Author Archives: Dominique Ortiz

WINTER DRIVING TIPS

Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for travelers. Winter storms, bad weather and sloppy road conditions are a factor in nearly half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Drivers should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. AAA urges drivers to be cautious while driving in adverse weather.

AAA recommends the following tips while driving in snowy and icy conditions:

Cold Weather Driving Tips

  • Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear in your car, such as extra food and water, warm clothing, a flashlight, a glass scraper, blankets, medications, and more.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
  • Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow.

Tips for Driving in the Snow

  • Stay home. Only go out if necessary. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.
  • Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

Tips for Long-Distance Winter Trips

  • Be Prepared: Have your vehicle checked by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility before hitting the road.
  • Check the Weather: Check the weather along your route and when possible, delay your trip if bad weather is expected.
  • Stay Connected: Before hitting the road, notify others and let them know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival.
  • If you get stuck in the snow:
    • Stay with your vehicle: Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
    • Don’t over exert yourself: When digging out your vehicle, listen to your body and stop if you become tired.
    • Be Visible: Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
    • Clear the Exhaust Pipe: Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the engine is running.
    • Stay Warm: Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. Pre-pack blankets and heavy clothing to use in case of an emergency.
    • Conserve Fuel: If possible, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. This will help to conserve fuel.

https://exchange.aaa.com/safety/driving-advice/winter-driving-tips/

Making Thanksgiving Memories Together

Thanksgiving is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November every year in the United States. It started as a harvest festival and has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789.  The most important part of Thanksgiving for American families is to spend family time together.

Martin Cathrae

 “My favorite holiday was Thanksgiving. Firstly, it was my first holiday with the whole family in America. Secondly, the whole family came together. All aunts and uncles and their kids came to grandma’s. We played football with all of them, including grandma and grandpa. It was the first time I played it and it was so much fun for all. We had a great dinner with all the typical things you can imagine … it was deeeelicious! It was so great to be with such a big family and I really enjoyed that day. I will remember it my whole life, I hope.” – Swantje from Germany

Here are a few tips to help you have a terrific Thanksgiving experience.

Host Parents
Please plan to include your au pair in your Thanksgiving celebration, if at all possible. If you are traveling or will not be able to invite your au pair to join you for Thanksgiving, give her plenty of notice and help her make alternate plans. You don’t want to leave your au pair alone over the holiday.

Au Pairs
If you are invited to attend dinner, please let your family know within 5 days of the invitation, whether you are planning to attend, so they may make plans. If your host family is unable to include you in their Thanksgiving plans, please let me know if you have trouble making other plans, so I can assist.

Make sure to discuss time off during this holiday weekend. Many host families work the Friday after Thanksgiving so do not assume you have this day off or the entire weekend. Talk to your host family, BEFORE you make any plans.

Bonus Tip for the Kids
If you are looking for a fun recipe to make with your au pair, check out these turkey cookies. Find more fun activities and recipes on the Au Pair in America Fall Holidays pinboard.

 

Back to School Planning

Back to school time is here. This can mean changes to the au pair schedule and possibly to the duties.  It is very important to communicate these changes to avoid problems.

Here is a list of topics to consider discussing:

  • Au pair’s work schedule
  • The children’s school and activity schedules
  • Where the children get dropped off and picked up and who will be doing this
  • What to do if a child is staying home sick, late to school, does not get off the bus (if they are supposed to)
  • Driving laws regarding stopping for school buses
  • How to tell if school has been canceled or delayed for bad weather
  • Add the au pair to your list of people allowed to pick up the kids from school and explain the process
  • What to pack for lunch
  • The routine after school (do they have free time before starting homework, what to give for a snack, any chores, where do they put their backpacks & lunchboxes)
  • How to communicate about what’s going on at school. Your Kids in Care logbook from Au Pair in America can be a great two-way communication tool for keeping track of schedules, afterschool activities and day to day info that needs to be transferred between host parents and au pair.
  • If your au pair will be the one going through the children’s backpack and helping with homework, consider designating an area for putting things that need to be read and/or signed by parents.

Here are some Printable Fill-in-the-Blank School Notes for parents. You can print these out and have them ready for times when the kids are absent, late, have an early dismissal or you need to give permission for something.

Check out Au Pair in America’s Pinterest School Tips and Ideas pinboard for things like organization ideas, back to school traditions, printable lunch box notes, and fun lunch recipes.

 

School bus safety tips for drivers and children

School will resume pretty soon and here are a few good reminders and tips for a safe start:

Courtesy of the Consumer reports.

Every school day 23 million children ride a big yellow bus. While school buses are one of the safest modes of transport, there are real risks in getting on and off and walking to bus stops. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has offered some tips to help students, parents, and motorists safe around buses.

Tips for drivers:

  • When backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school. Better yet, walk around your car or out to the sidewalk to check for any children walking in your path before you get in.
  • Drive slowly and watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks. Also be aware of children playing or waiting around bus stops.
  • Be alert and aware on the road. While children are typically taught about looking both ways, they could dart into the street without looking if they are late or distracted.
  • Learn the school bus laws in your state. Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to pickup or drop off children. Drivers need to slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm signal indicate that the bus is stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Cars must stop a safe distance away and not proceed until the red lights stop flashing, the stop sign folds back, and the bus continues on its way.

Tips for children:

  • Get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • When the bus approaches, stand at least 6 feet away from the curb, and line up away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least 10 feet ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing or backpacks don’t get caught in the handrails or doors.
  • Never walk behind the bus.
  • If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

PLAYGROUND SAFETY

Supervise Kids Using Playground Equipment

  • Actively supervise children on playgrounds. It won’t be hard – they’ll probably be calling for you to watch them climb, jump and swing.
  • Check playgrounds where your children play. Look for age-appropriate equipment and hazards, such as rusted or broken equipment and dangerous surfaces. Report any hazards to the school or appropriate local office.
  • Teach children that pushing, shoving or crowding while on the playground can be dangerous.
  • Dress appropriately for the playground. Remove necklaces, purses, scarves or clothing with drawstrings that can get caught on equipment and pose a strangulation hazard. Even helmets can be dangerous on a playground, so save those for bikes.
  • Little kids can play differently than big kids. It is important to have a separate play area for children under 5.

Choose the Right Play Area Based on Your Child’s Age

  • Ensure that children use age-appropriate playground equipment. Separate play areas for bigger kids and children under 5 should be available and maintained.
  • For babies who are mostly crawling or at best learning to walk, the play area should have a smooth and easy surface to walk on.
  • If your baby has fairly good head control and can sit up with support (usually around 9 months old), give the baby (bucket-shaped) swings a try.
  • Babies love slides but are too young to go down on their own. But they can slide down with your support. Just hold your baby all the way down and enjoy.

Information provided by Safekids.org

DRIVEWAY SAFETY TIPS

Check Your Car and Driveway for Kids

  • We know you’re often in a hurry, but before you drive away, take a few seconds to walk all the way around your parked car to check for children.
  • When checking for kids around your vehicle, see if anything that could attract a child such as a pet, bike or toy, is under or behind your vehicle before getting in and starting the engine.
  • Designate an adult to supervise and find a safe spot for children to wait when nearby vehicles are about to move and make sure the drivers can see them.

Limit Play in the Driveway

  • Work with your kids to pick up toys, bikes, chalk or any type of equipment around the driveway so that these items don’t entice kids to play.
  • Identify and use safe play areas for children, away from parked or moving vehicles. Teach kids to play in these areas instead of in, around or behind a car. Consider making your driveway a toy-free zone.
  • Don’t allow children to play unattended in parking lots when cars are present.

Lend a Hand to Younger Kids

  • Accompany little kids when they get in and out of a vehicle. Hold their hands while walking near moving vehicles or in driveways and parking lots or on sidewalks.

Courtesy of Safekids.org

SUMMER SAFETY TIPS

Now that the  start of summer is under way, we will begin our monthly Summer Safety Tips. Come back and check regularly to find out how to spend a safe and wonderful summer with your kids.
Let’s start this off with SWIMMING SAFETY TIPS:

There Is No Substitute for Active Supervision

  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention.
  • Whenever infants or toddlers are in or around water, an adult should be within arm’s reach to provide active supervision. We know it’s hard to get everything done without a little multitasking, but this is the time to avoid distractions of any kind. If children are near water, then they should be the only thing on your mind. Small children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
  • When there are several adults present and children are swimming, use the Water Watcher card strategy, which designates an adult as the Water Watcher for a certain amount of time (such as 15-minute periods) to prevent lapses in supervision. Download a Water Watcher card here.

Start Slow With Babies

  • You can start introducing your babies to water when they are about 6 months old. Remember to always use waterproof diapers and change them frequently.

Educate Your Kids About Swimming Safely

  • Every child is different, so enroll children in swimming lessons when you feel they are ready. Teach children how to tread water, float and stay by the shore.
  • Make sure kids swim only in areas designated for swimming. Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.
  • Whether you’re swimming in a backyard pool or in a lake, teach children to swim with a partner, every time. From the start, teach children to never go near or in water without an adult present.

Don’t Rely on Swimming Aids

  • Remember that swimming aids such as water wings or noodles are fun toys for kids, but they should never be used in place of a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD).

Take the Time to Learn CPR

  • We know you have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list. It will give you tremendous peace of mind – and the more peace of mind you have as a parent, the better.
  • Local hospitals, fire departments and recreation departments offer CPR training.
  • Have your children learn CPR. It’s a skill that will serve them for a lifetime.

Take Extra Steps Around Pools

  • A swimming pool is a ton of fun for you and your kids. Make sure backyard pools have four-sided fencing that’s at least 4 feet high and a self-closing, self-latching gate to prevent a child from wandering into the pool area unsupervised.
  • When using inflatable or portable pools, remember to empty them immediately after use. Store them upside down and out of children’s reach.
  • Install a door alarm, a window alarm or both to alert you if a child wanders into the pool area unsupervised.

Check the Drains in Your Pool and Spa

  • Educate your children about the dangers of drain entanglement and entrapment and teach them to never play or swim near drains or suction outlets.
  • Pools that pose the greatest risk of entrapment are children’s public wading pools, in-ground hot tubs, or any other pools that have flat drain grates or a single main drain system.
  • For new pools or hot tubs, install multiple drains in all pools, spas, whirlpools and hot tubs. This minimizes the suction of any one drain, reducing risk of death or injury. If you do have drains, protective measures include anti-entrapment drain covers and a safety vacuum release system to automatically release suction and shut down the pump should entrapment occur.
  • Regularly check to make sure drain covers are secure and have no cracks, and replace flat drain covers with dome-shaped ones. If a pool or hot tub has a broken, loose or missing drain cover, don’t use it.
  • If you do have drains, protective measures include anti-entrapment drain covers and a safety vacuum release system to automatically release suction and shut down the pump should entrapment occur. Go to www.PoolSafety.gov for a list of manufacturers of certified covers.
  • Check to make sure your pool or hot tub’s drains are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act.

Courtesy of Safekids.org

NEVER leave a child alone in a car , even for a minute!

Outside Temperature : images-1

101º F

Inside Vehicle Temperature:

140º F

Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open.

Teach children not to play in any vehicle.

Lock all  vehicle doors and trunk after everyone has exited  –especially  at home. Here is a great suggestion from one of my cluster’s host moms:

One thing I always do now—

ALWAYS Leave my door (drivers door) Wide OPEN when I get out of the car.  Then I unload the kids and ensure everyone is out before I go back and close my door. That way I know everyone is out before there is potential for locking anyone in. 

Keep  keys out of children’s reach.

Check vehicles and trunks FIRST if a child  goes missing.

 

 

Have a safe summer everyone:-)

 

SPRAYGROUNDS in Arlington,VA

Au Pairs,

Memorial Day is behind us which means Arlington Parks and Recreation has officially opened the spraygrounds around the county.

Spraygrounds are parks where kids can splash and play with water; it’s a great place to cool off a bit this summer, they are free and open from now til Labor Day weekend.

Check if there is one near you and confirm with your host parents that it is okay to bring your host child/children to one of them:https://parks.arlingtonva.us/parksfacilities/spraygrounds

Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray:-)

 

Memorial Day celebration


Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering and honoring people who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday is observed every year on the last Monday of May.  Many cities and towns host parades (check local websites to get information).  Families and friends often relax and enjoy picnics, cook outs, opening the pool or a trip to the beach.

·         The federal holiday was originally called “Decoration Day” and was first observed on May 5, 1868,

·         Following the battle of Gettysburg, women from Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, placed flowers on the graves of the fallen soldiers.

·         The “National Moment of Remembrance Act” was signed on Dec. 20, 2000, by President Bill Clinton, designating 3 p.m. as a moment set aside to “pause and consider the true meaning of this holiday.”

·         Memorial Day unofficially marks the beginning of summer for many Americans

 Looking to celebrate this very important day? Check what Arlington, VA has to offer:

https://www.stayarlington.com/blog/observe-memorial-day-in-arlington/

 

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!”  ~Maya Angelou