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Summer Safety Tips for Students

Event sponsored by Children's Hospital draws 1000 first-graders 


Children's Hospital Central California once again sponsored Air GeorgeMay Day! May Day! Have a Safe and Healthy Summer – a fun and educational event held at Chukchansi Park designed to teach summer safety to first-graders. Mary Jo Quintero, prehospital liaison nurse in the emergency department (ED) at Children’s and water safety program coordinator for the Kohl’s Water Safety program, organized the 8th annual safety fair. Quintero, together with hundreds of volunteers, made learning an adventure.

Nursing students from Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts served as escorts, guiding students around the ballpark. “They’ve been extremely helpful for two years now,” said Quintero. “The kids just love the nursing students in their blue uniforms, and I don’t know what I’d do without them.”

In addition to escorting students from elementary schools throughout the region, several nursing students hosted a first-aid booth. “We brought all our students out here,” said Joni Green, assistant program coordinator, Gurnick Academy. “There are no classes today, but our students get a lot out of this experience.”

Several new booths dotted the landscape of 2013 exhibits, including a hand hygiene booth sponsored by Team NICU – a group of nurses from the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital.

Hand Hygiene

“Do you know what happens when you don’t cover your mouth when you sneeze?” asked Denise Rippert, registered nurse, NICU. Before the first-graders could answer, another nurse pretended to sneeze loudly and showered them with confetti. Shocked faces erupted into giggles as the brightly colored pieces of foil came to rest on the children’s hair and clothing.

Hand Hygiene“We have a good group in the NICU,” said Rippert. “We were excited about coming here today. It’s our first year to have a booth and it’s going really well.”

Rippert soaked a nontoxic, yellow highlighter overnight in a large jug of bubble solution, placed the solution in a bubble-making machine, sent dozens of bubbles into the air and asked the children to try to catch them. The kids swatted, grabbed and clapped, popping them with great satisfaction.

“Do you see the bubbles now?” asked Rippert.

“No!” the first-graders sang out.

“Germs are the same way,” said the nurse. “You can’t see them but they’re there.” Rippert directed the students to hold their hands under a black light, where they could see a mysterious yellow substance on their hands. The children walked away with hand stamps, a bundle of crayons and coloring pages, and a better understanding of the importance of clean hands.

Injury Prevention

Kristina Pasma, charge nurse, ED, Children’s Hospital, attended the event to support two young nurses from the ED who created new booths for the event. Both were concerned with certain preventable injuries common to childhood: foreign bodies and dog safety.

The Foreign Bodies booth featured X-ray images of various household items lodged in the throat or lungs. The booth also contained several items frequently placed by youngsters into their ears, noses and mouths, and the tools doctors use to recover those foreign bodies.

The Dog Safety booth displayed a poster showing the right and wrong ways to approach a dog. The poster also contained pictures of behaviors exhibited by anxious dogs, an indication that children should stay away.

Mounted patrolAlongside the new booths stood a familiar ED exhibit: helmet safety. A nurse held up a bright-red helmet emblazoned with the Fresno Fire Department logo on each side and told the children they could get one just like it for free at any fire station in Fresno as supply permits.

Another fun, teachable moment for the first-graders took place behind a parked SUV. A 16-foot-long, narrow “spot-the-tot” carpet behind the vehicle was marked with a yellow dash every two feet. The children were asked to sit on the carpet in the spot they thought the SUV driver could see them. Students discovered they were invisible unless sitting farther than 16 feet away.

“Never play behind a car,” they were warned. “And always remember to hug a tree when your mom or dad backs up. They won’t hit you even if they don’t see you because they wouldn’t back into a tree.”

Water Safety

Douglas Lazo, flotilla commander, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, told the children to wear personal flotation devices (PFDs) approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. “That’s the only way to be sure your PFD meets our standards for personal safety,” he said. “And make sure you get the right size.”

Water safety displayLazo stressed another point regarding water safety. “If there’s anything you learn from me today besides wearing a PFD, it’s riptides,” he said. “Even our strong Coast Guard swimmers can be swept under by a riptide. Don’t try to swim against it. It’s better to put your legs up and your arms out and ride it out on your back. Go with the flow of the riptide and eventually it will take you to shore.”

Lazo pointed out that canals also have riptides, but they do not lead to shore. “If you get caught in a riptide, put your legs up and arms out and try to grab something,” he said. “Canals are very dangerous. The water is cold and you could get something called hypothermia. It tires you out and you could drown.”

A nearby booth gave children an opportunity to experience what extremely cold water does to their mobility. They plunged their hands into a bucket of ice water momentarily and then tried to grab a small item at the bottom of the bucket. The children discovered their dexterity was inhibited, and learned they would experience the same problem if attempting to swim in a canal.

Toni Munoz, chair of the Water Safety Council of Fresno County, also taught the children important water safety rules. “How many of you know how to swim?” she asked the group of children who had stopped at her booth. Most raised their hands. “Now, keep your hand up only if you’ve had swimming lessons.” Several children dropped their arms. “Just because you know how to swim doesn’t mean you know about water safety,” said Munoz, who taught them several lifesaving rules.

Check presentationLater Munoz joined Quintero and Theresa Milavich, community recreation supervisor, City of Fresno, for a check presentation. Morris Garcia, author of Henry the Tractor, pledged $1 from the sale of each book to Children's Hospital. His recent $1,000 contribution, designated to theBarrett Smades Forrest Drowning Prevention Fund at Children’s Hospital, enabled the Water Safety Council and Children's to donate $2,000 toward scholarships for swimming lessons for lower income, minority children living in southwest and southeast areas of Fresno.

“They know the kids,” said Quintero of Fresno’s parks, after school, recreation and community services department. “They see to it that the money is well invested by awarding the scholarships to the best candidates.”

“We give applications to the staff,” said Milavich. “And ask them to look for children who are helpful around the center and who have parents that will take them to the swimming lessons. Our staff enjoys giving the scholarships to children who frequently visit the center to help out. It’s a way of giving back to them for the help they give us.”

To learn more about other health and safety fairs involving Children’s, contact Mary Jo Quintero at (559) 353-8661 or