social media Facebook Youtube Twitter Foursquare Flickr Subcribe to our newsletter:

Happy ‘Safe’ Holidays
12.21.2012 [New Moms & Dads]

The holiday season is fun, exciting and a magical time for children, no matter what holiday your family celebrates. Nothing ruins a good time like an accident so The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a list of safety tips to ensure a safe holiday season.


  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.”
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break. The trunk butt of a fresh tree is sticky with resin, and when tapped on the ground, the tree should not lose many needles.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators or portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.


  • Check all tree lights-even if you’ve just purchased them-before hanging them on your tree. Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use. To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples, not nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.


  • Use only non-combustible or flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel or artificial icicles of plastic or nonleaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked over.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable. Keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to prevent them from swallowing or inhaling small pieces. Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
  • Wear gloves to avoid eye and skin irritation while decorating with spun glass “angel hair.” Follow container directions carefully to avoid lung irritation while decorating with artificial snow sprays.
  • Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.

Toy Safety

  • Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child. Toys too advanced may pose safety hazards for younger children.
  • Before buying a toy or allowing your child to play with a toy that he has received as a gift, read the instructions carefully.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don’t give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age three cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
  • Children can have serious stomach and intestinal problems – including death — after swallowing button batteries and magnets. In addition to toys, button batteries are often found in musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids and other small electronics. Keep them away from young children and call your health care provider immediately if your child swallows one.
  • Children can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons; do not allow children under age 8 to play with them.
  • Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches in length. They could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
  • Parents should store toys in a designated location, such as on a shelf or in a toy chest, and keep older kids’ toys away from young children.

Food Safety

  • Bacteria are often present in raw foods. Fully cook meats and poultry, and thoroughly wash raw vegetables and fruits.
  • Be sure to keep hot liquids and foods away from the edges of counters and tables, where they can be easily knocked over by a young child’s exploring hands. Be sure that young children cannot access microwave ovens.
  • Wash your hands frequently, and make sure your children do the same.
  • Never put a spoon used to taste food back into food without washing it.
  • Always keep raw foods and cooked foods separately, and use separate utensils when preparing them.
  • Always thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the countertop.
  • Foods that require refrigeration should never be left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Happy Visiting

  • Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
  • Remember that the homes you visit may not be childproofed. Keep an eye out for danger spots like unlocked cabinets, unattended purses, accessible cleaning or laundry products, stairways, or hot radiators.
  • Keep a list with all of the important phone numbers you or a baby-sitter are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, your pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line, 1-800-222-1222. Laminating the list will prevent it from being torn or damaged by accidental spills.
  • Traveling, visiting family members, getting presents, shopping, etc., can all increase your child’s stress levels. Trying to stick to your child’s usual routines, including sleep schedules and timing of naps, can help you and your child enjoy the holidays and reduce stress.


  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers, and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with “fire salts,” which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten. Keep them away from children.
  • Do not burn gift wrap paper in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.

‘Tis the season… to get your flu shot!
12.21.2012 | SMH Extra

No one wants to be sick over the holidays. But this year’s flu season has started early, and experts say it could be a bad one. “This is the earliest regular flu season we’ve had in nearly a decade, since the 2003-2004 flu season,” CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said during a recent press conference. […]

Hybrid OR – The Future of Surgery
12.20.2012 | Campus Improvements

At a recent sneak peek of Sarasota Memorial’s new “hybrid” operating room, the hospital’s new Chief of Cardiovascular Surgery Jeffrey Sell, MD, spoke with Michael Argenziano, MD, Cardiac Surgery Section Chief at Columbia University Medical Center.  Dr. Sell’s experience and skills will be integral to the heart team as Sarasota Memorial prepares to open the […]

Talking to Children About Tragedy
12.17.2012 | New Moms & Dads

For many of us this is a personal and emotional topic. For my family, we have much family in Staten Island, NY, which was recently devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The horrific school shooting in Connecticut has spurred many questions and anxiety from my kindergartner. Of course, lots of hugs and kisses provide comfort but they […]

Human donor milk in NICU
12.12.2012 | New Moms & Dads

Human milk is the very best medicine for human babies, but it is particularly important for preterm or sick babies.  Mother’s own milk is always best but if it is not available or there is not enough, the next best feeding option is pasteurized, banked human donor milk.  The SMH Neonatal Intensive Care Unit received […]

Don’t let a phobia take control of your life – Get help
12.11.2012 | Uncategorized

Remember Howard Hughes’s germ phobia? He was a billionaire, aviator, movie producer and business tycoon who spent most of his life trying to avoid germs. His phobia forced him into reclusiveness and in 1976 he died very much alone. A phobia is actually a type of anxiety disorder. It is an irrational fear of something […]

Want to stay well? Here’s a simple way
12.04.2012 | Wellness

It’s National Hand Washing Awareness Week – the perfect time to make hand washing a regular part of your routine if it isn’t already! According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands. Regular hand washing can prevent not only […]

Refreshed and Refurbished
12.03.2012 | Campus Improvements

The six-month renovation of the hospital’s fourth floor Windows Cafeteria is all but complete, just a few finishing touches to go. Local general contractor LEI Construction performed the upgrades as part of Sarasota Memorial’s overall campus improvement project, including the new Courtyard Tower scheduled to open in 2013. The cafeteria, which currently serves 5,000 customers […]