Stories about: child safety

Protect your kids from dog bites: Tips from the experts

Dog bite prevention
Winston and Cal taking a break from play time. Socializing can help reduce aggression in dogs.

Working in the Department of Plastic and Oral Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Carolyn Rogers-Vizena treats many young patients with dog bites. “We see everything from small lacerations that can be repaired in the Emergency Department, to bone-crushing facial injuries that require multiple reconstructive operations,” she says.

No matter the severity, dog bites happen every day, and for the most part, they are avoidable. Local veterinarian Dr. Neil Storey teams up with Rogers-Vizena to answer parent’s questions to help their children enjoy man’s best friend in the safest and healthiest ways possible.

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Ask the expert: How to prevent dog bites

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Carolyn R. Rogers-Vizena, MD

Our 5-year-old neighbor was recently bitten by a dog. How can I keep my kids safe?

-Fearing Fido

Unfortunately, dog bites happen every day, and for the most part, they are avoidable. At Boston Children’s Hospital, we see everything from small lacerations that can be repaired in the Emergency Department to bone-crushing facial injuries that require multiple reconstructive operations. Most of the patients with bad dog bites that I see in our Department of Plastic & Oral Surgery are in the 4-6-year-old range – an age when children are usually mature enough to avoid a completely unfamiliar dog, but still young enough to unintentionally provoke a dog they feel comfortable with.

Sometimes bites are caused by a pet that the child lives with. More often, they seem to come from dogs that children are familiar with but don’t know as well, such as a friend or family member’s dog. Although I can’t necessarily say that one breed of dog is more likely to bite than another, certain breeds have incredible power and can cause a lot of damage with just one bite. The most serious bites I have cared for are from Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Akitas.

The most serious bites I have cared for are from Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and Akitas.

A patient treated by our team was attacked by a dog that smashed the child’s jaw and cheekbone, and badly injured the tissue around the eye. We repaired the patient’s bones with plates and screws and used bone from the skull to reconstruct areas where bone was missing. The child looks much better but still has a long way to go and will undoubtedly have some permanent injury. Fortunately, severe bite injuries like this are much less common than skin injuries!

As a dog lover and owner as well as someone who treats many kids with dog bites, these are are my tips for keeping your kids safe:

1. Always supervise your children around dogs.

Never leave a dog alone with kids, particularly young children. I don’t think you can be too safe.

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Four steps to help kids avoid heat stroke in cars

Car-seat_emptyA total of eighteen children have died this year from heat stroke after being left alone in a car.

Unfortunately, this is not an alarming new trend. Since 1998, at least 600 children across the United States have died when they were left unattended in a vehicle. A majority of these children were left accidently in the backseat by a distracted parent or caregiver, only to discover the child hours later, after it was too late. Other times the child found her way into a parked car and couldn’t get out on her own. As many as 18 percent of these deaths occurred after a parent knowingly left a child in a car.

But this isn’t an issue only in the Deep South, Arizona desert or other extreme heat areas— heat stroke deaths have been recorded in almost all 50 states throughout the entire year. Vehicles heat up quickly—as much as 19 degrees in 10 minutes—so a car can go from uncomfortable to dangerous in minutes, especially for young children whose body heat can spike up to 5 times faster than adults. Once their internal temperature hits 104 degrees, the major organs begin to shut down; when it reaches 107 degrees, the child could die. Reports show children have died in cars on days where the temperature was in the 70s.

Every one of these deaths is as tragic as it was preventable. To make sure it never happens to your child:

  • Always lock car doors when parking to prevent a child from climbing in on her own.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a car, even if you only plan on being gone for a few minutes. Not only is it dangerous, it’s actually illegal in some states, as this mother found out and reported on in a griping article.
  • Get in the habit of placing an important item, like a cell phone, briefcase, wallet or purse, next to the child when buckling her in to her car seat. Soon you’ll start instinctively reaching in the back seat and putting the car seat in your direct line of sight before leaving the car, which can eliminate accidental leavings.
  • Let babysitters, grandparents and other adults who may watch your child know that it is never OK to leave the child alone in a car.
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Summer first aid tips for parents

Meaghan_OKeeffe_1Meaghan O’Keeffe, RN, BSN, is a mother, writer and nurse. She worked at Boston Children’s Hospital for nearly a decade, in both the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Pre-op Clinic.  She is a regular contributor to Thriving.

Summer provides ample opportunity for enjoying nature, playing outside and gazing at skies full of stars. But some of the side effects of all that outside time—scrapes, stings and other minor injuries—can take some of the fun out of summer. Here’s a quick refresher on some basic first aid every parent should know this time of year.

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