Seat belts save lives—if used, and correctly
Although seat belts can be big lifesavers and a major way to protect passengers from injury, they don’t work if they’re not used—and correctly—especially with children. More than 4 in 10 youngsters killed in vehicular crashes between 2010 and 2014 were improperly restrained, particularly in vehicles’ front seat, or they weren’t buckled in at all, researchers found after studying National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.
They said kids’ road deaths varied by state. Slightly more than half of the 18,000 crash deaths of victims younger than 15 occurred in the South, says the study in the Journal of Pediatrics. Its data show that kids in Dixie died more often on rural and state roads, especially where speed limits were lax, as compared with city streets or interstate highways.
Although safety officials have said Americans are using restraint systems at higher rates in recent years than they have at any time in almost a quarter century, their misuse was lethal to youngsters. Besides not being buckled up or improperly so, some were in safety seats of the wrong type or were incorrectly restrained with them.
The researchers said they hope to prod states to redouble efforts to get drivers to buckle youngsters up—and in the right ways, with potentially huge reductions in kids’ crash deaths. The issue is timely and of growing importance because road deaths across the United States are suddenly rising again, due to causes such as distractions from devices, and abuse of drugs and alcohol.
In my practice, I see the harms that auto, truck, and motorcycle crashes can cause, and I know all of us would do almost anything to avoid the sorrow of a collision resulting in a child’s death. Sure, with the hectic lives that so many of us lead these days, it can be a nuisance to get the kids in and out of the car for school and their many activities. But, especially as millions of us take our families on vacation road trips, please take the time to save their lives and prevent their injury with the proper use of seat belts. And by the way, the safety researchers noted that a sad percentage of child collision deaths occurred when the drivers were under the influence. Don’t drive while intoxicated with your most precious cargo, please.
Uncle Sam may bar Big Tobacco from peddling its deadly wares to young people. But teachers and parents may want to check in more closely with teen-agers about pervasive, apparently highly effective ads targeting youths for nonburning or e-cigarettes and the practice of “vaping.”
Vaping ads, new research shows, can be powerfully persuasive to teens, including by leading them to cigarette smoking, because the pitches are frequent and they show young people in ways they crave: Characters in the ads are attractive, having fun, are independent, and socially popular and accepted, the researchers found by exposing almost 11,000 youths to various tobacco and e-cigarette ads.
Adolescents not only are highly susceptible to vaping ads, they also recall them more than other commercial messages they’re inundated with, online, through social media, on the airwaves, and by other means, says the newly published study.
Its authors urge anti-smoking advocates to better understand why teens are so receptive to vaping hype, because this openness to it, other research has found, is the gateway to their taking up killer cigarettes, as well as cigars, pipes, and hookahs.
It is beyond scientific question that cigarette smoking causes cancers and contributes to heart disease. It’s a nasty, costly habit that can be hard to quit and is better avoided. We need to do all we can to keep kids from getting hooked, including asking health officials why they aren’t closing faster Big Tobacco’s vaping loophole to try to harm our kids.
Here’s a swimming pool, water park hygiene alert
Call it a seasonal variant of keeping sniffling youngsters at home during the school year. But parents can do their kids and us all a favor during warm weather by enforcing water hygiene. It’s an icky topic but public health officials have detected a doubling of outbreaks of the parasitic infection Cryptosporidium (also known as “Crypto”) linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds.
There were 32 of them last year in places like Arizona, Alabama, and Ohio, as compared with 16 in 2014. They sickened hundreds of swimmers and visitors to water parks, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
As the CDC notes:
Crypto is the most common cause of diarrheal illness and outbreaks linked to swimming pools or water playgrounds because it is not easily killed by chlorine and can survive up to 10 days in properly treated water. Swallowing just a mouthful of water contaminated with Crypto can make otherwise healthy people sick for up to three weeks with watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, or vomiting, and can lead to dehydration.
If your kids have diarrhea, keep them out of the water for at least two weeks, the CDC says. It also offers this common-sense counsel: Avoid gulping down pool water, shower before and after you’re in the water, and ensure youngsters take frequent bathroom breaks. Parents should not change diapers near the pool nor allow babies in the water until they’re potty-trained.
Public facilities can do their part by testing their waters frequently, and, if necessary, hyper chlorinating pools to kill crypto.
By the way, moms and dads: Although experts have found it isn’t, thankfully, as common as many might suspect, it also might be worth reinforcing with the kids that it’s a bad idea, prank or otherwise, to relieve oneself in the pool.