $.25 to $1.00 each!  The basics?  Crayons, markers, colored pencils, a watercolor paint set, finger paint (look for poster paint, which is usually a few dollars cheaper), safety scissors, glue sticks/school glue, construction paper, a coloring book, and drawing paper.  For under $10, you can create an art kit that will keep your kids so entertained they’ll forget they are inside!

To supplement your store-bought supplies, look for items around the house to reuse and repurpose.  Save empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, magazines, empty milk cartons, and soda bottles.  Find an old box to house your new art supplies, and let your kids’ first craft be to decorate it!  Collect old buttons, ribbons, and fabric.  Rinse and save your Popsicle sticks.  Got extra cotton balls in the bathroom?  Glue them to a piece of construction paper to make clouds (or better yet, let your kids make a winter snow scene on a hot summer day!).

Make TV-Time Special

Let’s be realistic… your kids will likely watch TV this summer (especially on those 100+ days when it’s too hot to even go swimming).  Limit TV-time and don’t let the television become your safety-net.  Whether you have digital cable or a digital antenna, you can find quality children’s programming on your local public broadcast stations both mid-morning and mid-afternoon.  We saved money for over a year and a half by nixing our pricey cable and using an antenna.  I’ve found that some of the most educational and entertaining children’s TV shows are free!

Also, try having a family movie day.  Together with your kids, choose a movie to watch as a family, and make it a big deal.  Rent a $1 movie from a local kiosk and pop popcorn or make special snacks.  Many local movie theaters also offer deals during the summer months, including earlier matinees, dollar movies, a discounted admission day (like “Movie Monday” where admission is half off), or even free children’s admission to scheduled showings.  Check with your local theater to learn more about the deals in your area.

Simple Summer Fun

Often, the most joyful memories can be created using little or no money at all.

  • Build a fort.  Grab some clean sheets, blankets, pillows, and kitchen chairs… and Presto!  You have a medieval castle, a cabin in the mountains, or a cave in the forest.
  • Become a chef.  Get out your cookie cutters and a couple of older pots and pans.  Using either store-bought or homemade play dough, let your kids host a pretend cooking show.  (Tip: Search for “homemade play dough recipes” in any online search engine.  Many use common ingredients like salt, flour, and water.)
  • Bounce away!  Kids bouncing off the walls?  Literally?  Channel that energy!  My kids love placing the couch cushions and pillows on the living room floor and jumping from one to another.  Or try creating a mock hopscotch board or an indoor obstacle course.
  • Backyard fun.  If your city doesn’t have drought/water restrictions, let your child run through the sprinkler the next time you’re watering your lawn in the evening.  Ten minutes, a garden hose, and a lawn sprinkler can turn any backyard into a children’s water playground!

Remember, you don’t have to spend big bucks to keep your kids cool and entertained this summer.  You can help your kids avoid cabin-fever without pricey splurges!

Written by: Nichole L. Huff, Ph.D, CFLE

This post originally appeared August 8, 2011 on America Saves http://www.americasaves.org/blog/249-keeping-kids-cool

 

 

 

Adolescent Brains Are Not Fully Developed

When I began teaching about brain development in the late 1990s, we emphasized the importance of young children’s earliest experiences. Based on numerous media reports and highly-publicized efforts (such as Georgia’s initiative to distribute classical music CDs to all babies born in the state), we believed that brain development was more or less complete by the time a child was 3 to 5 years old.

We were right about the importance of the early years, but quite wrong about the timeline for brain development. A large body of research on adolescent brain development clearly indicates that the brain is far from fully developed at age 3 or 5, or even at age 13 or 15.

Think about some of the common challenges of adolescence. Some of the keys to teenagers’ challenging behaviors, such as their lack of impulse control, their tendency to take needless risks, and their less-than-wise decision-making at times, are functions of a brain that is less than completely developed.

The prefrontal cortex, which controls a series of higher-order thinking abilities known as “executive function,” is not fully developed until as late as age 25 to 30. This means that teens still have some difficulty overcoming their immediate emotional responses and using appropriate self-control to make – and act on – wise decisions.

Understanding adolescent brain development and finding ways to help teens develop good decision-making skills are important ways that adults support healthy adolescent brain development. Better Brains for Babies, a Georgia-based collaborative group that educates adults about brain development, will be presenting an introduction to adolescent brain development via webinar on Thursday, July 10 from 2 – 3 pm Eastern. The introduction, entitled “The Ins and Outs of Adolescent Brain Development,” will focus on the development (and under-development) of various parts of the brain, the ways this brain development affects behavior, and ways to support adolescents during this time when their brains are still developing.

To attend the webinar, go to https://sas.elluminate.com/m.jnlp?sid=2013048&miuid=C38EB61AC1DDA72EC03BA5BC836AD210. Pre-registration is not required. Certificates of attendance will be emailed to participants who attend the entire session live, and who complete a request for certificate within 24 hours. A recording of the webinar will also be available a few days afterward for those who could not attend the webinar live.

If you have questions about the webinar, please send them to info@bbbgeorgia.org. To learn more about the Better Brains for Babies initiative in Georgia, go to www.bbbgeorgia.org.

 

Diane Bales

Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, The University of Georgia

Co-Leader, eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care

Co-Leader, Better Brains for Babies