Thursday, November 26, 2009

Shopping safely with children during the holiday season

Like most parents I fear losing my children in a crowded store when we're out shopping. That coupled with my less than stellar patience with crowded environments means that you won't find me in any stores on Black Friday! But with a little advanced planning your shopping trip can go smoothly.

Don’t take younger children shopping when it is close to nap times or during a time of day that they usually have a lot of energy. Those times of day can mean cranky, energetic or less-than-politely behaved children. If your child typically likes to run or hide from you, realize that they are going to do that in a crowded store as well and look around at areas that you think they’re like to hide in.

Do you need to shop at a busy time of day? Do you need to take your children to the early morning Black Friday price-slashing sale? Can you shop at a different time?

Talk to your child beforehand. Explain to them that the store may be crowded, there may be a lot of fun things to look at, but that they must stay with you so that they don’t get lost. Many young children don’t want to lose their parent in the store and will understand.

If your child is young enough to use a stroller, use it. Make sure the safety strap is securely buckled. For preschoolers and younger elementary aged children hold hands. For older children designate a meeting place in each store or mall where everyone is to meet if you get separated.

Place a card with your name and cell phone number in your child’s pocket. If you are separated store employees or security guards will be able to contact you. There is also a mom-owned business,, that makes standard & write on temporary tattoos that can have your contact information on them.

If you do lose your child:

* Start looking immediately. Call your child’s name loudly. Hopefully they will hear you and come running, hopefully it will also alert the store staff that your child is missing.

* Make contact with the store or mall staff. Many locations have a ‘code Adam’ system that has staff monitoring all exits so no one can leave with your child. If more than a few minutes go by contact your local police department.

For many of us hiring a sitter so that we can shop is not always an option. None of us want to think that we could lose our child in a crowded store. But planning ahead and knowing what to do can help prevent a lost child or make finding your child a lot easier.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Help out your local Food Pantry this winter

A few years ago my daughter's Girl Scout Troop was working on a food and nutrition badge. As we discussed some of the badge requirements in the Troop meeting we got to discussing who does not have access to good, healthy foods. Not surprisingly the girls first started listing off several impoverished nations. So they were surprised to find out that many people locally do not have access to fresh healthy food because it is usually more expensive. This led to a great service project that year with a local food pantry.

This year our Troop is again doing a Food Drive. Our last collection day is Wednesday 11/18 as we're delivering our donations the following day. If you're in Newington, NH feel free to drop any non-expired food or household item (detergent, soap, personal care items) off at the Newington Town Hall. We will be visiting the Seacoast Family Food Pantry with our donations.

The need for food is greater this year than ever. So many families are struggling to make ends meet. Sometimes the only area of flexibility in frugal budgets is to reduce how much is spent at the grocery store. Using coupons and watching sale flyers are great ways to reduce how much we spend, but we can't always provide a healthy diet with vegetables and fruits by relying on coupons and sales alone. This year there are more and more families relying on Food Pantries, some may even be your neighbors. These are not families just looking for a handout, they're regular folks who are struggling and want to make sure they're taking care of their families.

Many food pantries also collect more than just food. Household items, cleaners, personal care items, and laundry detergent are all welcome donations. The big thing to watch for is to make sure none of the donated items have expired. Several food pantries have refrigerators and freezers and can accept perishable and frozen foods, although you should check before dropping these items off.

The need is year round, but the holidays are a busy time that you can help out with. So many businesses and organizations are holding food drives. If you're able to help out pick up one or two extra things when you shop this week and drop it off at a food drive.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A new way to teach relief of choking

In most of my CPR courses I'm asked how effective the Heimlich maneuver is. We can practice where to place our hands, but this is not a skill that can be practiced on someone who is not choking and is not easy to practice on a CPR mannequin.

But today I found this really neat product and video.

This would be an easy and effective way to teach proper hand positioning and technique. Unfortunately for me it is a bit cost prohibitive. But I wanted to share the video as it is a good training aid just to see how effective proper hand placement and technique are to successfully relieve choking.

You can read more about this product at

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Germs, germs go away....

After my last post on hand washing vs. hand sanitizer I received a great question about other ways to prevent the spread of germs in public places.

It would be impossible to prevent all germs from being spread around. But there are a few precautions we can take to limit germ sharing.

When my two school aged daughters were younger their classroom teachers did a fun project with them every year. The kids got to grow germs. They went around the school like little scientists and swabbed different things and parts of the building. Where do you think they grew the most germs from? Not the restroom.... from door handles, light switches, telephone handsets and computer keyboards. Places we don't often thinking of cleaning.

Most commercially available disinfectant sprays and wipes can take care of limiting germs on these surfaces. A quick spray or wipe can help kill germs and bacteria and prevent their further spread. If you work in a public place or large office and/or share workstations think about having disinfectant spray or wipes on hand. It only takes a moment or two to quickly wipe or spray a computer mouse or fax machine to reduce germ sharing. The person you might be protecting from those extra germs might just be yourself.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Hand soap vs. hand sanitizer

Last week in two of my classes we had a big discussion on hand washing vs. using hand sanitizer. There was a story on Good Morning America about this which I went searching for this weekend. Both classes the participants insisted hand sanitizer was the best way to go, but some parents are concerned about accidental (or otherwise) ingestion of hand sanitizer by their kids. So what method is the best way to prevent the spread of germs? The study recommended good hand washing.

Good hand washing techniques wash germs away. It doesn't kill germs, just washes them down the drain. It really doesn't matter if you use regular soap or antibacterial soap. The study done at the University of Maryland demonstrated that use of antibacterial soap did not do a significantly better job than just hand soap. What made the difference with hand washing was the technique used. Wash for at least 20 seconds or more. Statistically they found that most people just do a quick rinse. It is the good rinsing with hot water that help wash the germs away.

There are also concerns that too many antibacterial products will lead to germs becoming more resistant or that we'll rely to heavily on antibacterial products instead of using good hand washing techniques.

Hand Sanitizers do the job of killing germs when you are unable to get to soap and water to wash your hands. To have any real effect the sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol. The 2 bottles I check at home this weekend at 63% & 64% alcohol. One area from the study I do disagree with it one of the last statements. GMA wrote that experts commented that most kids won't eat or lick hand sanitizers because they don't taste good. We had a large discussion on this in one of my classes last week because of all of the lovely fruit scented hand sanitizers that can be found in stores. One of the parents had a pomegranate scented hand sanitizer and actually took a lick of her finger after using it. She confirmed that indeed, it tasted like pomegranate. So for parents I'd recommend NOT purchasing scented hand sanitizer.

You can read the full GMA Article here.

So what's the best option? If you don't think you'll do a good job with hand washing (or don't think your kids will) hand sanitizer is probably a good alternative. At home and school good hand washing techniques with soap and water are the best way to wash grime and germs off your hands.