Christine Park

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Two New Laws Parents Need to Know About

Have you heard of "The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act?" Neither had I. But as of this Friday, July 1st, it is California law to have carbon monoxide detectors in homes that have a fireplace, attached garage, or gas appliance. This pretty much covers nearly all of California's 12.5 million homes. Here's a link to frequently asked questions about the new law. Carbon monoxide poisoning is no laughing matter. Because it is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, it is called the silent killer. Last December, a Kings County man was working to fix a faulty heater in his home right before Christmas. The vent was not working properly, so the cinderblock house filled with carbon monoxide. He passed out, fell to the floor and died. His wife came home shortly thereafter. She knelt at her husband's side, took a breath, fell down next to him and also died. And earlier this year in January, four members of an Oakhurst family died when carbon monoxide from a gas generator they were using seeped into their home while they were sleeping. 40 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year in California. Many of these deaths could have been avoided if detectors had been in place. Symptoms commonly associated with carbon monoxide poisoning: Dizziness, nausea, headaches and sudden tiredness or lethargy. I spent the morning at The Home Depot learning about carbon monoxide detectors. Here's a list of approved devices. Some are as low as $17.98... and range in price up to $39.98. One of the main manufacturers is Kidde, which makes three types: battery, wired, and plug-in. The best place is to install them is just outside all the bedrooms where you and your family sleep. They sound and look just like smoke alarms, which we should all already have in our homes. in fact, some are combo smoke-fire-CO sensors. If your home was built after January 1st of this year, then your home should already have a CO detector installed. Builders were required to install them in all new construction as of 1/1/2011. So even though the threat of enforcement and the $200 fine is unlikely, please do the responsible thing and protect your family by taking this small step.

Another law going into effect today is that it is now illegal to sell drop-side cribs. If you have one, like I did, throw it away piece by piece or make it unusable. Do not donate it or sell it in a yard sale or secondhand store. That too is illegal. But you still have to watch for drop-side cribs if you travel or if your kids in in daycare beca
use family child care homes and infant Head Start centers, and places of public accommodation, such as hotels and motels, were given until December 28, 2012 to have compliant cribs in their facilities. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says federal mandatory crib standards had not been updated in nearly 30 years and the new rule will usher in a safer generation of cribs. These mandatory standards will: 1) stop the manufacture and sale of dangerous, traditional drop-side cribs; 2) make mattress supports stronger; 3) improve slat strength, 4) make crib hardware more durable; and 5) make safety testing more rigorous. It's amazing to me that it took three decades and dozens of babies dying to finally put these stricter standards in place.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Affordable Summer Fun

Select Regal, United Artists, and Edwards Cinemas offer select G and PG-rated movies Tuesdays and Wednesdays for only $1 as part of the summertime Regal Cinemas Summer Movie Express. At that link, you can search for a participating theater near you. Today and tomorrow, they're showing How to Train Your Dragon and Muppets Take Manhattan at Edwards Cinemas at Fresno's River Park. While you're there, on Tuesdays, popcorn is only $2 (Regal Crown Club membership required).

Several cities, including Fresno, also offer free movies in the park. This is a ton of fun (if the weather cooperates). This Friday, buy food from local vendors, hit the bounce house and watch Despicable Me as the sun goes down over Eaton Plaza.

Kids Bowl Free, two games a day, all summer long. Shoe rental fees apply. There are some participating locations in the Central Valley and all over California.

One of my kids' favorite forms of summer fun are the free splash parks around town. Many cities have been putting in these water features in public parks, just check with your local Parks and Recreation Department. The City of Fresno has four around town. And they are awesome! Beat the heat for free. Doesn't get better than that.

Don't forget all the farmer's markets around town. Live music and dancing, all the delicious food and fruit you can eat, and bounce houses and face painting to keep the kids happy.

Public libraries have awesome summer programs, including arts and crafts and storytime. Big chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders as well as small bookstores have awesome storytimes too.

On the first Saturday of every month from 9am to noon, Home Depot offers a free kids workshop. They can make things like picture frames and toolboxes and get to take home one of those famous orange aprons.

Just a few ideas to keep the kiddos (and you) from going crazy from boredom this summer!