Top 25 Safety Articles of the Week: March 1

seatbelt for pregnant women

This pregnancy seatbelt is not only safe, but allows for (more) comfortable third-trimester driving. Finally!

Welcome to another week of the blogosphere’s best safety & security news! There were a lot of important tip posts this week, so I tried to round out the seriousness with upbeat safety news, too. For example, did you know that a U.K.-based company has developed a harness seatbelt for safer driving (or car riding) while pregnant? Ladies, the third trimester just got a little bit less uncomfortable.

I hope you enjoy my favorites. As always, if there’s something I missed, please let me know in the comments.

Home Safety

  1. Martine at Dainty Mom shares her top tips for keeping your home and family safe. I really appreciate her emphasis on simple, clean things we can all do, like choosing healthy foods and chemical-free cleaners.
  2. Fire safety crosses international borders. Seasoned home inspector Brent from Homes Extra asks important questions in his fire safety test. Is your family safe?

Family & Child Safety

  1. If you’ve ever worried about what to do in the case of anaphylactic shock, you can’t miss Caroline’s post over at The Grateful Foodie on four missed anaphylaxis emergency care opportunities.
  2. When Inhabitots mentioned the world’s first seatbelt designed for pregnant women, it was all I could do not to shout YES! It looks more like a race car harness than your standard belt, and is designed to keep mother and baby safe in the event of an accident.
  3. Did you know that heart disease kills more women than breast cancer? Read all about heart health – for men and women – over at Safety Mom.
  4. Admittedly, growing pains are not so much a safety concern as a question of your little one’s comfort and happiness. But we all want to minimize our children’s pain, so The Parent Report has some easy tips on what to do if your child is experiencing growing pains.
  5. File this one under obvious-but-forgotten: if your child has special needs, is in public school, and has and IEP, Judy Safety Source reminds us that he or she should have a personalized emergency evacuation program.
  6. If anyone has ever taken care of your child, you probably know how awkward/hard/uncomfortable/stressful (take your pick!) it can be to relay your wishes in a way that doesn’t make you seem… well, kind of nuts. Sierra from Common Sense Media has some really great, really sane tips on how to communicate screen time rules for every occasion.
  7. Have you checked your credit report lately? Dennis from iKeepSafe tells you why you need to run regular reports, and how you can do it with minimal headache.
  8. Doreen from SAF Baby has some really solid tips this week on healthy, easy habits your family can adopt to prevent obesity.
  9. What to expect when you’re expecting – and you already have a dog? The Parent Report collaborated with doggie guru Dr. Stanley Coren to give us some good tips on introducing your new baby to your furry baby.

Senior Safety

  1. Change is constant, but it’s also hard. And change is particularly difficult for seniors, who are experiencing major transitions, like the death of a spouse or loss of independence. Aging Wisely gives some good advice on how not to handle transitions for the seniors you love.
  2. This week, Susan from Help! Aging Parents also reminded us that it’s never too soon (or too late) for a refresher on the signs of stroke and learning proper emergency response to a stroke.

Online & Data Security

  1. Robert from McAfee reviews one of the sneakiest – and most rampant – Craigslist scams out there today. Seller beware!
  2. Aleksandr of We Live Security clues us in on a major hacking scheme against European banks – that’s been going on for a year!
  3. Consumer Reports reminds us that we should never ignore a data breach letter. Take the (free) steps to avoid identity fraud, and save yourself a bundle of stress and money down the road.
  4. Patricia Vance, President of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), hops over to the Get Game Smart blog to school parents on how to read game ratings – and why they matter.
  5. It’s easy to demonize cyberbullies, even the pint-sized ones, but Tim from uKnowKids has a great point: is your child a cyberbully without knowing it? Remember, even well-intentioned kids can get swept up into peer pressure. Sometimes all it takes to turn bullying around is a bit of parental guidance on netiquette and The Golden Rule.
  6. And while we’re on the topic of kids and their roles in cyberbullying, Sameer from the Cyberbullying Research Center reports on a very encouraging trend: young students are now using plays to combat cyberbullying.
  7. Graham from Naked Security (hmm… wonder what that office looks like!) gives it to you straight about Adobe’s record three Flash Player security updates in February.
  8. Good news doesn’t always make headlines, but Last Watchdog Byron has the details on some new, cutting-edge technology to beat the bad guys.
  9. WebProNews summarizes some of the findings from HP’s newly released 2012 Cyber Security Risk Report.

Work Safety

  1. Blog4Safety brings us a timely guest post from Saam Banai on how to outfit your business for winter safety. Keep your employees and customers safe during this final month of winter!
  2. Steve from The Safe Workplace posts summaries of OSHA and state OSHA significant citations that have proposed fines over $100,000 every week. Check out some of the citations from the week ending February 23rd – and make sure your workplace isn’t on the list.
  3. Pamela at Income Therapy has some 10 rock-solid tips on best safety practices for the workplace.

Top 25 Family Safety Articles of the Week: Feb 22, 2013

increasing online security with biometrics

Are fingerprints and heartbeat scanners the cybersecurity of the future?

This week, I’m eager to share with you some great blogging on cyberbullying, online account hacking, and the dangers of BYOD – and essential tips to prevent these problems. I’m also excited to share some really cool articles about the future of online security: biometrics! Real life just got a little bit closer to science fiction.

I’m still waiting on those flying cars, though.

Home Safety

  1. Score one for the good guys: Nick Smith from a San Francisco ABC affiliate has the recent story of a how a local homeowner (and the police) used his home security cameras to catch a thief.
  2. The U.S. government’s Food Safety blog wants you to know that the nutrition label is growing up: it just turned 20! The FDA also notes that nutrition label changes/updates are on the horizon.

Family & Child Safety

  1. We talk a lot about cyberbullying here at Safe Sound Family, but here’s some great information we’ve never talked about: Tim of uKnowKids gives us an overview of the laws that govern online bullying.
  2. While he’s on the subject, Tim also talks about the short- and long-term repercussions of cyberbulling – both for the victim and the aggressor. If your kids have been involved in online bullying, get them the help they need!
  3. Finally, Tim winds down with some great info and suggestions on how teachers can help address and prevent cyberbullying.
  4. Free Range mom Lenore Skenazy is one of my perennial favorite bloggers for level-headed parenting. This week, she talked about a study – yes, another study – that shows helicopter parenting might cause depression when kids reach adulthood. Something to chew on.
  5. Does the cold of winter make you want to bake? (Or, at least, spend time snuggled in front of a warm stove?) Bryan of the Child Safety Blog gives us eight good tips on teaching your older kids to use knives safely.
  6. It’s a difficult topic to discuss – or even to think about – but Blog4Safety brings us essential tips on how to protect yourself against predators in your home, on the street, and in your car.
  7. KidSafe reminds us that social media use is on the rise, even for our very youngest population: most kids under 2 (!) have a social footprint.
  8. If you spend any time traveling with elderly friends or family, you’ll be thankful for Blog4Safety’s review of the 7 most essential travel safety tips for seniors.
  9. Heads up: new federal regulations are going into place for play yards (playpens).

Online Safety

  1. If you have a Mac – and especially if you bought one so you’d be “invulnerable” to cybercrime – Gary from McAffee has news for you: Apple devices can be hacked
  2. … And they were, this week. Agam Shah from CSO News has the skinny on Apple’s malware attack.
  3. uKnowKids hops into the mix again with a great post on how to keep digital parenting fun with five kid-friendly websites that teach online safety.
  4. Taylor Armerding from the CSO blog  has a very interesting article on Google Play and one app developer who says Google shares too much of its customers’ personal information.
  5. If you’re interested in President Obama’s new cyber security initiatives, you can’t miss this PBS interview with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
  6. Hemanshu Nigam of the Huffington Post has a suggestion for Sesame Street that will grab the attention of any parent with young children: Elmo should teach online safety for kids.
  7. We’re way past Halloween and the closest holiday is St. Patty’s Day (right?), but if you’re hankering for some real-life horror, check out Lianne Caetano’s insight into how cybercriminals can access your texting history, rob your bank account, and steal your identity.
  8. Call me a geek, but this is cool: The Toronto Star reports that the next frontier in online security is our bodies. That’s right, we’re talking about using biometrics, like your unique heartbeat, as a sort of human barcode.
  9. And speaking of, GMA News says that Google is looking into password-less online security. Still on the topic of biometrics, Google might consider using fingerprints or iris (eye) scans to log you on.
  10. Did you read about the epic Twitter hack that went down this week? Funny – unless it’s you or your brand getting hacked. The Cyber Safety Lady has everything you need to know about stopping your Twitter account from being hacked.
  11. Brian Krebs, of KrebsonSecurity, brings to light a Christmas Eve 2012 cyberattack on a California financial institution that netted $900,000 in stolen funds.

Work Safety

  1. This week, the Work Safety Blog had two great posts: five rights you have (but may not know) when working near the water, and all about asbestos awareness training.
  2. Yikes. Numaan Huq and Richard Wang of SophosLabs bring us the latest and sneakiest point-of-sale malware designed to steal your customers’ money. Don’t ever trust that your business is too small to be targeted.
  3. I mentioned BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and work safety last week, but here we go again. We Live Security has some pros and cons of BYOD, and how to keep your workplace safe(r).

8 Surprising Safety Hazards in the Home

dangerous extension cord

Extension cords and other cables can present a serious hazard to young children

You probably don’t think of your home as a labyrinth of potential dangers, but quite a few everyday objects maraud as surprising home safety hazards. Sure, you have your knives safely stored out of the reach of chubby toddler hands, but is your dishwasher – where you wash all those sharp knives – toddler-proof?

Yeah, mine wasn’t either. Don’t worry, it doesn’t make you a bad parent or irresponsible caregiver; it just means we have to bone up on hidden safety hazards in the home. Here are the top dangers I’ve caught at my house. Help me out: What else am I missing?

Dun, dun, dun… Dishwasher

I already mentioned that dishwashers can provide easy access to sharp knives (and scissors and meat forks and…), and you also need to watch for access to detergent. Many dishwasher detergents, both liquid and powder, are corrosive and poisonous if swallowed. Keep these products way out of the reach of young children.

Magnets

Is your fridge decorated with fun magnets, maybe even those cute letters that help kids learn to spell? Heads up, because these can be dangerous to kids, especially ones who still put everything in their mouths. Not only are they a choking hazard, but swallowing magnets can cause serious internal injuries. (Remember the rare earth magnets recall?)

Corded Blinds

I shudder to even think of this one, but corded blinds present a serious strangulation risk to young children. It’s really not enough to just tie the cords up or snag them on a high hook; kids are industrious! Cordless blinds are available but can get pricey. At our house, we make do with curtains and a few sliding vertical blinds (no cord, just a solid plastic pull) to block the sun in key areas.

master grilling station

Your dream grilling station is also a potential fire hazard

Pools & Hot Tubs

You may not be surprised that pools and hot tubs are dangerous, but I’m not only talking about drowning risk. Pool chemicals are very poisonous, so make sure they’re locked up at all times. Additionally, faulty wiring, aging wiring, and malfunctioning equipment can cause electrocution; and poorly maintained drains can suck in hair and cause danger to young swimmers. Perform regular pool maintenance and always watch your children while they swim.

Grills

Millions of Americans fire up their massive grills to barbecue during warm weather, but few realize what a hazard these dream cooking machines can be. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates an annual 6,500 grill fires resulting in $27 million in property damage and unquantifiable injuries.

don't buy a used carseat

Used carseats have hidden dangers; always buy new!

Extension Cords

Extension cords cause far too many injuries and property damage each year, due to misuse and poor maintenance. Don’t use cords that are frayed or faulty (warm to the touch), and never domino them together for extra length. Be sure to observe children and pets, as chewing on these cords can result in burns and electrocution.

Balloons

Don’t feel like a party-pooper if you restrict your kids’ use of latex balloons. These popular birthday accoutrement are a leading cause of suffocation, as children often chew or pop balloons, and the latex can perfectly adhere to their throats to block breathing.

Hand-Me-Downs

Passing clothes and shoes on to younger siblings, family and friends is great, but resist the urge to give or receive used gear. Older high chairs, bouncers, and other baby and toddler stuff might not meet current safety standards. Of particular concern are used carseats, which should never be used. They’re likely expired, and if they’ve spent any time in the sun or experienced even a minor fender-bender, there may be invisible cracks in the seat that render them unsafe.

How to Deal With an Intruder in Your Home

burglar breaking in at night

Takes these steps to stay safe from a nighttime burglary

You’re startled awake in the middle of the night. You think you heard a noise, but can’t be sure. There it is again. It’s definitely a noise, and it definitely sounds like someone’s in the house. What to do?

The most important thing is to have a plan before you get to this point. Knowing what you will do and how you’ll do it will minimize panic and confusion in the moment, leaving you better equipped to protect your home and family. Here’s how we’ve planned it at my house:

1. Remain Calm

A little bit of adrenaline can help wake you up to handle this situation, but fear can lead to panicked reactions and violence. As in any emergency, the best course of action is to keep a clear head, so you can proceed as necessary.

2. Get to a Safe Space

It’s best to designate two safe spaces, so in case a burglar blocks your path to one, you can still go to the other. This safe space can, obviously, be your bedroom, in which case you wouldn’t have to move at all. However, if you have kids the safe space will probably be one of their bedrooms. The goal is for everyone to be together, in one space.

3. Open the Window

You should always have an alternate escape route, and a window is a good choice. Unlock and open it to prepare for a quick exit, if necessary. If your safe space is not on the ground floor, make sure to have an escape ladder stored in the room.

4. Call the Police / Hit the Panic Button

As soon as your family is united in your safe space, call the police. (Your home phone line may have been cut, so it’s a good idea to have a cell phone handy.) You should also hit the panic button – make sure you’ve installed one in your safe space! Many burglar alarms come standard with panic buttons, but if yours doesn’t, consider getting one as an add-on.

5. Do Not Confront

Unless you are trained in self-defense, confronting a burglar is more dangerous than staying hidden. Even if the intruder looks small or weak, s/he could be carrying a knife, a gun or some other type of dangerous weapon.

6. Arm Yourself

It’s a frightening thought, but it is a good idea to arm yourself with a baseball bat, a bottle – any blunt object that could be used as a weapon. In case you come face-to-face with a dangerous burglar, an improvised weapon could keep you safe.

If a burglar approaches or attacks you, fight back with the required force. Throw objects at his/her eyes and face. Swing for the knees or shins to incapacitate. Do whatever is necessary to keep yourself and your family safe from harm.

7. Don’t Move

When the police arrive, stay where you are until they have cleared your home and pronounced it safe. If they didn’t find an intruder, make sure they check the attic, basement, crawl spaces or other hidey holes.

Home Safety Checklist

Household Safety Checklist

Protect your family from potential safety hazards in the home

Your home is where you feel most comfortable, but you should always be aware of and on the lookout for potential safety hazards. Some are obvious, like a broken window, but others can easily slip our mind. Take a few minutes each month to review your household safety, point by point.

Our safety checklist will help keep your home not only sweet, but safe.

Home Safety

Follow these basic guidelines to keep your home safe for the entire family.

Cordless Window Coverings: Loose cords can strangle children in an instant. Switch out all corded blinds and curtains for cordless versions. If this is cost prohibitive or not possible, make sure all cords are stored out of children’s reach and without loops or knots.

Smoke Alarms: Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms outside every bedroom, as well as on every level of your home (including the basement) and in furnace areas. Buy dual alarms that use long-life lithium batteries. Test your smoke alarms at least once per month to make sure they’re working properly and replace the batteries every year.

Extension Cords: No cords, including extension cords, should run across doorways or under rugs. If you’re using an extension cord as a permanent fixture, consider having new electrical outlets installed.

Outlet Safety: Once a month, do a hand-check on all outlets; if they’re warm, call your electrician. At all times, make sure you stay within manufacturer recommendations for maximum wattage per outlet, and never plug more than one high-wattage appliance into a single outlet.

Home Safety Checklist

Print this home safety checklist and review at least once a month

Sweep Your Chimney: Schedule an annual flue and chimney sweep (inspection and cleaning) before firing up your first logs. And while we’re on that topic, only burn dry or seasoned wood, which produces less creosote (soot) – a fire hazard.

Water Heater Safety: Your water heater should be set for a maximum 120° to prevent burns (especially if you have children). Always keep flammable or combustible materials (including household chemicals and aerosol cans) away from your hot water heater.

Fire Extinguishers: You should have a fire extinguisher in at least the kitchen and on every floor of your home. Replace extinguishers as directed by the manufacturer.

Escape Route: Establish a plan of escape in the event of fire. You should map out at least two exit routes, and should purchase a rescue ladder if your home is multi-level. Practice your escape plan at least twice per year, with at least one time at night.

Emergency Numbers: Compile a list of emergency phone numbers, from the local police and fire departments to who to call in case of emergency. Print several versions to post throughout your home (at least one per floor).

Pool Safety: If you have a pool (or any source of water on your property), surround it or block access with a 4-foot fence. The access gate should open out, and should close automatically (without slamming shut) and employ a self-latch system that positioned out of reach of little hands.

Poison Control: Keep all poisonous chemicals and other products behind locked doors. Additionally, controlled substances like alcohol and tobacco should be kept in a locked cabinet.

Babyproofing and Childproofing: Keeping your home safe for a baby or young child is essential. Learn more about baby proofing and childproofing (for toddlers+).

Home Security

Fire Escape Plan

Smoke alarms and a practiced escape route will keep your family safe in case of emergency

Part of keeping your home safe is keeping it secure, so double-check your home for these basic security measures. For a more in-depth approach to burglarproofing your home, read up on the best burglar deterrents and other home security tips.

Use Deadbolts: Use a sturdy deadbolt on every exterior door. If any doors have windows, also install a floor lock.

Motion-Activated Floodlights: Install motion-sensor floodlights around your home, and make sure their bulbs are in good, working condition.

Sliding Doors: Sliding or track doors require a solid bar or dowel in their tracking system to prevent break-in. This bar should measure almost the exact length of the track (within 1/4″ of the total length).

Spare Combination: Do not store your spare key under a rock or on the doorframe – thieves know all about these hiding spots. Either give your key to a trusted neighbor or install a small combination safe somewhere on your property.

Visible House Number: In case of emergency, your house number should be clearly visible from the street. Consider using reflective numbers or installing a light over the area, so your home can be identified even in the dark.