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Even if you’re not a football fan, the suicide of NFL legend Junior Seau is shocking and tragic.  Here was a guy who had it all and was regarded as one of the greatest of all time.  As soon as I heard it was suicide the first thing that came to my mind was that another athlete’s life was destroyed because of post-concussion syndrome.

I don’t have a son who plays high school football but I have many friends who do and I worry greatly about their future.  Many have already had several concussions and probably many more have had concussions and played through it because they didn’t want to tell their coach.

While coaches at the high school level are becoming more aware of the serious nature of multiple concussions, it’s still a problem when kids are being pushed to “win at all costs.”

Athletes who suffer a concussion and return before being cleared by a physician have a greater risk for Second-Impact Syndrome, a rare but catastrophic brain injury in which an athlete who has suffered a concussion incurs further brain trauma before symptoms associated with the initial concussion have cleared. About 50% of athletes die after suffering SIS and the rest suffer life-long impairments.

Parents, coaches and the players themselves must not only recognize the signs of a concussion but take the necessary steps in treating the concussion, even if that means taking the star player out of the most important game. Athletic programs in many of our schools are so competitive that coaches and the athletes themselves are willing to take serious health risks for the sake of the game. This attitude must stop and parents need to play a big part in changing this.

The Centers for Disease Control offers free downloadable information for coaches, parents and athletes on preventing, recognizing and responding to a concussion.

According to a recent report, there have already been 37 drowning and 38 near-drowning incidents across the country this year. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is kicking off its Pool Safely: Simple Steps Save Lives campaign, which highlights various water safety tips. One of the most important tips is to never let your child out of your sight when they are near water. But in order to do this, you first need to make sure that the windows and doors in your home are secured to prevent your child from wandering outside without your knowledge.

Many parents underestimate their child’s ability to “escape” from the home silently and quickly. My childproofing company, Safety Mom Solutions Babyproofing, works with clients to create safe zones in the home. These are secured areas where your child will always be in your line of sight. Parents of autistic children should be particularly vigilant in monitoring windows and doors and they tend to wander and be attracted to water – a potentially deadly combination.

Here are a few things to consider:

• Install an automatic door closer and second lock on any doors leading outside.
• Install window stops, window guards or window wedges on all windows to prevent them from being opened more than 4″ from the bottom.
• Install a slider door lock on any patio door leading out to a pool or hot tub.
• Consider installing sensors on all windows and doors so you will be alerted when one is opened.
• Don’t forget about “doggy doors.” An average size 3 year-old can crawl through a standard size doggy door.

Safety Mom Solutions Babyproofing provides home safety consultations and will install the safest child safety products available. We service Fairfield, CT, Westchester, NY, New York City and Long Island.

By The Safety Mom

This past weekend my step-daughter got sidelined from her soccer play-offs due to a concussion. I have to say I wasn’t upset. I mean, I was upset about the concussion but not about her getting side-lined. She is one of the star players and this was an important game and I was more concerned that her over-zealous coach would consider allowing her to play regardless of her injury.

School athletic programs have become crazy. I remember school athletics used to be important when I was growing up but it seems to have gone to an entire new level. Kids are told by their coaches and even parents that their performance is critical for getting into the right school, even landing the right job (yes, I actually heard a mother say this!)

And now that play-off season is here for many school athletic programs, the local rivalries have kicked into high gear. I spent my weekend cheering on the un-defeated 4th grade football team that my daughter cheers for. But, as many mother’s used to say, “It’s fun until someone gets hurt!”

Concussions are a serious concern for athletes at any age but in young people they often-times go unreported and multiple concussions can lead to serious complications later in life. We now know that it is unsafe for any athlete to return-to-play the same day they have suffered a concussion, and it is recommended that every athlete not return-to-play until they have been cleared by an appropriate medical professional. Athletes who do return early are at risk for Second-Impact Syndrome, a rare but catastrophic brain injury in which an athlete who has suffered a concussion incurs further brain trauma before symptoms associated with the initial concussion have cleared. About 50% of athletes die after suffering SIS and the rest suffer life-long impairments.

Parents, coaches and the players themselves must not only recognize the signs of a concussion but take the necessary steps in treating the concussion, even if that means taking the star player out of the most important game. Athletic programs in many of our schools are so competitive that coaches and the athletes themselves are willing to take serious health risks for the sake of the game. This attitude must stop and parents need to play a big part in changing this.Parent coaches in particular need to lead the way.

USA Football, the sport’s national governing body on youth and amateur levels, is conducting a national campaign through Nov. 29 titled “Put Pride Aside for Player Safety” to emphasize concussion awareness in youth sports, particularly football. The campaign is promoted in partnership with the NFL and its 32 teams as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

“Put Pride Aside for Player Safety” challenges and instructs coaches, parents and youth players to make the right decision when a concussion is suspected, which is to remove an athlete from play the day of the injury and not allow him or her to return until a medical professional deems the athlete symptom-free and gives clearance for a return to play.Endowed by the NFL Youth Football Fund, USA Football offers innovative resources through its 80-plus training events and usafootball.com to ensure a positive football experience. The Indianapolis-based independent non-profit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its 32 teams and the NFL Players Association.

It’s vital that parents recognize the serious issue of concussions in young athletes leading to traumatic brain injury. Both coaches and parents need to be aware of the problems that can arise when an athlete is put back in the game before he or she is ready. ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the first, most-widely used, and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system that many towns are now using.

Additionally, the Centers For Disease Control offers free downloadable information for coaches, parents and athletes on preventing, recognizing and responding to a concussion. 

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant. 

By The Safety Mom

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Our vacation is off to a great start! I have to say, finding your way to Lancaster, PA isn’t the easiest – thank goodness for the GPS in the Toyota Sienna! But once we found the Willow Valley Inn and Resort the kids were in heaven! There are both indoor and outdoor pools with a game room attached, Spencer and Wyatt were in heaven! And, Kelsey’s favorite part was the smorgasbord and all you can eat salad bar (yes, she’s my healthy one!). We were all excited once we found the bakery downstairs with the most incredible cookies and pastries. There’s even a golf course and a beautiful pond and playground. Also, the staff is extremely welcoming and available to answer any questions. I quickly realized that the kids would be completely happy just staying here and not even going to Dutch Wonderland but I’m so glad we did get over there.

Dutch Wonderland is the perfect amusement park for the younger set. All of the rides are geared to toddler up to twelve years of age. The park is incredibly clean, easy to navigate and tons of fun rides! If it’s your first time it’s probably good to start out with the train ride around the park to get your bearings first. Yesterday was pretty hot so all of the kids voted for the Duke’s Lagoon first which was the perfect choice! There’s enough water activity to keep kids entertained all day and it gave Greg and me a chance to relax a bit in the shade. There are tons of lifeguards working the area which made me feel quite safe. I have to say it was so wonderful to see my kids laughing and having so much fun. I also like that it’s pay one price so that you don’t have to worry about tickets and the kids can ride as often as they like. Kelsey tried to set a record on the Ripcord by riding it 7 times in a row! If you have a child with special needs, the park has opportunities for you to go to the head of the line if there are crowds and will work with you to make sure your child has a great experience. Dutch Wonderland is a great value and experience for families.

And Kelsey, aka The Safety Daughter, also had an opportunity to interview Sir Xavier, the knight at Dutch Wonderland who’s all about safety!

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.

By The Safety Mom

Today was my daughter’s last day of school and now the countdown for our summer vacation to Lancaster, PA and Hershey Park  has really begun!  Kelsey heard rumors from her friends that there are bags of chocolate in every room at The Hershey Hotel.  Not sure if that’s true or not, but I’m hoping so as well. 

One of the things I am particularly happy about is there are lots of things to do at the hotel as well as the park so that if I need a bit of R&R, there are still activities to keep all of us happy.  The new outdoor pool complex will definitely fit the bill!  There’s an adult pool with infinity edge and whirlpool, family pool with zero-grade entry, two large slides, and a kiddie spray deck.   

Of course all I’ve been talking about is the cocoa facial I’ve scheduled for myself!  And as much as Kelsey wants one, I have told her this is mommy time! 

You can check out all of the incredible spa services that Hershey offers HERE.  

I guess that I will need to give Greg a little time off as well, so I told him he could bring his golf clubs because I’ve heard they have an amazing golf courses.  For those of you golf enthusiasts, you can check it out HERE.  

But without a doubt, the part Spencer, my birthday boy is looking forward to most is HERSHEY’S Really Big 3-D Show and Create Your Own Candybar – how cool is that?! 

So stay tuned for some more yummy news and photos live from Hershey next week.

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.

This time next week I’ll be with my family down in Lancaster, PA – www.padutchcountry.com.  Somehow, even though I grew up in New York, I never took a family vacation there.  Quite frankly, I didn’t really know that they had much to offer.  Boy was I wrong! 

I’ve been working with some of the people from the tourism department and they’ve been great at helping me plan this vacation out (which right now is feeling partially like a precise military operation!).  Trying to please kids with a wide range of interests is not always easy but there really seems to be something for everyone!  A few of the attractions I plan on seeing are Dutch Wonderland Amusement Park, the Strasburg Rail Road, and The Amish Village.  My kids are already teasing me asking if I’m really going to milk a cow as a Farmer’s Apprentice at Verdant View Farm (hmmm..).   I’m not sure we’re going to make it there but the Lancaster Science Factory sounds really cool as well.   We could have just spent an entire week in Lancaster! 

Lancaster also seems to be a great deal (that was one of the criteria for this trip – finding safe and affordable activities!) It turns out that many of the attractions offer adult tickets under $15 and some even less than $10!  Youth tickets are even cheaper, about half to two-thirds the cost of an adult ticket.

My kids are fascinated by The Amish Village.  Trying to explain that yes, there are teens that don’t have iPods, Game Boys or cell phones, completely amazes them!

As I mentioned, I’ll be shooting photo and Flip Videos the entire way – so stay tuned!  A photo of me milking a cow will definitely be priceless!

Right now, there’s also some great promotions running for Lancaster: 

  • Sight & Sound Theatre:  book a two or more night stay from 6/1 to 9/2 at a participating lodging property through the PA Dutch CVB Reservation Center and receive a Family 4-pack of tickets to Joseph at Sight & Sound (2 adults & 2 children ages 3-18) for just an additional $99! (A savings of up to $71) 
  • Hersheypark or Dutch Wonderland:  book a two or more night stay from 5/28 to 9/5 at a participating lodging property through the PA Dutch CVB Reservation Center and receive two adult tickets for Hersheypark at a discounted rate that’s nearly 20% off the regular price, or the same for Dutch Wonderland that’s 6% off the regular price. 

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.   Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant. 

By The Safety Mom

I was sitting at O’Hare airport last night when a man turned to me with his computer and said, “Would you let your 16 year-old sail around the world alone?” I thought he was joking. Then he showed me the headlines.

Ah yes, another subject for my parenting hall of fame. OK, here’s my rant – WHAT IDIOT ALLOWS THEIR 16 YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER TO SAIL AROUND THE WORLD ALONE?!?!

Apparently the answer is Marianne and Laurence Sunderland of Thousand Oaks, CA. The conversation must have gone one of two ways: Abby, the 16 year-old came up to her parents one morning and declared that she was bored with school. “Hey mom and dad,” she must have said, “how about I leave for a while and sail around the world? I’ll keep my curfew every night on board and this will be just as good an education as going to school.” Now what parent wouldn’t say yes to that?

Or, scenario 2 – Like the “Bubble Boy” case in CO where the parents wanted to get some attention for a potential reality show for themselves, the Sunderland’s thought, “Hey, Abby’s got a good head on her shoulders. Sure she’s only 16 but I’m sure she’ll be OK by herself in the middle of the ocean for however long. And, if she makes it, we could probably get on The Amazing Race with her!”

Yesterday Abby was reported missing but thank God she’s been found alive in the Indian Ocean 2,000 miles from either Australia or Africa without a mast or rigging. The nearest search and rescue ship is at least 30 hours away from her position but she sent a radio signal that “she was fine.”

Meanwhile, mom, dad and her six siblings sit awaiting word of her fate.

Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area. Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.

This weekend really marked the end of the school year for me.  It was my daughters’ dance recitals, the culmination of an exciting year for them.  I was, without a doubt, the proud mama sitting in the front row with tears in my eyes.  My fiancée is already worried that if I was this stressed out over a 4 year-old and 7 year-old’s dance recital what I’ll be like at their weddings (I can only imagine!)

But now, I can start concentrating on what we’ve been all talking about for the past two months – our summer vacation to Hershey Park www.hersheypark.com! I’ve never been, but none of us can imagine a more perfect vacation than one that includes tons of chocolate!  

How does the saying go – “getting there is half the fun?”  Well, with five kids in the car I’m not sure about that!  Yes, we will be travelling with five kids ranging from 11 down to 4 for a four hour car ride.  That’s one of the reasons I selected Hershey Park, it didn’t require me paying for 7 airline tickets.  Let’s face it, we all want to save money and a summer vacation is not an inexpensive proposition.  I also wanted to design a vacation that we could all enjoy.  Another thing that I like about Hershey Park is that they put some older kids’ rides next to ones for my littlest so we don’t have to split up.  And, I was concerned about whether this would be a good vacation for Spencer, my oldest who has intellectual disabilities.  We will be celebrating his 12th birthday while we’re there so I wanted this trip to be something extremely special but also safe.  I spoke with people at Hershey and was really impressed with how seriously they take park safety.

So, I’ve decided to bring my community along for my summer vacation (not sure how I’ll pile all of you into my Toyota Sienna!)  I’m going to be chronicalling my entire road trip and time at Hershey Park and Lancaster, PA www.padutchcountry.com.  (more on that to come!)  I will broadcast my radio show, Keeping It Together With Alison, The Safety Mom, www.safetymom.com  live from Hershey Park on Wednesday, June 23rd.  And, my kids will be getting in on the action and doing some Flip Video’s (www.theflip.com) to post on my YouTube Safety Mom Channel as well as my blog.  And, I’m going to be doing a Twitter party with some great tips on how to have a safe, fun and affordable vacation.

So, stay tuned over the next few weeks as I start gearing up for our vacation.  I’ll be providing some ideas on road trip safety, how to safeguard a hotel room, what to look for in an amusement park and other tips on keeping the entire family healthy and happy this summer!

 Alison Rhodes is the founder of Safety Mom Enterprises and Safety Mom Solutions, the premier baby proofing and child safety company in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area.  Alison is a family safety expert, TV personality and consultant.