Awareness: December, 2015

Note: For past issues of our MIRACLE Awareness pages and topics, visit our archives.

Throughout the year, government agencies and private organizations emphasize a list of medical conditions and safety awareness observances. MIRACLE Online Books does not cover every health and safety awareness observance, and nothing we discuss here is comprehensive. What we attempt to do every month is focus on one or two safety or health observances, and then list the other events we found along with hyperlinks to the associated web pages.

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The organization of this page falls into three main areas. The first area addresses month-long events and highlights one cause with a short article on its significance. Immediately following that discussion, a bulleted list allows you to scan through the other month-long events for more information. The second area of this page focuses on week-long events and contains a shorter discussion on one event along with a table of the other events in that category. The final section lists day-long events in a table and provides links to the relevant web pages.

The information on this page is dynamic. It changes every month and potentially during the weeks and days between. Consequently, we encourage you to come back often and see what's new.

Awareness Campaigns this Month

In December, we take time to celebrate a variety of religious observances, holiday traditions, and festive gatherings. Friends, colleagues, and families change pace, reorder priorities, and focus on giving. December can be characterized as a season of warmth, generosity, and kindness. It is the season of light.

Our focus this month is safe toys for children. You can find a full discussion of this observance under the heading Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Party attendance ramps up throughout December, and a number of safety issues emerge as a result. One of the more prominent concerns is impaired driving, which is the focus of National Drunk and Drugged Driving Month.

Safe Toys and Gifts Month

December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Another variation of this observance is Safe Toys and Celebrations Month. If you are shopping for Christmas or other holidays this month, it is important to consider the safety of the children on your shopping list. Purchases that seem perfect may include safety risks for small children, but they are sometimes hard to identify.

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One of the most common risks is toys with small, removable parts. Infants and toddlers may disassemble these parts or destroy them, and then attempt to swallow them. While it is easy to see that such a scenario could lead to a chocking hazard, it may not be as obvious which toys pose the greatest danger. According to HealthTradition, "If the piece can fit inside a toilet paper roll, it is not appropriate for kids under age three."1

Closely related to small parts are sharp objects that may be spring loaded or may fly off toys like projectiles. These parts are an eye-safety risk. Toys with sharp edges may also result in cuts or lacerations. Sharp edges are sometimes hard to detect. On the store shelf, a toy may look fine. All its edges are smooth, and nothing sharp stands out. When a child breaks the toy, however, broken pieces become an immediate hazard. For small children, buy toys that are nearly impossible to crush, pull apart, or break.

Another concern is the construction materials. Children put toys in their mouths, and the materials in them may lead to health issues. For example, lead poising is still a concern. If you plan to pass along a toy that has been in the family since before 1976, the paint may be lead based. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), lead may also be a risk factor in plastic toys:

The use of lead in plastics has not been banned. Lead softens the plastic and makes it more flexible so that it can go back to its original shape. It may also be used in plastic toys to stabilize molecules from heat. When the plastic is exposed to substances such as sunlight, air, and detergents the chemical bond between the lead and plastics breaks down and forms dust.2

Along with the information presented here, you can reduce risk by inspecting and buying toys that meet the following criteria:

  • Includes safety inspection labels3
  • Does not include ropes, cords, or heating elements
  • Does not contain toxic materials: i.e., crayons, markers, and other art supplies
  • Does not contain button batteries or magnets
  • Includes protective gear (for sports equipment)
  • Intact and undamaged

Before you purchase a toy, consider whether it is age appropriate. Toy makers often list age ranges on the packaging of their products. Be sure also, to read any warnings and instructions that come with the toy, and then show your child how to use it safely. For additional guidelines, see the Prevent Blindness Safe toy checklist. Remember to shop with safety in mind when you buy toys for you children.

References

1HealthTradition: With Mayo Clinic Health System. December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Retrieved on November 27, 2015 from https://www.healthtradition.com/december-is-safe-toys-and-gifts-month/.

2Toys. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on November 30, 2015 from http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/toys.htm.

3An important inspection label is the American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM).

Other Health Awareness Campaigns this Month

December is a month full of celebrations. For that reason, we did not find many health and safety observances, but this month includes the following safety and health issues:

Awareness Campaigns by Week

December is a long month with several holidays and a new year at the end. If you are looking for ways to give, the opportunities are endless. One way to give is to go in for your vaccinations. December 6-12, this year, is National Influenza Vaccination Week. Influenza, commonly called the flu, is one of the most common and preventable diseases. The flu vaccine will either eliminate the chance of infection, reduce it, or limit the effects of the virus. Staying immunized is a giving act, because it helps protect everyone around you.

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December 6-12 is also National Handwashing Awareness Week, and that is another way to give. Regular hand washing is not the exclusive domain of food preparers and medical professionals. It is a good practice for everyone. Anything that is on your hands when you touch a surface or another human being may be left behind. What is on our hands is not always visible, and subsequent physical contact is one of the primary paths for the spread of disease. The best strategy for fighting the spread of microbes and harmful materials is regular, thorough hand washing.

Acts of prevention are a form of giving. Whether you stay current with your vaccinations or wash your hands regularly, you are giving good health to everyone around you. Table 1 lists the week-long campaigns recognized during the remainder of this month:

 
Week Observance or campaign
Table 1: Health and Safety Awareness Campaigns by Week
6-12 National Influenza Vaccination Week
6-12 National Handwashing Awareness Week
7-11 Older Driver Safety Awareness Week (American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.)

Awareness Campaigns by Day

December is full of celebrations, and you can spread the joy by getting involved. We would like to highlight three special days that relate to children's health: World AIDS Day, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and the Jingle Bell Run-Walk. Table 2 lists the daily campaigns recognized during the remainder of this month:

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Table 2 lists the daily campaigns recognized during the remainder of this month:

Day Observance or campaign
Table 2: Health and Safety Awareness Campaigns by day
1 Giving Tuesday (Prevent Blindness)
World AIDS Day
Giving Tuesday (Prevent Blindness)
3 International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Check Toys for Lead (CDC)
National Day of Remembrance (Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Virginia); other state observances
5-19 Jingle Bell Run-Walk (Arthritis Foundation); dates and locations
10 Human Rights Day
14 Ten Tips for a Healthier Holiday
17 Appoint a Designated Driver
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