Protect your kids from electrical shocks


child playing with electrical outlet

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) says that every year, about 2,400 children suffer severe shock and burns when they stick keys, pens, paperclips and other small items into electrical outlets, Many parents put covers or caps on the outlets, but studies show this is not a particularly effective deterrent to little fingers – a study by Temple University found that 100% of all 2-4 year olds were able to remove one type of plastic outlet cap within 10 seconds.

There’s a better solution called tamper resistant receptacles, or TRRs, that offer a simple, affordable, reliable and permanent solution to help protect kids. They look just like ordinary outlets but are equipped with spring-loaded receptacle cover plates to close off the opening slots. Since 2008, the National Electrical Code has required them to be installed in all new home construction – but many older homes do not have them. If you have children, you may want to consider converting to them – but TRRs should only be installed license electricians.

Tips to protect yourself, your kids and your pets from lawn mower injuries


man mowing a lawn

Lawn mowers are powerful machines, with the power to injure and maim. While many adults suffer serious injuries, children are at particularly high risk. Every year, lawn mower injuries send 13,000 children to the emergency department, with more than more than 8% of all injuries being serious enough to require hospital admission. More than half of hospitalizations result in amputations, usually in lower extremities. Bystanders and passengers were almost four times more likely than operators to be admitted. The most common types of lawn mower injuries were cuts (39%) and burns (15%). The hand/finger was the most commonly injured body region, followed by the leg, feet and toes. Some of the most devastating lawn mower injuries result from backing up into/over young children while blades are engaged.

Most injuries result from human error rather than mechanical failure. It’s really important to take lawnmower safety very seriously. We’ve amassed safety tips from various sources – get more information from the source links after the tips.

  • Know your equipment – read and keep the operator’s manual and instructions.
  • Understand safety features. Never disengage them.
  • At the beginning of each season, inspect the mower to ensure it is operating well. Check that parts, nuts and bolts are all tight, clean, and in good working order. Never use a damaged mower without having it repaired/checked.
  • Before each mow, check to be sure your mower is in good condition and safety mechanisms are in place.
  • Don’t mow after dark or during electrical storms. Avoid mowing wet grass.
  • If your lawn mower is electric, use a ground fault circuit interrupter to prevent electric shock.
  • Always stop the engine and allow it to cool before refueling.
  • Before mowing, pick up any stones, branches, toys or other objects in the grass.
  • Don’t mow over gravel.
  • Dress for safety. Use safety glasses, hearing protection and wear sturdy shoes. No bare feet, exposed toes.
  • Always mow going forward. Do not mow in reverse unless necessary, and always check first. Avoid pulling lawn mowers to you.
  • Use extra caution when mowing a slope or a hill.
  • Never make any adjustments while the mower is running.
  • Shut it off when not in use. Do not allow motors to run unattended.
  • Keep pets inside while mowing.

Safety for kids

  • Keep young children (age 1 to 6) inside while mowing is going on.
  • Never let children be passengers on ride-able mowers.
  • Children should be at least 12 to use a push mower and at least 16 to operate a ride-able mower.
  • Teach teens how to operate the mower safely and run through a safety checklist.

Sources and more information

Insurance Information Institute: Lawnmower Safety

Consumer Reports: 5 ways to stay safe when mowing the lawn

Science Daily: Lawn mower injuries send 13 children to the emergency department every day

MedlinePlus: Lawn Mowers Are Risky Business for Kids

The Family Handyman: Top Ten Mower Safety Tips

Healthy Children: Lawn mower safety

Preventable deaths by age: A lifetime of risk


The news media often calls them “accidents” but the National Safety Council calls them “preventable deaths.” The upcoming months of July and August typically record the highest number of preventable deaths – primarily poisonings, car crashes, falls, drowning, choking and fires. And if you are surprised that poisonings are now topping the list, think about fatalities related opioids and other prescription drugs, which are spiking alarmingly in most regions of the country, displacing car crashes as a leading cause of accidental death.

June is National Safety Month, an annual observance sponsored by the National Safety Council. Take this quick interactive Safety Checkup to know your risks. We also liked the “lifetime of Risk” infographic (below) that maps out the highest risks for preventable deaths by age group.

National Safety Month
Provided by the National Safety Council

It’s Playground Safety Week – time to check those playgrounds!


Every year, about 200,000 kids are injured seriously enough in public playgrounds that they require emergency room treatments. As seasonal warm weather starts to settle in and kids head to public parks and play spaces, National Playground Safety Week offers a good reminder to parents. Don’t take it for granted that the public or commercial play equipment that your kids like so much are safe – make it your business to check out these spaces for yourself.  Don’t hesitate to call your Parks & Recreation department to ask about safety.

The National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) offers a helpful checklist of things that you should look for in playgrounds. For other excellent guides, see KidsHealth and the
National Safety Council.

We’ve compiled just a few these tips:

Provide supervision.  Adults should be on hand to watch for hazards and respond to any emergencies.

Ensure age-appropriate outdoor play. Make sure your kids are not using equipment that is above their age or safety level. See the NPPS guide for age appropriate design.

Be alert for clothing hazards. Be careful about strings on your kids’ clothing or on equipment. Strings can get caught causing strangulation.Remove strings, scarves, necklaces, and jewelry. Kids should also wear appropriate footwear. And here’s one important point: some parents might think a bike helmet would offer good playgroup protection – wrong! Playgrounds and helmets don’t mix. Helmets can snag on equipment or tree branches and cause asphyxiation.

Prevent burns. In addition to being careful that your kids are not out in the sun too long and have sunscreen to prevent burns, be sure to check the temperature of equipment surfaces. On a hot day, some equipment could be hot enough to cause burns. See Tips for limitings sun exposure.

Be alert for heavy molded plastic animal swings.  Those animal swings might look fun to you and your kids, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled these a number of years ago because the weight and frame can cause serious injuries if they strike kids. CPSC offers a 61 page Public Playground Safety Handbook that offers more safety information.

If you are planning for equipment at homes, see the NPPS backyard playground video series for tips.  And if you do have a backyard playground, make sure that you check with your insurance agent to be sure you have adequate liability insurance.

How to avoid driving blind spots


“I didn’t even see it coming!” Most drivers have experienced a close call at one point or another when changing lanes, often due to blind spots. The National Highway Traffic Institute says that blind spots account for more than 800,000 vehicular accidents a year. Blind spots are the areas around our vehicle that we can’t clearly see either with our peripheral vision or by looking in our mirrors, most commonly to the left and right rear of our cars. These blind spots can be affected by many factors: how many visual obstructions there are in the vehicle itself, such us window pillars and headrests, or your height in the driver’s seat, which can affect your external visibility. Blind spots are no joke – they can be big enough to hide an entire vehicle from your view.

The usual prescription for minimizing blind spots is a two-step process: properly adjusting your mirrors and physically turning your head to check before changing lanes.

But the question is, how do you properly adjust mirrors? Most people adjust side mirrors so that they can see the right and left rear flanks of their vehicle, but safety experts are now telling us that this is wrong: The Society of Automotive Engineers says that we should adjust the mirrors further outward to create a greater arc of visibility and this will eliminate blind spots entirely. See more about their recommendation, along with a diagram at How To: Adjust Your Mirrors to Avoid Blind Spots.

This short video goes into more detail and demonstrates exactly how:

Crash avoidance technologies

Many new cars are equipped with sensor and alert technologies either for blind spot detection or lane change warning systems designed to aid us in crash avoidance. As with many other crash avoidance systems, the technologies are still fairly new but expect to see more in future years.You might talk to your local insurance agent about any auto insurance discounts that might be available for car safety technologies.

This short clip from CNET talks about how such systems work and what to look for if you are shopping for a car with this technology.