We saw the worst that can happen last week in Harrisburg, PA when a hoverboard caught on fire in a family’s home, claiming the life of a three-year-old child.
The hoverboard reportedly ignited while charging, destroying the home. The three-year-old girl died at a local hospital and two other girls were left in critical condition. The girl’s father and a teenage boy were treated for smoke inhalation.
This tragedy was compounded by another death; a local firefighter was reportedly killed in a motor vehicle accident while driving to the fire, the victim of an alleged drunk driver who now faces charges.
Baby Stroller Recalls. We started with baby strollers because there have been several baby strollers recalled in the past year, including Britax, Aria Child and Phil & Teds strollers. Britax has actually issued two sets of recalls over the past 15 months, one for 60,000 strollers in January 2016 and another for more than 700,000 strollers in February 2017.
Many of us will shop for a child this holiday season. Do your homework first, so you purchase gifts which are both safe and fun to use.
Each year, children and young adults are seriously injured or killed while playing with dangerous and defective toys. We should be able to trust that the toys we purchase from reputable stores are safe, but that is not always the case. In 2015, there were an estimated 185,500 toy-related, emergency department-treated injuries and 11 deaths to children younger than 15 years old, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Riding toys, specifically non-motorized scooters, were associated with the most toy-related injuries.
Before you shop, here are a few tips:
Check out the CPSC recall page.Check the recall page before you shop. You can search for a specific toy, by manufacturer or in several different useful ways.
Read labels. Look for labels with age recommendations and follow them. If you shop online, double check the age recommendation and other labels once you receive the product box. What you see on the computer screen may not be what you actually receive.
Read the Top 10 Worst Toys 0f 2016 list.Take time to read this list and make sure not to buy any toy mentioned on it.Another toy to note: the Tonka 12V Ride-On Dump Truck. It has not been recalled, but Toys R Us has pulled it off shelves after one of the toys caught fire in Bellingham, Washington over the weekend.
No small pieces. Do not buy toys with small pieces for small children under three years old. Consider every part, even things such as small plastic eyes and noses on stuffed animals and dolls which could become loose.
Plastic film. If you purchase toys with mirrors or similar surfaces, remove the protective plastic film before giving the gift to a child. It is a choking hazard.
Avoid magnets. Do not purchase toys or adult gifts with small magnets. If a small child swallows two or more magnets, they attract in the stomach. Surgery may be required to remove the magnets and the child may suffer very serious complications. Thousands of children have these suffered these injuries and required surgeries. At least one child died in recent years, according to news stories.
The CPSC and companies have recalled many of the popular magnet toy sets in recent years, such as Buckyballs toys, and strengthened federal standards. But some are still sold. Steer clear of any product with small magnets. Once they are brought into a house, small pieces can fall under furniture or other areas and stay there for years until they are discovered by a child. They are hard to thoroughly clean up.
Electrical toys. Children should use toys with electrical components under adult supervision and follow age recommendations. Before you buy an electrical toy, check with a child’s parents to see if it is appropriate.
Cords and strings. Do not buy toys with long strings for infants and young children. A child can wrap a long string around his or her own neck and strangle themselves.
Batteries. Do not purchase toys which operate with small circle button batteries.
Balloons. Children can suffocate from balloons and the CPSC advises against letting children younger than 8 play with balloons. One risk is a child can swallow a balloon or suck it in while blowing it up. After the balloon pops, a child can also choke on the broken pieces. Continue reading
Photo left to right: Bill Hanson, chair of the Framingham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, volunteer Maura Kelly, Framingham police officers and Attorney David W. White of Breakstone, White & Gluck.
Breakstone, White & Gluck, the Framingham Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and the Framingham Police Department teamed up and gave away 120 bicycle helmets to children last weekend at the 5th Annual Framingham Earth Day Festival.
Breakstone, White & Gluck donated the helmets through our Project KidSafe initiative and attorney David W. White participated in the event, along with advisory committee members, including Bill Hanson, chair of the advisory committee, member Joseph Repoli, volunteer Maura Kelly and Framingham police officers.
Framingham Earth Day is held on the Framingham Centre Common and each year the event grows. It began in 2011 with 55 vendors encouraging residents to make eco-friendly choices. This year, nearly 100 vendors turned out. Breakstone, White & Gluck first participated in the festival last year.
Through our Project KidSafe initiative, Breakstone, White & Gluck has donated over 3,500 bicycle helmets to children in the Boston and Worcester areas. We expect to have donated more than 6,000 bicycle helmets by year’s end. Our goal is to encourage children to wear a bicycle helmet every time they ride.
Cyclists of all ages should wear bicycle helmets to protect themselves from a serious head injury. But bicycle helmets are especially important for children, and they are required to wear them by law in Massachusetts.
Children suffer more than half of all bicycle-related injuries and deaths which require emergency department care each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some 26,000 of these bicycle-related injuries to children and teenagers are traumatic brain injuries treated in emergency rooms.
April is National Youth Sports Safety Month, an annual event sponsored by the Stop Sports Injuries organization.
All parents of young athletes fear sports injuries – and there are a large number out there. A 2013 ESPN article reported that more than 21 million children and teens (between ages 6 and 17) are playing organized sports in the U.S.
But a large number of children and teens are also playing, then quitting because of injury. Some 29 percent of boys quit due to a health problem or injury and 27 percent of girls quit for the same reason, according to ESPN’s report.
A few other noteworthy figures:
Roughly 2.7 million kids under age 20 were treated for sports and recreation injuries between 2001 and 2009.
There was a 62 percent increase in the number of children under 19 who were treated for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
Football concussions among children age 10 to 14 more than doubled from 2000 to 2010.
Sports programs are a big part of many children’s lives. The experiences will shape them into adulthood and should be enjoyed. But parents, children and coaches must also remember the rules of safety and learn the symptoms of a concussion and the proper ways to treat a head injury.
Symptoms of a concussion may include headaches, dizziness, trouble concentrating, amnesia surrounding the traumatic event, confusion or feeling in a fog, ringing in ears, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, delayed response to questions and fatigue. Other symptoms may set in later, including memory and concentration problems, personality changes, sleep disturbances, psychological adjustments, depression and problems with taste and smell. When someone shows signs of these symptoms, they should receive immediate medical attention. But anytime a child suffers a concussion or head injury, they should be evaluated by a medical professional regardless of these symptoms.
Here are a few tips for parents:
Listen to Concussion Safety Information. Listen when your child’s coach talks about sports injuries and concussion prevention at the start of the season. In Massachusetts, middle school and high school sports coaches are required to provide training and prevention information related to concussions, under a state law passed in 2010.
Properly Warm Up. Make sure your child properly warms up, even if you drop them off late. Lack of proper warm ups make your child vulnerable to muscle and other injuries.
Football. Make sure your young football player properly warms up, takes proper precautions on those warm late August days to prevent overheating and is educated about symptoms of a concussion. This is important in all sports, but football players are especially vulnerable due to the high contact involved in the game.
Baseball and Softball. Make sure your baseball player properly warms up to protect against arm and shoulder injuries. Then make sure your child pays attention to the coaches and umpires and always focuses on the batter to avoid getting hit. Paying attention is more important than anything else in baseball because balls and bats are always moving quickly. Read more tips on our website.
Soccer. Players are vulnerable to head and other injuries from contact with the other team. Players are often running fast, with their full attention on the soccer ball, neglecting to see other players coming at the ball with just as much force. When someone gets hurt like this, they should step off the playing field and be evaluated by a coach or yourself.
Ready or not, the holiday shopping season begins in earnest this week. Enjoy shopping for loved ones, but remember to buy with caution, especially when selecting toys and products used by young children. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled millions of unsafe toys this year, and also many of the most basic children’s products, including car seats, strollers and furniture. Shoppers should closely examine every purchase. Here are a few holiday shopping tips:
Check for recalls. Search the CPSC database to see if a specific product has been recalled. You can also search by company.
Here are some of the important ones to remember:
Graco Recalls. Graco recalled millions of car seats earlier this year because of sticky-buckles which were trapping children in the seats. Just last week, it also recalled 4.7 million defective strollers which can cause finger amputation. Graco recalled the 11 stroller models after 10 fingertip amputations and one finger laceration. The strollers were sold from 2010 until earlier this month at a number of retailers, including Target, Toys R Us, Walmart, Amazon.com and Walmart.com. Read the recall notice.
Furniture Recalls. Common home furniture also caused child injuries this year. In August, Ace Bayou recalled 2.2 million bean bag chairs after two children unzipped them, crawled inside and suffocated to death. Anyone with one of these defective chairs should call the company for a repair kit to disable the zipper.
Another serious recall impacted in Massachusetts. Earlier in the year, Lane furniture renewed its recall of wooden cedar chests after two children in Franklin became trapped in one and suffocated. The children had apparently been playing hide-and-seek and became locked inside. The company first recalled the chests in 1996, but millions of the defective chests are believed to still be in use without the necessary repair.
In the Massachusetts case, the children’s family is believed to have bought the used chest at a second-hand store more than a decade ago. Second-hand sales are challenging to regulate, as are families and friends who pass along used products to each other. This makes it important to know the characteristics of an unsafe product as well as specific products which have been recalled.
Buy age-appropriate. Read the age recommendation on toys and children’s products. Consider a child’s family. If you are buying for a child with younger siblings, buy something which is safe for all ages in the household.
Be careful buying online. After a product is recalled, it is against the law to sell it in stores or online. But some auction and online listing websites do not police private sellers closely. Avoid these sites when holiday shopping for children.
If you purchase through a merchant website such as Amazon.com, make sure you receive the right product and that it has the same age appropriate label and pieces as shown online.
Beware of suffocation and choking hazards. Avoid balloons, marbles and toys with small pieces which children can put in their mouth. Also avoid small magnets. Remember these things come with many toys, but they also come from other gifts and products that enter a home. For instance, the magnet desk sets which were so popular many years ago for adults turned out to be extremely dangerous for children. In some cases with the Buckyball magnet sets (which have been recalled), children found small magnets years after families brought the set into their home in hard-to-reach places, such as under a couch. Our point is: Please consider every gift carefully. Continue reading
Congratulations to our associate, Sam Segal, who has been elected treasurer of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division Board of Directors for the 2014-2015 year.
Segal graduated from Northeastern University School of Law in the spring of 2010. He joined Breakstone, White & Gluck as an associate after completing a co-operative internship with the firm as part of his studies. He earned a double-major undergraduate degree with honors from Arcadia University in Pennsylvania.
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, he specializes in personal injury cases, including those involving car accidents, bicycle accidents, medical malpractice and construction accidents. He was selected as a Massachusetts Super Lawyers Rising Star for 2013. Segal has participated in Young Lawyers Division events for several years and also volunteers as an attorney-coach for the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Mock Trial Team.
Breakstone, White & Gluck has long been active with the Massachusetts Bar Association. Attorney David White served as president for the 2007-2008 term. White and attorney Marc Breakstone have led Continuing Legal Education seminars over the years, in topics such as personal injury and how to start a solo law practice. The firm is also a sponsor at the annual dinner each spring.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is calling on the public to check their home smoke alarms, after more than a million units were recalled yesterday.
Kidde recalled 1.2 million smoke alarms in the United States and 112,000 in Canada. No injuries have been reported, but the models have a defect which may prevent them from working after a power outage. This is an important recall because each year, three to five deaths in property fires come in buildings without working smoke alarms, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
The smoke alarms are all residential models:
Kidde residential smoke alarm model i12010S with manufacture dates between December 18, 2013 and May 13, 2014
Kidde Combination smoke/CO alarm il2010SCO with manufacture dates between December 30, 2013 and May 13, 2014
Kidde Combination smoke/CO alarm model KN-COSM-IBA with manufacture date between October 22, 2013 and May 13, 2014
These smoke alarms are all hard-wired into a home’s electric system. The i12010S and il2010SCO models come with 10-year batteries inside while the KN-COSM-IBA uses replaceable AA backup batteries.
These smoke alarms look like most: white, round and are about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Closely inspect the fine print on the front of yours for the word “Kidde.” On the backside, there is a label with the model number and manufacturing dates. “Always on” is also engraved on the front of alarms with sealed 10-year batteries.
These smoke alarms were sold at CED, City Electric Supply, HD Supply, Home Depot, Menards Inc. and other retailers. They were sold online at Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com and shopkidde.com from January 2014 through July 2014 for between $30 and $50.
Daylight Saving Time. We will set our clocks back an hour for Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, November 2. The National Fire Protection Association and other safety officials recommend we also replace the batteries in our smoke alarms, test them to make sure they work and replace any models which are 10 years old.
Monthly Testing. Safety organizations also recommend we test smoke alarm batteries once a month.
Inform Others. Make sure everyone in your home knows what the smoke alarm sounds like and knows where they are located. Here is a resource for more safety and planning information.
Apartment Residents. If you rent an apartment, ask your building management company or property owner to show you the smoke alarms when you sign the lease. Contact them whenever you suspect a problem or have a question. Continue reading
The long and lazy days of summer are finally here and many of us are spending them by the pool. We hope you enjoy these times with your friends and family. And please remember to think about safety.
Each year in the U.S., nearly 5,000 children under age 15 are treated for pool- or spa-related injuries at hospital emergency rooms, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Nearly 400 children under age 15 are killed in swimming pool and spa drownings. More than 75 percent of these children are under the age of 5 and the majority of these deaths occur at private residences. But injuries can happen at any pool where someone stops paying attention or is negligent, including hotel swimming pools, community centers and other places.
Prevent injuries this summer by talking about the rules of safety with your family and friends.
Pool Owners. You have a responsibility to keep your pool area safe for family and invited guests and to secure it from others. You must keep your pool behind a fence which is at least four feet tall and secures with a self-latching and self-closing gate. But we encourage you to go a step further. Try walking around your fenced-in pool area. Are there areas where a young child could easily get in on their own? If so, make adjustments.
If you have questions, a good resource is your town’s local building department.
Drain Covers. Keep children away from pool drains, pipes and other openings which could cause entrapment.
Home Spa Safety. If you have a home spa, install and use a child-proof locked safety cover to keep children out.
Watch Children Closely. Before the swimming season, learn CPR. Then when you head to the pool, set aside all distractions and watch the children. Avoid distractions such as reading, cell phone calls, and texting–supervision should be treated like a job.
When supervising young children, swim with them and practice “touch supervision.” For older children, watch them and be involved with them even if you are not swimming. Talk to them and let them know if they are doing something they should not be. If you are part of a group of adults watching children swim, designate someone the “pool watcher” so that the children are supervised at all times. But still supervise your own children at all times.
Likewise, at hotel and community pools, do not rely on lifeguards to watch your children.
Dress Children Appropriately. Make sure children are not wearing swimming suits or hair accessories that can get caught in pool drains or other openings.
Poolside Toys. Many pool accidents involve diving board, sports equipment, rafts and pool slides. Always look before you use. If something looks unsteady, do not use it.
Many pools no longer have diving boards because homeowner’s insurance companies have stopped providing coverage for them. But if you are going to dive, make sure the water is at least 10 feet deep.
Avoid portable pool slides, inflatable toys and using backyard trampolines with the pool. These products may not be designed for use with a pool or may be defective. In one Massachusetts case, a Colorado woman visiting the state died in 2006 after she slid down a Banzai brand inflatable slide at a backyard pool. It partially deflated, causing her to strike her head on concrete by the pool. The Consumer Product Safety Commission later recalled 21,000 of the Banzai brand inflatable slides and continues to recall unsafe pool toys and equipment each year.
Broken Glass. Do not bring beer bottles and glass out to the pool. Serious accidents can happen if the glass breaks in or near the pool and someone steps in it. If there is broken glass in the pool, it will be invisible and therefore impossible to find safely. Beyond injury, you will have a lot of clean-up. First you will have to drain the pool and then you will have to sweep it thoroughly. Continue reading
Many of us will spend the last few weeks of summer by the pool, with family and friends, at a slower pace. Relax and enjoy it, but also remember you have responsibilities if young children are around the pool. When a child is left unsupervised, tragedies can happen quickly, sometimes within seconds. In fact, a child who is submerged under water can lose consciousness within just two minutes. Within four to six minutes, permanent brain injury can occur.
This happens too often. Last summer, nearly 140 children in the U.S. died in swimming pool drownings between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) figures. Another 170 children suffered near-fatal incidents in pools or spas. All the children were 15 and under.
Swimming pool drownings are preventable. If parents, family and friends at the pool work together, you can keep swimming a safe and fun experience for young children.
Our injury attorneys share a few safety reminders:
Watch Young Children. Never leave your child alone in the water or near the water. That includes kiddie pools. At the pool, set aside all distractions: your cell phone, magazines and engaging conversation.
Take a Break from Distraction. If you become distracted or fatigued while watching your child, take a break. Ask them to come out of the pool for a little while.
Swim with your Child. Practice “touch supervision” with young children and keep them within reach at all times. As your child gets older, enroll them in swimming lessons. Make a point to get in the pool with them regularly. You can evaluate their strength as a swimmer best from the water and show them how to handle the water around other children.
Swim with a Buddy. Make sure your child knows they must always swim with someone else.
Lifejackets and Floats. Flotation tubes and rafts are not intended to support your children. To give your child extra protection, explore the U.S. Coast Guard website for information on personal flotation devices.
Lifeguards. At community pools, take note of the lifeguard stations and ask how many lifeguards are on-site. But do not rely on the lifeguards. Watch your own children.
Explain the Safety Rules to Your Child. Explain the rules of pool safety often to your child so they understand your priority is to keep them safe.
Not a Parent? If you are not a parent, listen to what your friends or relatives are telling their children. Be aware of their concerns and try to help create a safe pool environment. Continue reading