Archive for M. Elaine Pahilan, MPH

Children in halloween costumes

Taking the Fright Out of Halloween Night

Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween, but not when it comes to child safety. There are several easy and effective behaviors that parents can share with kids to help reduce their risk of injury.

On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

Top Tips

  • When selecting a costume, make sure it is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
  • Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Since masks can sometimes obstruct a child’s vision, try non-toxic face paint and makeup whenever possible.
  • Have kids use glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
  • Children under the age of 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
  • Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Guardians should remind children to be mindful of cars backing up or turning. Children should be taught to make eye contact with drivers when crossing the street.
  • Look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross.
  • Put electronic devices down and keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street.
  • Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
  • Always walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
  • Watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
  • Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars
  • Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 to 9:30 pm so be especially alert for kids during those hours.

Where to Find Visibility Gear

  • Places like Target and Walmart carry glow sticks.
  • Sporting goods stores sell retroreflective gear.
  • You can find retroreflective tape and wristbands online at Amazon and other sites.

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Is Your Child in the Right Car Seat?

National Car Seat Saturday is this weekend on September 21, 2013. Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children 1 to 13 years old. Many times deaths and injuries can be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts. Unfortunately, 73 percent of car seats are not used or installed correctly. Come join your local Child Passenger Seat Technicians and have your little one’s car seat checked at Caddo Sheriff’s Safety Town, 8910 Jewella Avenue from 9:00 – 12:00.

If you are unable to attend the event here are some car seat guidelines.


birthBirth – 12 months birthICON
Your child under age 1 should always ride in a rear-facing car seat. There are different types of rear-facing car seats: Infant-only seats can only be used rear-facing. Convertible and 3-in-1 car seats typically have higher height and weight limits for the rear-facing position, allowing you to keep your child rear-facing for a longer period of time.


1-3years1 – 3 years 1-3yearsICON
Keep your child rear-facing as long as possible. It’s the best way to keep him or her safe. Your child should remain in a rear-facing car seat until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat, your child is ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness.


4-74 – 7 years 4-7ICON
Keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat’s manufacturer. Once your child outgrows the forward-facing car seat with a harness, it’s time to travel in a booster seat, but still in the back seat.


8-128 – 12 years 8-12ICON
Keep your child in a booster seat until he or she is big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly the lap belt must lie snugly across the upper thighs, not the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest and not cross the neck or face. Remember: your child should still ride in the back seat because it’s safer there.


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tv tipover

Preventing Child Injuries From Falling Televisions

A new study in the August issue of Pediatrics shows that thousands of children are sent to emergency rooms each year due to television tip-overs.  On average of 17,313 children receive emergency treatment for TV-related injuries annually in the United States. In 2011, falling television resulted in 12,300 injuries in children under the age of 18. This number is up 126% from the 5,455 injuries reported in 1990. Dr. Gary Smith, the lead author for this study, says, “A child is killed once every three weeks in this country.” Children five and younger are at the highest risk for injury, with head and neck injuries the most prevalent.

In order to protect small children from injury, the following prevention tips should be followed.

Check TVs

  • Assess the stability of the TVs in your home.

Secure TVs

  • Mount flat screen TVs to the wall to reduce the risk of TVs toppling off stands. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you protect your wall and have a secure fit.
  • If you have a large, heavy, old-style cathode ray tube (CRT) TV place it on a low, stable piece of furniture.

Secure Furniture

  • Use brackets, braces or wall straps to secure unstable or top-heavy furniture to the wall.
  • Install stops on dresser drawers to prevent them from being pulled all the way out. Multiple open drawers can cause the weight to shift, making it easier for a dresser to fall.

Rearrange Household Items

  • Keep heavier items on lower shelves or in lower drawers.
  • Avoid placing remote controls, food, toys or other items in places where kids might be tempted to climb up or reach for them.

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Avoid a Trip to the ER This Independence Day

Between June 22 and July 22 last year, more than 5,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms due to fireworks-related injuries, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

We often see injuries around the 4th of July at LSU Medical Center too—both in kids and adults. Most cases are minor injuries to the fingers and hands but some involve more serious burns.

Here are some helpful tips to enjoy fireworks in the safest manner possible.

Leave Fireworks to the Professionals

  • The best way to protect your family is to not use any fireworks at home. Instead, attend public fireworks displays and leave the lighting to the professionals.
  • If you plan to use fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area and that no burn bans are in effect.

Be Extra Careful With Sparklers

  • Little arms are too short to hold sparklers, which can heat up to 1,200 degrees. How about this? Let your young children use glow sticks instead. They can be just as fun but they don’t burn at a temperature hot enough to melt glass.
  • Closely supervise children around fireworks at all times.

Take Necessary Precautions

  • Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass.
  • Point fireworks away from homes, and keep away from brush, leaves and flammable substances

Know What You Are Purchasing

  • Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper because this is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and that they could pose a danger to consumers.

Be Prepared for an Accident or Injury

  • Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it.
  • Always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly.
  • If a child is injured by fireworks, immediately go to a doctor or hospital. If an eye injury occurs, don’t allow your child to touch or rub it, as this may cause even more damage.