a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)

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Week: 577.7

Guest: Ron Hazelton, Good Morning America, Home & Garden TV

Topic: Home and Garden summer safety 2

Host/ Producer: Steve Girard

NEMA: We've been talking with Ron Hazelton, the home improvement editor with ABC's Good Morning America about making sure safety is part of all our summer activities in and around the house. We've talked about lawn mowers, power tools, cookouts and pool safety in our first program...so if you're interested in those topics...either ask your local station if The Heart of the Matter runs at other times, or head to our website: www.nemahealth.org

...for a look at the transcript of our first program with Ron....we were talking about keeping a childproof fence around the pool...constant supervision, and having flotation devices handy...

HAZELTON: But I think one of the most interesting things that I've seen, and possibly the most important when it comes to saving your own child's life in water, is to check for a swimming instructor or a swimming school in your neighborhood that offers sort of and I hate to use this term, but drown proofing classes because this really doesn't drown proof your child but gives them some basic techniques on what to do should they fall into a pool unexpectedly. This kind of training enables them to float. It teaches them how to work their way to the edge of a pool and how to move hand over hand along the edge of the pool until they come to a place where they can climb out. And it's amazing how young, and I'm talking kids that are 2 and 3 years old, how young children can learn to protect their own lives. And sometimes what their gaining is just enough extra time so that they can yell, they can be heard, you can get there to help them. NEMA: During Spring into Summer, we get into all kinds of outdoor projects ... painting the window woodwork, refinishing some favorite furniture... maybe even repainting the house. I know in some cases, the materials we use can cause us problems...

RON: Well yeah let's talk about the stripping first then chemicals then I want to come back to the painting, the painting subject. Chemical strippers are wonderful. They save you a tremendous amount of work but the active ingredient that really makes them work is methalene chloride which can be a health hazard. So it vaporizes you can breathe these fumes in. So my suggestion is if you're going to strip furniture it's best to do it outside or in a garage where you can get some good cross ventilation going. Most of the respirators that you can wear don't really do that good a job with filtering out methylene chloride. So the best thing is to have plenty of fresh air around and not be breathing it in the first place. And of course you want to protect your hands with rubber gloves that are designed for stripping. Strippers tend to dissolve the kind of rubber glove you might use say for dishwashing. So you can though in most paint departments buy rubber gloves that say stripping gloves and they will hold up to that chemical. The painting that we'll probably be doing for the next few months...a lot of it will be outside, and that often involves the use of a ladder, particularly an extension ladder. So a couple things to keep in mind here is to make certain, of course, that the base of the ladder is on real solid footing and it's generally not a good idea to stack up small pieces of wood in order to level a ladder out. It's better to dig out the ground and get the both of the ends of the ladder down on solid footing. And than it's important that the ladder be at the correct pitch. I don't know if I can describe this to you successfully over the air or not, I can show you this on TV easily enough, but here's what you do. You lay the ladder up against the side of the house, make sure its got a good solid surface to rest on at the top, the bottom is secure. Stand with both of your feet, your toes touching the base of the ladder, stand upright and stretch your arms out straight. If the ladder is at the right angle your hands should come to rest right on one of the rungs. If you find that your elbows are bent, then the angle of the ladder is too severe. If you can't reach that rung, it means that the angle is too flat. So this will keep the ladder from being put under too much strain or from falling backward if you have it at the correct angle. Once you're up there or start up the ladder always keep one hand in contact with the ladder as you're climbing, so that if you should lose your footing, you've got a grip, and you can save yourself from falling by using your hand. And once you're aloft, be careful not to over reach. A good rule here is to keep your hips between the rails of the ladder. Those are the two upright pieces that the rungs go between. So don't reach so far that your hips would move outside those two rails either the left or right. What could happen if you do over reach of course is the ladder could slide to the side and than that could result in a fall.

NEMA: Those same mistakes that you mentioned have been identified over and over again in our research as the big reasons for falls...not having enough respect for the danger of being on a ladder, and being killed or seriously hurt...

RON: And you don't have to fall a long way, as you know Steve, to have a serious injury. A hip or back fracture or skull. So it's best just not taking any chances.

NEMA: Right. Now we talked during the first show about taking care when mowing and maintaining the mower...what about the chemicals we use on the lawn...?

RON: Well we'll go back to the lawn and gardening work again. I mean this is the time when we have a lot of lawn chemicals, fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides and that sort of thing out. These are a particular hazard to children. I can't tell you into how many garages I've gone and seen these just either in some cases sitting on the garage floor or on a shelf within easy reach for children. So, what I suggest here is that these be stored in a cabinet, well out of reach of children, behind a door... and the door be locked with some kind of a padlock or hasp because you don't want kids getting their hands on them unexpectedly. So store those chemicals well out of reach of children. In a cabinet high up so they can't get to them. That cabinet should have a door on it and preferably a hasp or a lock. And this could include anything, solvents, anything that could be dangerous to a child. Never put chemicals, dangerous chemicals in any kind of container other than the one in which they came. You may say, "well why"? Because most containers that have dangerous chemicals in them have antidote information on them. Also, you want to know what that child took. If it's some strange substance in a glass jar or can unmarked you have no idea what they've ingested. So store them in the cans in which they came.

NEMA: Another area where injury can be prevented is the play area...

RON: We all like the idea of creating play areas in our backyard for our children, swing sets, play sets of various types. What's important here is to create a surface, cause kids are gonna fall - I don't care what you do. They're going to be climbing, they're going to be swinging, they will fall and what's important here is to create a surface so that it will absorb that fall and prevent serious injury. Believe it or not grass is very hard. Soil after a couple of years gets very compacted and just to prove this point, one time I took a watermelon and I just held it at about chest height and I dropped it onto what looked like very soft grass and the watermelon split immediately. Then we walked over to an area that had been prepared for children to play on and what we'd done is taken out about four or six inches of soil and replaced it with pea gravel, which is a small round rock... dropped the same watermelon on that and it survived intact. So when children fall on that substance it does cushion that fall and prevent serious injuries particularly head injuries. You can use sand although the problem here is it can become a neighborhood litter box for cats. You can use bark but it tends to compact over time. So I found the best material really in terms of preventing child injuries from falls is this pea gravel.

NEMA: What about the playsets themselves...any recommendations on wood versus plastic...or how to keep them safe over time...?

RON: ...play sets for your child if you're going to be buying a new one. Couple things you want to look for if you are going to go for a wood play set make sure the wood does not have sharp edges on it, it doesn't splinter easily. Ideally I'd like to see all the bolts countersunk so that they don't protrude. And take a, especially this time of year, if it's an older set, one that's been around for awhile, take a hammer and a wrench and go over that play set and drive all the nails that have kind of popped up down below the surface and tighten any loose bolts. And if you do find a surface that is rough, sand it down before the children start to play on it. If you're going to be buying a slide for your child, I think I would prefer a fiberglass or plastic over metal they don't get as hot. And be sure the slide is shaped so that it sort of flattens out at the bottom...it gives them a chance to sort of slow down before it ends. I don't like to see climbing platforms for most young children under nine or ten years of age much higher then about 6 feet off the ground. And you want to check if the, you want to check the spacing between the ballisters, those vertical por, those vertical sort of post on the railings. You want to make sure that they are spaced closely enough so that a child cannot get their head thru them.

NEMA: I know there have been accidents where kids have gotten their heads stuck in the posts, and were killed or seriously hurt when they fell off the platforms. So, that's a really important point many people wouldn't think about. Our thanks to Ron Hazelton, the home improvement editor at ABC's Good Morning America and the host of "The House Doctor" on Home & Garden TV. His special on home and garden safety will be on HGTV Saturday, June 28th, at 5 p.m. Be sure to catch it. We're much more active during the warm months, and that means more chances for injury...unless we know the kinds of mistakes we make and the ways to avoid them. Add a healthy dose of caution and preparation to your jobs and hobbies...and they'll become productive and safe.

SPOT: Small pages....big advice on parenting...from infants to teens. What to expect, emotionally and physically, as your child grows. How to develop positive discipline,how to deal with kids and TV, adolescent issues, drug education, fighting, single and step parenting...it's all in the 'Little Book of Parenting, available through the National Emergency Medicine Association. Call 1-800-332-6362 for more information.

NEMA: Thanks for joining us for today's program. If you have any comments or suggestions, contact this station. Or visit our home page at: www.nemahealth.com/ ...for a look at transcripts of this or past programs, or to find out more about the National Emergency Medicine Association. I'm Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.



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