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The internet has proven to be a valuable resource for individuals seeking information. The purpose of the present column is to give an idea of what new parents might encounter when looking for information about how to keep their young children safe from injury. An internet search on this general topic provides a curious mix of subject material. Many of the sites deal with child identification and give advice about preventing child abduction. Some sites focus on locating missing children. There are also sites about protecting children from child abuse and neglect. Even after further refining the search to focus on injuries, parents would have to sort through a mix of sites and pages to secure the needed information.
Parents may find what could be considered ‘traditional’ sources of information, ones that individuals in the health care field might also access for enlightenment. An example is the Children’s Safety Network of the National Injury and Violence Prevention Resource Center <http://www.edc.org/HHD/csn/)>. This Network is located at the Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusetts. Subject materials covered include a listing of injury prevention publications that are available on-line, How to Build Safe Communities, a resource on community-based safety projects, and a link site for other injury prevention resources on the World Wide Web. Another interesting resource is the National Safety Council Accident Facts, which captures the seriousness of the threat of injuries to child health. However, other than providing justification for parent’s concerns about unintentional injury, it does not address the specifics of preventing these occurrences <http://www.nsc.org/lrs/statinfo/>.
Some organizations focus only on one area of child safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association web site provides detailed information about children in motor vehicles <http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/childps/>. There is an excellent section discussing children and air bags. Not only is the issue of disconnecting the front passenger air bag addressed, but there are also safety tips for transporting children safely in vehicles with passenger side air bags. As well, there is a page on how to install child car seats correctly and tips on ensuring compliance on the part of the child while in the motor vehicle. The web site provides a listing of recalled child safety seats in the United States dating back to January 1, 1988. This site may prove interesting to both parents and health care practitioners.
Similarly, specific web sites exist for safety around cycling. In particular, the World Health Organization has a web site dedicated to its helmet initiative <http://www.sph.emory.edu/Helmets/>. Parents may have to wade through a significant amount of information before finding the information they seek. Nevertheless, a keen parent should be able to accomplish the task.
For nostalgia lovers, a familiar childhood figure has his own web site to fight forest fires. The Smokey the Bear web site <http://www.smokeybear.com/> focuses on preventing forest fires and has a series of interactive activities concerning forest fire prevention, building a camp fire correctly and other fire-related issues that that parents and children can complete.
Encouragingly, a few web sites capitalize on a mix of materials produced by authoritative organizations and blend this information with local safety initiatives. The Center for Injury Page Prevention in Wisconsin <http://www.bucklebear.com/> uses products from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) (the safe ride news) coupled with locally relevant information on safety.
A number of sites rather than offering information provide details on programs parents could access to improve their safety knowledge. The Edmonton Safety Council <http://www.freenet.edmonton.ab.ca/esc/> use the internet to describe safety programs including Safety City (which educates kindergarten and grade 1 students about basic rules of traffic and pedestrian safety), bicycle safety training programs and the fire safe house program (designed to teach children what to do in case of a fire in the home).