Sunday, November 23, 2008

Kids and Pets: CDC Advice for Staying Healthy and Happy

CDC experts caution parents, pediatricians, and veterinarians to be aware of the risks that exotic animals and pets can pose to children. A study released in Pediatrics' October issue outlined the diseases that can be transmitted to children when they come in contact with reptiles, rodents, mammals, birds, amphibians, non-human primates and fish. Many families own non-traditional pets, and children may encounter animals at petting zoos, farms and pet stores. Parents are urged to talk to the family veterinarian or pediatrician to learn how to ensure that their child's experience with animals is both safe and enjoyable.

Diseases and injuries associated with non-traditional pets and wildlife:

Reptiles (e.g., turtles, lizards, snakes, etc.) Salmonella infection
Rodents (e.g., hamsters, rates, mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, squirrels, etc.) Salmonella infection, plague, rabies
Fish Mycobacterium, Aeromonas, Vibrio, Salmonella, and Streptococcus infections
Cattle E. coli infection
Goats Cryptosporidium and E. coli infections, rabies
Baby poultry (e.g., chicks, ducklings, etc.) Salmonella infection
Ferrets Bite injuries

Pediatricians, veterinarians and parents play an important role in preventing animal-related illness.

* Children should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching animals.
* Parents should supervise handwashing for children younger than five years of age.
* Never touch wild animals or bring them home as pets.
* Always supervise children, especially those younger than five, during interaction with animals.
* Children should not be allowed to kiss animals or put their hands or other objects in their mouth after handling animals.
* Pediatricians and veterinarians should advise parents about appropriate pet selection and how to avoid animal-transmitted illnesses.
* Family pets should be kept in good health and vaccinated appropriately.

To read the full text of the article, including expanded lists of animals, diseases, and prevention advice, click here (
More information on this subject can be found at
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Surviving Holiday Shopping with Small Children

Crowded stores, long checkout lines and overworked clerks can make holiday shopping stressful. Add a screaming 2-year-old, a heavy diaper bag and an occasional temper tantrum and shopping becomes nearly impossible. Before calling it quits or hiring a babysitter, consider another approach. With the right plan and mindset, shopping with children is not only "doable" but fun and rewarding, too.

According to Judy McCraw at the Primrose School of Peachtree City taking your child holiday shopping can be a rewarding experience and should be seen as an opportunity to teach and share the spirit of giving.

McCraw offers these tips for holiday shopping with your child:

• Create a plan and stick to it.
Before you leave, make a list of people you plan to buy for and some gift ideas. Don’t get sidetracked and try to do too much at once. Young children have short attention spans and will surely have a meltdown if you take on the whole list in one day. Explain to your child that today, you’re focusing on buying gifts for others. To avoid tantrums, bring paper and a pen to create a “wish list” of things your child may request.

• Be prepared.
Shop early in the morning to avoid crowds and make sure your child is fully rested, clean and well fed before you venture out. Bring a change of clothes, a portable snack and drink, and a small toy to keep them occupied. Never feed your child sugary sweets before shopping. And don’t forget your stroller—it is a good place for tired children to rest. Try to keep trips short and choose stores where you can quickly put a dent into your shopping list.

• Engage children in the process and help them understand the importance of giving.
Talk to your children about what you plan on accomplishing on your shopping trip. Tell them that you’re shopping to find special gifts for people who you love. Share the list of people who you plan to shop for and engage children by allowing them to choose one item, among two or three that you pre-select, to give to that person. Talk to your child about why giving is important and try to find thoughtful gifts that will bring your friends and family joy.

• Keep them safe.
Before heading out to the mall, talk to your child about safety. Carry a cell phone and put the number of the cell phone in the child’s pocket and instruct them to hand the number to a clerk if they are separated from you. Parking lots can be especially congested and dangerous around the holidays, so make sure all small children exit your vehicle on the same side so you can keep a watchful eye. Secure a smaller child in a stroller before getting the other child out. Inside, keep your children close by at all times. Small children are easily distracted by the lights, sounds and excitement of the holiday season.

• Help children experience the season.
Remember the joy and excitement that the holiday season brings to children. Help them fully experience it by finding sidewalk shops where you can hold hands, sing songs and enjoy the decorations, lights and tinsel. Make it truly meaningful by sharing your favorite childhood memories and building in some fun family traditions along the way.

McCraw suggests you bring your camera so you can capture your favorite moments on film. Children won’t remember the presents they received each year but memories of these special times with you will last forever.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Child Safety Handbook Addresses After-School Dangers

(NAPSI)-Regardless of age, whether a child is 6 or 16, it is crucial for parents to discuss safety issues with their children. According to new data released by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), it was found that almost half of nonfamily abduction attempts happen when a child is walking to or from school or a related activity. It was also found that the majority of children affected by abduction attempts are young girls (74 percent) between the ages of 10 and 14 years old.

Free Safety Handbook

To help parents, NCMEC and Duracell have expanded their child safety resources with the addition of a free "Child Safety Handbook."

Because of the different stages of a child's development, the handbook outlines age-appropriate safety tips and scenarios that parents need to be aware of. A sampling of current technologies such as applications of GPS, wireless and Radio Frequency Identification technologies used for child safety precautions are also highlighted.

Here are a few tips from the Power of Parents "Child Safety Handbook":

• Talk to your child. Teach young children their address and telephone number and how to use a telephone. Make sure they know how to handle situations such as adults offering them a ride home.

• Monitor Internet usage and set guidelines for the people they may communicate with. Only with your knowledge and supervision should kids use webcams or post photos online.

• Pay attention to the adults your child interacts with-tutors, coaches, day care providers. Notice when someone shows one or all of your children a great deal of attention or begins giving them gifts.

• Check out the latest technology. Child locator devices with GPS are a popular tool being used in an effort to help keep children safer. These devices range from simple audio units that will emit a high-volume beep until the child is found, to cell phones, watches, shoes, coats and backpacks installed with GPS technology.

The Power of Parents Program offers a variety of important child safety tools at

These include a free downloadable child photo ID guide, seasonal safety tips, a six-month photo ID reminder service, a free children's book designed to help 4- to 6-year-olds understand safety concepts and Teachable Moments Guides.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shop CPSC Toy Safety Tips Before Shopping for Holiday Gifts

The holidays are here and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has its list. Parents and gift buyers are encouraged to check it twice. Today, CPSC issued its annual holiday safety messages, joined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Safe Kids Worldwide, to remind parents to be diligent when making holiday shopping choices.

"CPSC, CBP and industry activity has been with one goal in mind, to keep the toys our children play with the safest in the world" said Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. "Vigorous inspection of toys, testing and law enforcement have made toys the safest this season."

For 2007, the Commission has reports of 18 toy-related deaths and CPSC staff estimates that there were about 170,100 hospital emergency-room treated toy-related injuries to children under 15. Most of the deaths were associated with airway obstruction from small toys, drowning, or motor vehicle accidents during play. Most of the injuries were lacerations, contusion and abrasions; the head and face was the area most frequently affected.

The top 5 toy hazards:

* Scooters and other Riding Toys - Riding toys, skateboards and in-line skates go fast and falls could be deadly. Helmets and safety gear should be worn at all times and be sized to fit.

* Small Balls and other Toys with Small Parts - For children younger than age three, avoid toys with small parts, which can cause choking.

* Balloons - Children under eight yrs. can choke or suffocate on un-inflated or broken balloons. Keep un-inflated balloons from children. Discard broken balloons at once.

* Magnets - For children under age six, avoid building or play sets with small magnets. If magnets or pieces with magnets are swallowed, serious injuries and/or death can occur.

* Chargers and Adapters - Charging batteries should be supervised by adults. Chargers and adapters can pose thermal burn hazards to children.

Once the gifts are open:

* Immediately discard plastic wrappings on toys before they become dangerous play things.

* Keep toys appropriate for older children away from younger siblings.

* Pay attention to instructions and warnings on battery chargers. Some chargers lack any device to prevent overcharging.

With the increased popularity of second-hand stores and on-line vendors, gift-givers should be especially vigilant to prevent the sale or purchase of hazardous products that have been recalled, banned or do not meet current safety standards. Before placing products in the second-hand market, check its recall status at Buyers should make sure their gifts do not include any of the recalled toys or children's products on CPSC's web site.

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Young Gardeners Grow Paramount Pumpkins

Photo: For the past two years, Matthew Adams of Carroll, Co., has won the Georgia 4-H Pumpkin Growing Contest. This year's 468-pound pumpkin came in lighter than the record-setting 580.8-pound pumpkin (shown) he grew last year.

Matthew Adams made Georgia 4-H history last year when he won the organization’s statewide annual pumpkin contest with a record-setting 580.8-pound pumpkin. He didn’t break his record this year, but he still got first place.

Adams, a 4-H’er from Carroll County, grew a 468-pound pumpkin to win the Georgia 4-H Pumpkin Growing Contest. Second place went to Hannah Brown of Henry County. She grew a 340-pound pumpkin. Terrell County 4-H’er Caroline Daniel won third place with her 323-pound pumpkin.

Knowledge, pride and prizesFor the past two decades, the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association has sponsored the contest. First place gets $100. Second and third receive $50 and $25 respectively. Each of the 38 4-H’ers who entered the contest received a contest t-shirt.

To enter, a 4-H’er must grow the pumpkin and have it weighed by the local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agent. Any variety of pumpkin may be used. But to bring in the big numbers, varieties like Atlantic Giant, Big Max, Big Moon, Prizewinner and Connecticut Field are recommended. All of this year’s winners grew the Atlantic Giant.

“The 4-H’er needs at least 120 days to grow the pumpkin to full size,” said Lindsey Fodor, a Georgia 4-H program assistant and the contest’s coordinator. “We also recommend they refer to growing tips provided by UGA Extension horticulturist Terry Kelley.”

The number of entries was down this year due to the state’s drought, she said.

Watermelons, tooThe goal of the contest is to get Georgia students interested in agriculture and in growing their own crops, Fodor said.

Due to the heat, it can be tough to grow pumpkins in south Georgia. To give 4-H’ers there a chance to grow competition-size fruit, the Georgia 4-H Watermelon Growing Contest was established three years ago.

Information about the pumpkin and watermelon contests, including photos of the past winners, can be found on the Web at
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Georgia Aquarium to Introduce New "Toothy" Sharks

Sand Tiger Sharks to Debut by Thanksgiving

Georgia Aquarium is excited to announce the arrival of six new sand tiger sharks. The sharks are currently located at the Aquarium’s offsite quarantine facility and will be introduced into the Ocean Voyager gallery built by The Home Depot before Thanksgiving.

The three male and three female sharks will go into the 6.3 million gallon habitat alongside the whale sharks and manta ray. The new sharks range from five to more than eight feet in length and weigh between 56 and 237 pounds.

“These sharks are big and display a mouthful of sharp teeth, so we know that they will become a new guest favorite,” said Mike Leven, CEO of Georgia Aquarium. “Even though they are scary looking to some, we are excited to introduce them to our guests as the docile species they are, and spread the word on their declining numbers due to overfishing.”

The sand tiger shark (Carcharias taurus) is listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. The sand tiger shark is caught for human consumption, as well as for fishmeal and liver oil, and the fins are used for leather production. The species has the lowest reproductive rate among sharks, giving birth every two years to one or two pups after a gestation period of 9 to 12 months.

According to an independent Harris Poll, 17% of men and 13% of women said that sharks were their favorite aquatic animal. The Georgia Aquarium currently houses whale sharks, zebra sharks, black-tip reef sharks, tasseled wobbegongs, great hammerhead, bonnethead sharks, bamboo sharks, brown-banded bamboo sharks, white-spotted bamboo sharks, epaulette sharks, swell sharks, horn sharks and now sand tiger sharks.

The sand tiger sharks are a part of the Aquarium’s New Every Ninety Program, designed to bring a new animal, exhibit or program to the Aquarium every quarter. In August, the Aquarium introduced the Titanic Aquatic exhibit, which has seen 50,000 visitors, as well as Nandi, the first manta ray in a U.S. Aquarium, to kick-off the New Every Ninety Program.
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