Summer Heat – Never Leave Kids Unattended in a Car

While a parent might think, “It will never happen to my child,” sadly about 45 kids die every year from being left in hot cars.  The majority of these cases are due to a parent forgetting the child is in the car or the child playing in the car unbeknownst to the caregiver.  As the summer months are upon us, it’s even more important to remember to never leave a child unattended in a car, even for a moment.The General Motors Foundation, a longtime partner of Safe Kids,  has teamed up for the Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car program.

Through the Safe Kids USA network of 600 coalitions and chapters, the “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car” program will unite and mobilize police and fire, hospitals, government agencies, child care centers, businesses and others to share with parents and other caregivers prevention messages to address the dangers to children in vehicles.

The program will include an advertising campaign of billboards, print ads, web banners and radio announcements as well as tip sheets. The materials will be available in both English and Spanish.

Here’s what parents and caregivers need to know and why:

  • Lock cars and trucks. Thirty percent of the recorded heat stroke deaths in the U.S. occur because a child was playing in an unattended vehicle. These deaths can be prevented by simply locking the vehicle doors to help assure that kids don’t enter the vehicles and become trapped.
  • Create reminders. Many child heat stroke deaths occur because parents and caregivers become distracted and exit their vehicle without their child. To help prevent these tragedies parents can:
  • Place a cell phone, PDA, purse, briefcase, gym bag or something that is needed at your next stop on the floor in front of a child in a backseat. This will help you see your child when you open the rear door and reach for your belongings.
  • Set the alarm on your cell phone/smartphone as a reminder to you to drop your child off at day care.
  • Set your computer calendar program to ask, “Did you drop off at daycare today?” Establish a plan with your daycare that if your child fails to arrive within an agreed upon time that you will be called within a few minutes. Be especially mindful of your child if you change your routine for daycare.
  • Dial 911 immediately if you see an unattended child in a car. EMS professionals are trained to determine if a child is in trouble. The body temperature of children rises 3 – 5 times faster than adults, and as a result, children are much more vulnerable to heat stroke. Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child is missing.

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The Invisible Face of Intellectual Disabilities

OK, this isn’t meant to be a pity party blog post.  This is just to share what it’s like, at least for me, to be the mother of a child with intellectual disabilities.

Spencer turned 13 last month, a big step for any kid.  But for a kid with intellectual disabilities it raises even greater issues.  You see Spencer is handsome, tall and strong.  By outward appearances, no one would ever know anything’s wrong.  And, because he is now a teenager, people expect him to behave in a certain way.  They don’t realize that intellectually he’s really the equivalent of a 6 year-old and that he doesn’t always understand socially acceptable behavior.  If this is hard for adults to realize it’s impossible for kids to realize.  All kids, that is, except his sister who really is 8 but has the maturity of a 15 year-old at times. 

She is fully aware that her brother has disabilities.  She might not understand completely what that means but what she does understand is that Spencer behaves in ways he shouldn’t and kids constantly call him weird or make fun of him behind his back – sometimes right to his face.  This upsets her and now she too is always on guard trying to protect her brother while also dealing with the feelings of embarrassment he causes her around her friends.  I’ve tried to explain to her that unfortunately people don’t always understand her brother has a disability.  If he had some physical disability it would be easier for them to deal with but this is an invisible affliction and people just don’t get it.

As I’ve written before, because his school is 50 miles away, he doesn’t really have friends in town.  So, when we are out at social functions Spencer is on his own.  I know he’s lonely.  I know he wants to be included but he’s just not.  Last night we were at our town’s 4th of July celebration.  As my fiancée said, it was like a giant block party.  I saw so many old acquaintances whose sons used to be Spencer’s friends from various activities.  That’s when the differences are so striking.  Here are these young men, independently and securely mingling, laughing and socializing.  They have far surpassed Spencer long ago.  We saw his one friend from when he was in kindergarten who is still so wonderful and friendly to Spencer – I will forever be grateful that Spencer found such a kind soul who is able to see Spencer for who he truly is, an equally kind kid.

But social situations like this are never easy for me.  I need to constantly be on guard as to where Spencer might wander to or how he might inadvertently get into a fight with another kid who was taunting him.  Spencer’s wonderful with little kids who seem to gravitate towards him. And, when adults take the time to sit and listen to him, he can be charming.  My friends are wonderful – they accept Spencer and try to put me at ease.  But it’s difficult for them to understand when their kids are running around playing and I’m torn between monitoring Spencer and wanting to spend my time with him since, at these events, I’m all he has.

Some people might advise me to just not put myself into these situations and not go to events that, because of the noise and commotion are particularly stressful for Spencer.  But, I have two other children to consider and (gosh darn it!) Spencer wants to see fireworks!  But I look around the crowd of hundreds that are seated with me on the field and think, “where are the other kids like Spencer?”  Where are one or two kids who could be his friends and understand his issues?  Yes, there are probably some parents who would rather avoid the stress of an evening such as this but there has to be a way to make it fun, safe and secure for our kids!

I’m out of ideas. For my friends from last night who supported me, thank you – I’m forever grateful for your friendship and kindness to my son.  For other parents struggling with my issues, what are your solutions?  I’m open to any and all suggestions!


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Tips For A Safe 4th of July

It’s still a few days before the 4th of July but my entire family is already getting excited about the holiday!  We live in a typical small town that has a 5K Run in the morning followed by a town barbeque, live music and of course fireworks.  Unfortunately two of my children are still small enough that the fireworks scare them but my 10-year old can’t wait!  Last year he was at a friend’s home and came close to getting burned by a sparkler so I wanted to share some safety tips to help ensure everyone has a fun and safe holiday!

Fireworks safety:

  •  Don’t allow any child under 12 years of age to handle sparklers or fireworks
  • Establish a “do not cross” line to keep kids away from the area you are lighting fireworks
  • Make sure to keep a fire extinguisher and a bucket of water nearby along with a cordless phone
  • Dont’ try to relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then immerse in water

Barbeque safety:

  • Keep the area around the barbeque free of any objects that a child can trip over
  • Don’t leave sharp knives or other utensils hanging from the grill
  • Never leave a lit grill unattended
  • As soon as you’re done, shut the propane tank and replace the cover

Party safety:

  •  If you’re serving drinks such as margaritas or other mixed drinks be sure that you constantly scan the area for half-filled drinks which kids could mistake for punch
  • Establish with your partner who is in charge of watching the kids at any time and be sure that person is not drinking
  • If your children will be on riding toys, including skateboards and Razr Scooters, bring along the proper safety gear
  • If you are visiting a friend’s home with a pool be extra vigilant in watching your children

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Parents need to be responsible for their child’s gaming habits not the government

Yesterday California rejected a proposed ban on the sale of violent video games to kids.  I can’t believe that this was even up for a vote. 

Here’s the reality – it’s a parent’s job to be sure that what their children are viewing and/or doing is appropriate.  Do we really need the government to monitor our parental abilities?  Well, in certain cases that seems to be the case – which gets me back to my argument that adults should be required to test and apply for a license before they are allowed to become parents.

Some parents might argue that they are clueless as to which games are overly violent.  That’s why there’s a great site, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) –  Parents can type in the name of a game and find out its rating and the content.  There is no excuse for parents not to be monitoring their child’s games!  But, that requires parents to be involved and not pass their responsibility onto a third person or the government.

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We’ve seen the “bad” of social media this week – here’s the good!

We’ve all read the disgusting story about Anthony Weiner and how social media can be used in a bad way but I was fortunate to receive a Tweet this morning from one of my followers that shows how social media can pass along uplifting and heroic messages.

The  Tweet read “Alice is 15 & has terminal cancer. One of her wishes is to trend on Twitter. #AliceBucketList  Please RT .”

Needless to say it caught my attention.  I’ll admit that sometimes I’m skeptical about these things and wonder if they’re legitimate but after reading this little girl’s blog there’s no way I can’t write about it.

Alice is indeed dying of cancer.  She’s writing a blog to document the time she has left with her friends and family.  She has also created a “bucket list” and that’s where it hit home for me personally.  One of Alice’s wishes is to swim with sharks.  Why did this one particular entry get to me?  Because my beautiful, healthy, wonderful eight year-old daughter is obsessed with sharks and would also love to do this.  And, hopefully, my daughter will have that chance someday whereas, most likely, Alice won’t.

My life has been stressful, chaotic and, at times, quite traumatic.   I’ve lost one child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which has profoundly affected my life.  But to contemplate my daughter dying of cancer is unthinkable and makes me grateful for the amazing gifts – my children and stepchildren – that I have.

Alice does indeed want to “trend” on Twitter.  You can follow her @Alice_Pyne .  You can also follow her blog at .  She also talks about the importance of bone marrow donation, something everyone should be aware of.

The petty annoyances I woke up with this morning really seem so trivial now.  Thank you Alice!

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AAA Analysis Finds Seven of Top 10 Deadliest Days for Teens Occur During Summer

Auto club reminds parents that summer vacation should not be a ‘vacation from safety’

WASHINGTON, D.C., (June 6, 2011) – With deadly traffic crashes peaking for teens during the summer months of June, July and August, AAA urges parents of teens to increase their focus on safety during the school-free months ahead. Summer is the deadliest time of year for teen drivers and passengers with seven of the top 10 deadliest days of the year occurring between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays, according to an analysis of crash data completed by AAA.

“Parents should not underestimate the critical role they play in keeping their teens safe, especially during these high-risk months,” said AAA Vice President of Public Affairs Kathleen Marvaso. “Life feels more care-free when school’s out and teens have more opportunities to drive or ride in cars late at night with other teens – a deadly mix. With the majority of the most dangerous days falling during the traditional summer vacation months, parents must realize that there is no summer break from safety and be vigilant about remaining involved and enforcing rules with their teens.”

According to AAA, over 7,300 teen drivers and passengers ages 13-19 died in traffic crashes between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays during the five-year period of 2005-2009. An average of 422 teens die in traffic crashes during each of the deadly summer months as compared to a monthly average of 363 teen deaths during the non-summer months. 

Many states have restrictions on passengers and on night driving for teens under Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws. A recent poll by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows a clear majority, seven out of 10 Americans, favor stricter enforcement of driving laws. But regardless of the law, parents play a critical role in keeping teens safe

“To keep teens safe during these dangerous months and year round, parents should go beyond compliance of state laws and make teens abide by rules of the house,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger. 

AAA suggests the following tips for parents to keep teen drivers safe:

Restrict driving and eliminate trips without purpose –Teens have three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers, based on amount of miles driven, and a teen’s crash risk is highest during the first year of solo driving. Parents should limit teens’ driving to essential trips and only with parental permission for at least the first year of driving.

Become an effective driving coach – The best way for new teen drivers to gain experience is through parent-supervised practice driving, where parents can share their wisdom accumulated over many years of driving. Even after a teen has a license that allows solo driving, parents and teens should continue to practice driving together to help the teen manage increasingly more complex and challenging driving conditions. AAA’s Teaching Your Teens to Drive coaching program is a great tool to help parents become effective driving coaches for their teens and is available at 800-327-3444.

Limit the number of teen passengers and time as a passenger – Teen crash rates increase with each teen passenger in the vehicle. Fatal crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase fivefold when two or more teen passengers are present versus when teens drive alone. Also, riding in a vehicle with a teen driver can be risky for teen passengers. Crash risk begins to increase at the age of 12, well before a teen can obtain a driver’s permit or license – and before many parents start to think about their children being at risk riding as a passenger of a teen driver. Parents should set firm rules against driving with teen passengers and restrict their teens from riding as a passenger with a teen driver.

Restrict night driving – A teen driver’s chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles when driving at night. Many parents rightly limit driving during the highest-risk late night hours, yet they should limit evening driving as well, as more than half of nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. AAA recommends that newly-licensed teens not drive after 9 or 10 p.m. unless accompanied by a responsible adult.

Establish a parent-teen driving agreement – Many parents and teens find written agreements help set and enforce clear rules about night driving, passengers, access to the car, and more. AAA offers a parent-teen driving agreement on its teen driver safety website, The comprehensive website offers a variety of additional tools and resources for parents and teens as they progress through the learning-to-drive process, to include AAA StartSmart, a free online resource based on a research-tested program for families developed by the National Institutes of Health.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at

AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at


The above AAA news release has been reprint with the permission of AAA.



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Girl’s Beauty Night Out Event in Fairfield County, CT

Look and feel beautiful on the inside and out! The Safety Mom & Dermage Spa want all Fairfield County, CT women to glow this summer!

And, to help you do this we are holding an amazing event on June 1st from 5:00 – 10:00pm

I’ll be signing copies of my new book, “Honey I Lost the Baby in the Produce Aisle!: The Safety Mom’s Guide to Childproofing Your Life”

Clinical Nutritionist, Loryn Galardi, M.S. will be on hand to help you begin to EAT YOURSELF HEALTHY: Eating to Reduce Aging and Disease.  What do allergies, weight gain, heart disease, depression, diabetes and even premature aging have in common?  INFLAMMATION.  The foods we eat every day affect the inflammation in our bodies in complex and unpredictable ways.  Learn simple ways you can prevent and even reverse the damage caused by inflammatory foods.  

We’ll also be discussing the importance of getting environmental toxins out of your home and some much safer alternatives.

And, it’s just as important to feel healthy and beautiful on the outside.  Get some tips on keeping your skin glowing and youthful all summer and beyond.  Learn the benefits of Botox.  If you’ve ever thought about it now’s the time to learn more!

Come by to learn more and enjoy some wine and hors d’oeuvres

Please RSVP to Stephanie and then come by anytime between 5P and 10P.  To schedule a botox treatment, please call Dermage Spa directly.

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