Monthly Archives: May 2015

Bicycle Helmet Safety

provided by Alberta Health Services EMS; Photo:

Head injuries are a leading cause of serious injury and death to children riding bicycles. Most injuries occur when a cyclist suffers a fall, strikes a stationary object or collides with another cyclist/pedestrian.

Remember – it’s the law in Alberta that cyclists under the age of 18 must wear a helmet (and highly recommended for all ages). Helmets should be CSA approved and worn during recreational activities such as skateboarding, in-line skating or cycling.

 Getting informed

  • Wearing a helmet while cycling can prevent a serious injury, or even save a life.
  • Brain injuries can cause permanent disability or death.
  • Reduce your risk by always wearing your helmet.
  • Replace any helmet that has been involved in a crash, even if it appears undamaged.

Getting started

  • Allow children to assist when buying their helmet. Cyclists who choose their own helmet are more likely to wear them.
  • Start the habit early. Young children learning to ride tricycles need to wear helmets.
  • Parents must lead by example – always wear a helmet when cycling.

Getting the right fit

  • Take the time to properly fit and adjust your helmet to
    ensure maximum protection in case of a crash.
  • When worn properly, helmets should fit level, not tilted up, or down over the forehead.
  • Helmets should feel snug, but not too tight. To test the fit, the helmet should not fall off when you shake your head from side-to-side while the straps are unfastened.
  • Adjust the chin straps to form a ‘Y’ below and slightly forward from the ears.
  • Only one finger should be able to fit under the chin strap when it is fastened.
  • Do not forget to use the sizing pads included with the helmet. They will help improve the overall fit, comfort and safety.

Window & Balcony Safety

Provided by Alberta Health Services EMS; photo:

window safetyWith the return of warmer weather, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) would like to remind parents and caregivers of an often overlooked hazard in the home – open windows.

Every year, paramedics respond to emergencies where a child has fallen from an open window – often from the second floor. Falls such as these are preventable by taking time to assess your home and ensuring windows are safe.

Windows and screens

  • Move furniture such as cribs, beds, stools and change tables away from windows to prevent access to them;
  • Keep drapery cords out of children’s reach. Wrap excess cord around cleats or tie-downs to avoid a choking hazard;
  • Remember: screens are designed to keep bugs out, not to keep children in.


  • Do not underestimate a child’s ability to climb. Furniture and other items stored on balconies and decks can be used to climb resulting in falls over the railing;
  • Consider installing a balcony guard to eliminate access between the vertical bars of a balcony, or deck.

Further prevention tips

  • Children aged one to four are at highest risk of falling from a window or balcony;
  • Direct supervision of children is the single most effective way to prevent falls from windows and balconies;
  • Consider installing safety devices which limit the distance in which a window be can open;
  • Ensure the safety device can be released quickly, so the window can be used for escape in case of fire, or other emergency.

EMS is proud to be a member of the Partners Promoting Window and Balcony Safety. Take time to assess your home for window and balcony hazards and eliminate the risks before a preventable fall occurs. For more information, visit

Making Time for Your Family

by Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell

At Parenting Power, we’ve been talking about time all month. The focus has been on creating time for what is uniquely important to each of us. There is always enough time for what is truly important in our lives. The way to find the time is to recognize what those things are, stop shoulding/hoping/wishing for the time and actually make the time…once a week or once a month or a couple of times a year…whatever can work.

One of the easiest ways to create time in your life is to save yourself from the time-wasters of the world. What are those time-wasters? They are different for everyone.

Maybe your time-waster is searching for your keys every time you put them down (that used to be Julie’s time-waster – she found a bunch of time by deciding to always put her keys in her left hand jacket pocket.) Maybe your time-waster is washing dishes after the food has dried on rather than washing them right away when the food is still easily removed.

Today, we’re asking:

When do you make time for your family?

We have a tool to help you do just that!

A huge parenting time-waster is having the same argument over and over again, or stewing over the tiny parenting issues that just won’t go away. Not only do these two activities eat into a family’s time, they eat into our life-blood. It can feel exhausting to walk, yet again, into an argument that we did yesterday and will do again tomorrow (homework, teeth-brushing, putting shoes away, bedtimes). It feels so disheartening to constantly repeat oneself and know that you are being disrespected and ignored.

One of the easiest ways to fix that nagging parenting itch or stop the recurring argument is the family meeting. This is not rocket-science. It is a simple tool that works.

Family meetings save us from the impossible task of problem-solving in the heat of the moment. They are a way to work together, as a family; to solve problems when the emotions are no longer running the show. The consistency of the family meeting means that there is suddenly time to solve those nagging itches and to change the scripts for the recurring arguments.

We believe that there is more than one right way to parent…and we believe that there is more than one right way to have a family meeting. Find the way that works for your family: whether it is a regular Sunday afternoon discussion, a daily dinner table check-in or a systematic travel-time interaction.

Some key tools:

  • Find a time that will actually work – if it doesn’t work you won’t stick with it
  • Keep the format consistent
  • Let others contribute to the agenda (Gail keeps a piece of paper in her car and one taped to the inside of the kitchen cupboard – when there is a family issue, it goes on the paper and her family knows that it will be handled at the next family meeting – it is off her mind and on the paper.)
  • Believe in your kids abilities to solve the problems – kids are creative and capable.

Lao Tzu wrote, in the Tao Te Ching (2500 years ago),

“Act before things exist; manage them before there is disorder…The small is easily scattered.”

Family meetings allow us to do exactly this. When we have a regularly planned time and system for discussing problems when they first appear, we manage them before they become big family challenges. The energy and stress of arguing and feeling disrespected becomes available for other things. We are creating time for our family.

This week: What will your family meeting look like? Ask 4 simple questions of the family:

  1. What worked well in our family this week?
  2. What didn’t work well in our family this week?
  3. What do we need to change?
  4. How do we change it?

Julie and Gail are the founders of Parenting Power. They provide parents with strategies to become confident, capable and calm. Check out more great tips at