Monday, July 26, 2010

Swimming Pool Safety

Today Jolie Perara, Marketing Manager of Washington FAMILY Magazine was on WUSA9 News Now sharing some pool safety tips.

So what are some things you can do to keep your kids safer at the pool?

The most important tip we can give you is if your child is missing always check the pool first. – not the bathroom or the snack bar!

General Pool Area Safety
Remove Hot Tub Covers

Most of us know about having locked fences around pools and completely removing pool and hot tub covers so kids don’t become trapped under them. But there are a number of other measures that make summer even safer.

Additional Pool Safety
Touch Supervision
Informed Babysitter
Stay Away from Drains

Vigilance is the number one way to keep your kids safe. Most young children who drown in pools or hot tubs have been out of sight for less than five minutes. It can’t be said often enough, you have to watch your kids around water.

With infants and toddlers, use “touch supervision” meaning you are always within an arm’s length.

If a babysitter takes your child to the pool, make sure he or she knows about pool safety and the need for constant supervision.

Drains can be an issue. Because of the danger of kids being trapped underwater by the pool drain suction, federal legislation was enacted to help ensure all public pools and spas have safety-compliant drain covers and anti-entrapment systems. Make sure your pool is safe in this way.

To keep safe, kids should tie back long hair, remove jewelry, make sure their arms, legs and heads stay clear of the drains and not sit on drains. This goes for public as well as private pools and hot tubs.

Home Water Safety
Caution with Inflatable Pools
Keep the Phone Handy
Remove Toys from Pools
Keep Chairs/Table Clear of Pool
Locate the Circuit Breaker
Missing Child? Check the pool first!

Keep in mind that you don’t have to have an in ground pool to practice pool safety. Children can drown in as little as one inch of water. So think about inflatable and baby pools. Either fence or drain them when you are not using them.

With any size pool or hot tub, keep a phone nearby so you don’t leave your child unsupervised while running inside to answer it and so it’s right there for emergencies.

What if you are lucky enough to have a pool at home? Make sure toys are out of the pool after playtime to lessen the chance of a child falling in while reaching for a toy.

Keep chairs and tables away from the pool fence so that kids can’t climb the fence to get in to the pool.

If you do have a pool or hot tub, clearly label the circuit breaker in case it needs to be turned off in an emergency.

And if your child is missing, always check the pool first.

And remember, these tips apply to any pool from community pools to hot tubs in the backyard. Even if you don’t own a pool, your child may play with kids who do or their camp or daycare may take them to the pool. Be sure to teach them about the dangers of pool drains and pool safety.

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Good links

Water Parks and Spray Parks

Build a WaterPark at Home

Cool Ice Rinks

Monday, July 19, 2010

Best Playgrounds and Playground Safety

Now is the time of year when we are all taking advantage of the wonderful recreational facilities that we have in the Washington Region including some great parks & playgrounds for kids. July is also the month that FAMILY Magazine’s BEST for FAMILIES list comes out with over 50 playgrounds that moms think are great in our area.

However, according to the National Program for Playground Safety, each year over 205,000 preschool and elementary children receive emergency room care for injuries that occur in parks and playgrounds.

So, where are these great playgrounds and how can parents avoid injuries for their children?

Today on the Moms Like segment, Peggy Fox and I discussed good playgrounds and how to make sure they are safe.

This year there were over 6,000 Best for Families nominees in 93 categories with the voting for the best playground very tight. The number one playground was Clemyjonri Park in McLean. You can find the complete list of all the Best for Families nominees on our web site along with a list of playgrounds with pictures. Here are the links.

WHEN WE VISIT A PARK – HOW DO WE KNOW IT IS SAFE? What is the most important factor?

Safety Factors are:
Surface Material
Design & Spacing
Equipment Maintenance

The most important factor in playground safety is the surface. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission the vast majority of injuries reported from playgrounds were from falls.

And, according to the National Program for Playground Safety 15% of injuries could be classified as severe and 49% of those severe injuries were to the head and face.

A proper playground surface is one the most important factors to help reduce these injuries.

Appropriate surface materials include:

-Pea Gravel
-Shredded or recycled rubber mulch
-Wood mulch (not CCA-treated – Chromated Copper Arsenate)
-Wood chips
-Materals tested to guidelines (ASTM F1292)
(Manufactured materials tested for cushioning such as rubber pads and engineered wood fibers)

So go ahead and take the kids out to the great parks and playgrounds in our area but be on the lookout for what the surface material is made of. You want it to be a safe experience as well as fun.

Here is a list of the playgrounds that were nominated as the best in our area by our readers. Do you have a favorite park or playground that we don’t have on our list? Send it along!

Washington, DC

Columbia Heights Community Center
1480 Girard Street, NW
Washington, DC
(202) 671-0373
Featuring an Arts and Crafts Room, a Computer Lab, a Conference Room, a Dance Room, a Game Room, an Indoor Gymnasium (w/stage), two Multi-purpose Room, a Music Studio, an Outdoor Basketball Court, a Playground, a Spray Park and a Weight Room.

East Potomac Park
Hains Pt & Ohio Dr S
(202) 554-7660
East Potomac Park is a 300+ acre peninsula located between the Washington Channel and the Potomac River. Hains Point, at the southern end of the park, is a popular picnic spot with a great view of the city and features a mini-golf course, a playground, a public outdoor pool, tennis courts, picnic facilities, and a recreation center. New equipment is set on rubber mat surfacing which accommodates strollers and wheelchairs. This beautiful park has plenty of shade, bathrooms, picnic benches and lots of areas for kids to run around.

Friendship "Turtle" Park
4500 Van Ness Street, NW
(202) 282-2198
This is one of the best playgrounds in DC, with plenty of slides, swings, tunnels, and climbing structures. There is a fenced area with plenty of shade, benches and picnic tables. Other amenities include a sand box with turtles, basketball and tennis courts, softball/soccer fields and a recreation center.

Guy Mason Recreation Center
3600 Calvert St NW, [at Observatory Cir NW]
Washington, DC 20007
Parking: parking lot in park. Amenities include a Baseball Field for Little League and Softball, a Hockey/Basketball Court, Large Multi-Purpose Room, a Picnic Area, a Playground & a Small Multi-Purpose Room.

Hardy Recreation Center
4500 Q St., NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 282-2190
Amenities include a 100'x40' Soccer Field, a Basketball Court, Medium Multi-Purpose Room, Picnic Area, two Playgrounds and two Tennis Courts.

Hearst Recreation Center
3600 Tilden St., NW
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 282-2207
Featuring a Basketball Court, Medium Multi-Purpose Room, a Picnic Area, a Playground, a Small Multi-Purpose Field, a Soccer Field, & three Tennis Courts.

Kalorama Park
19th Street & Kalorama Rd. NW.
Kalorama Park is a large playground in the heart of Adams Morgan next to Kalorama Recreation Center. The playgrounds are divided into big-kid and little-kid fenced play areas.

Lafayette Recreation Center
5900 33rd St., NW
Washington, DC 20015
(202) 282-2206
Features two Athletic Fields with 60' Diamond, a Basketball Court, a Picnic Area, two modern playgrounds (one for younger kids and one for older), a Small Multi-Purpose Room & four tennis courts.

Macomb Recreation Center
3409 Macomb St., NW
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 282-2199
Amenities include a Baseball Field with 60' Diamond, a Basketball Court, a Picnic Area, two Playgrounds & a Small Multi-Purpose Room.

Marie Reed Recreation Center
2200 Champlain St., NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 673-7768
Featuring an indoor Swimming Pool, a lighted Basketball Court & four lighted Tennis Courts.

Stoddert Recreation Center
4001 Calvert St., NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 282-2193
Amenities include an Athletic Field with 60' Diamond, a Playground and a
Small Multi-Purpose Room.

Volta Park Recreation Center (formerly Georgetown)
1555 34th St., NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 282-0380
Features include a Baseball Field with 60' Diamond, a Basketball Court, a Playground, a Small Multi-Purpose Room, a Swimming Pool & two Tennis Courts.


Cabin John Regional Park
7400 Tuckerman Lane
Rockville, MD 20852
(301) 299-0024
Huge park with lots of climbing structures, slides, mazes, play houses, swings, Cinderella's pumpkin carriage, airplane, and cars. Other features include miniature train, snack bar, rest rooms, hiking trails, picnic areas, indoor/outdoor tennis courts, ice skating rink, Locust Grove Nature Center, the Cabin John Amphitheatre and lighted athletic fields. Plenty of shade. During the summer months, evening concerts are offered to the public free of charge.

Candy Cane Park
Beach Drive & Rollingwood Dr.
Chevy Chase, MD
Huge park that has recently been renovated. There are separate big kid and little kid play areas, tennis courts, basketball courts, playing fields, bathrooms, pavilions and shade. The park is located next to Meadowbrook Stables so kids can walk around and look at the horses.

Hadley's Playground at Falls Road Local Park
Falls Road, Potomac, MD
Themed play areas include a castle, fort, pirate ship, and two-lane road, all of which include ramps and other features to accommodate wheelchairs and strollers. Plenty of open space for kids to run, play ball or ride bikes. Limited shade.

Martin Luther King Jr. Recreational Park
1120 Jackson Road
Silver Spring, Maryland 20904
This 95-acre park includes an outdoor and indoor swimming pool operated by the Montgomery Recreation Department, and tennis courts, ball fields, a playground, and small lake. Also includes an outdoor pool and swim center.

Seneca Creek State Park
11950 Clopper Road
Gaithersburg, MD
(301) 924-2127
Beautiful park with a huge playground made with recycled tires. Kids love the zip line, ‘Bouncy Spider Hammock,' and the ‘Dragon' Lots of climbing equipment. Park has a lake, boating, fishing, hiking tails, a disc golf course, pavilions, bathrooms and lots of shade.

South Germantown Recreational Park
18041 Central Park Circle
Boyds, Maryland 20841
17920 Germantown Park Drive
Germantown, MD 20841 (adventure playground)
Facilities at South Germantown Recreational Park include hiking trails, picnic facilities, an indoor sports complex, 22 soccer fields with a lighted stadium, baseball and softball fields, a playground, archery range, golf driving range, two miniature golf courses, a splash playground, model boating lake, a tot lot, and an indoor aquatic center. Splash Playground - Kids can cool off playing in a massive waterfall, tumbling buckets, a rain tree, water tunnel, 36' water maze with 280 ground-level jets. Lockers, cubbies, showers, dressing rooms, restrooms and a vending are nearby. (301) 601-3580. Adventure Playground - This modern playground includes unique equipment including a medieval castle, pirate ship, world map, mazes, xylophones, and sea serpents.

Watkins Regional Park
301 Watkins Park Drive
Upper Marlboro, MD
(301) 218-6700
Park with playgrounds, picnic areas, hiking and biking trails, Watkins Nature Center, the Chesapeake Carousel, Old Maryland Farm, the Watkins Regional Park miniature train, Watkins Miniature Golf Course, softball, football and soccer fields, basketball courts, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and 34 campsites.

Wheaton Regional Park
Wheaton, MD 20902
Visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational and educational opportunities within its 536 acres. Take a ride on the train, go horseback riding, have a picnic, go fishing, ice skate or play ball. Relax and tour the botanical gardens and conservatory, attend a nature program, or traverse the trails and discover the park's beauty. Shorefield Area features Picnic Shelters (A-H) and playground, Miniature Train and Historic Carousel, Pine Lake & Trails. Glenallan Area contains Brookside Gardens, Brookside Nature Center and Horse Stables. Orebaugh Area has F. Frank Rubini Athletic Complex, Tennis and Court Facilities, Ice Arena and In-Line Skating Facilities & a Dog Park.


Fairfax County Park Authority
Phone: 703-324-8702
Fax: 703-324-3991
12055 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035-1118
Park sites throughout Fairfax County
RECenters w/indoor pools and fitness facilities, classes (swimming, exercise, arts, dance, tots, etc.), camps, nature and history programs, day trips, programs for people with disabilities, concerts, leagues, golf courses, ice rink, working farm.

Algonkian Park
20280 Cascades Parkway
Sterling, VA
(703) 444-1459
One of the biggest playgrounds in the area with swings, tunnels, bouncing bridges, slides, and ladders. New equipment, plenty of shade, and lots of picnic tables and benches.

Ashburn Dinosaur Park
43546 Partlow Road
Ashburn, VA
A 16-acre park with three separate playgrounds for different ages. Plenty of shade. There is a picnic pavilion which is a good place for a birthday party, and walking trails leading to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Bull Run Regional Park
7700 Bull Run Dr.
Centreville, VA 20121
Bull Run's spacious fields accommodate groups for picnics, camping or special events. Bull Run's scenic woodland and trails offer miles of hiking and solitude. A large outdoor pool is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Disc golf is open April through October. A public shooting center, which includes sporting clays, skeet, trap, wobble trap and indoor archery, is open year-round. The children's playground is open year round and is conveniently located near restrooms. This summer marks the opening of Atlantis Waterpark. The new features include a 25-foot high play structure with a 1,100-gallon dumping bucket, water slides, waterfalls and squirters.

Burke Lake Park
7315 Ox Road,
Fairfax Station, VA
218-acre lake with fishing, boating, rowboat rental, camping, a miniature train, a carousel, outdoor volleyball courts, open fields, an 18-hole par 3 golf course, clubhouse with snack bar and driving range, disk golf, horse shoe pits, an ice cream parlor, picnic areas with grills, 3 playgrounds, trails, amphitheater, and a brand new miniature golf course. Swimming and windsurfing are prohibited.

Chestnut Hills Park
N. Harrison St. & 27th St. N.
Arlington, VA 22207
Features include portable Toilets, Water Fountains, School-Age Playground (combination school-age and pre-school) and a Community Garden. Fenced in. It is located adjacent to Greenbrier Stadium and Running Track.

Clemyjontri Park
6317 Georgetown Pike
McLean, Virginia 22101
Features a unique playground where children of all abilities can play side-by-side. It is a playground where every child is welcome. Children who use wheelchairs, walkers or braces, or who have sensory or developmental disabilities, can have a parallel playground experience. At Clemyjontri ramps connect structures, swings have high backs, arm rests and special safety features, rubber surfacing allows wheelchairs to roll easily, lowered monkey bars provide easy access, equipment is designed to be sensory rich so all children can participate with peers, & wider openings allows easy access to play structures. Other features include a carousel and a picnic pavilion. The entrance road leads to an 81-space parking area and a drop-off zone for vehicles whose passengers need close access. Future development will include other amenities in the surrounding 10 acres of space.

Costello Park
99 Adams Street
Manassas Park, Virginia 20111
is a 25 acre park featuring a recreation center, a community pool, a playground, five baseball fields, three softball fields, two tennis courts, an outdoor basketball court, several picnic areas with grills and a covered pavilion. Costello Park is open year round from 7:30 a.m. until dusk. Also in Costello Park is the Stone House. The Stone House serves the community as additional meeting space for the various City ‘non-profits'. The Recreation Center is open to Manassas Park residents upon completion of the Recreation Center Application.

Fantasy Playground
(outside Tall Oaks)
12298 Cotton Mill Drive
Lake Ridge, VA 22192
A large, wooden play area is located on Cotton Mill Rd. Other amenities for children include18 Tot Lots and 12 Basketball Courts.

Great Falls Grange Playground
9818 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, VA
Newly renovated playground with rock climbing walls, tire swings, merry-go-round, and a cave with dinosaur fossils. Plenty of shade, benches, pavilions and picnic tables.

Great Falls Park
9200 Old Dominion Dr.
McLean, VA 22102
Visitor Information
(703) 285-2965
There are many opportunities for outdoor recreation at Great Falls Park including Falls and River Viewing, Bicycling, Bird Watching, Boating, Climbing, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding & Picnicking. Great Falls Park has fifteen miles of hiking trails, five of which are multi-use for horseback riding, hiking, and biking. Trail maps are available at both the entrance station and the Visitor Center.

Hayes Park
1516 N. Lincoln St.
Arlington, VA 22201
Features include: restrooms, water fountains, Picnic Shelter, Picnic Table, School-Age Playground (combination school-age and pre-school, enclosed), Tennis Court (2 courts with lights), Basketball Court (1 court with lights), Spray Park (accessible, Summer only). The Spray Park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 10:00am to 8:00pm. Please note that hours of operation for the Spray Park may vary on holidays.

Lacey Woods Park
1200 North George Mason Drive
Arlington, VA 22205
Park Hours: Sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset except on lighted facilities.
Features a Multi-use field, School-Age Playground (combination school-age and pre-school), accessible restrooms, lighted Basketball Court, water fountains and picnic shelter found at comfort station, rental picnic shelter is in woods, includes use of open green space area, picnic tables, charcoal grills, nature trails & Ornamental Garden. Some special features are a fenced park with wooded area, open green space, and fire ring.

Lake Accotink Park
7500 Accotink Park Rd.
Springfield, VA - 22150
Its 493 acres include a 55-acre lake with boating, fishing, hiking, miniature golf, a carousel, snack bar, tour boat rides, trails, picnic areas and playgrounds. Boats powered by electric motors, sailboats under 15 feet and kayaks are allowed on the lake. Pay $2 launch fee at marina. Swimming and windsurfing are prohibited.

Ratcliffe Park
10300 Sager Ave
Fairfax, VA 22030
Features basketball courts, a Little League field, small multipurpose field & playground equipment

Signal Hill Park
9300 Signal View Dr
Manassas, VA 22110
(703) 335-8874
A 110 acre site with a Water Park, four multi-purpose fields, an ASA regulation softball field, 100 sq. foot playground, one mile of asphalt trail, large pavilion with restrooms, a pond area, and several picnic areas with grills. Signal Hill Park is open year round from 7:30 a.m. until dusk, and is located off Signal View Drive near Manassas Drive.

Van Dyke Park
3720 Old Lee Highway
Fairfax, VA
Features a lighted basketball court, exercise trail, multipurpose play areas, picnic shelters, playground equipment, lighted tennis courts, sand volleyball court and a future location of city community center

Woodmont Park
2422 N. Fillmore Street, Arlington, VA
(703) 228-6525
Woodmont Park has new play equipment and nearby facilities for a wide range of ages. Play area includes play houses, rocking whale, slides, a rope bridge and monkey bars. Other facilities include benches, pavilion, basketball court, and a baseball field.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What’s Fresh at the Farmer’s Market?

July and August are two of the most bountiful months for fresh fruits and vegetables. Now is the time stop at one of the many produce stands and pick up some of this bounty. Here’s what’s in season:
• Corn
• Cucumbers
• Eggplant
• Green beans
• Lettuce
• Summer squash
• Tomatoes
• Apricots
• Blueberries
• Cantaloupe
• Kiwi
• Peaches
• Plums
• Raspberries
• Strawberries
• Watermelon

Keep a supply of reusable bags in the car so you will be ready when you see a stand. Try sampling varieties that are not on your usual menu. Be daring! Once you get home the fun begins.

Sorting Veggies
Touching and smelling the produce is a large part of the fun. Start by sorting the vegetables. Keep tomatoes in a bowl on the counter because they do not do well when refrigerated. Use the really ripe ones immediately. All the other veggies can go wrapped in plastic bags into the refrigerator (less esthetic but they keep longer); however, no one seems to agree on eggplant. Some say to refrigerate others not. I would leave the eggplant out and use it within a day or two. If after two days and the eggplant has not been used, then refrigerate. I like leaving as many vegetables out as possible because not only are the lovely but they are also easy to grab for a snack. Plus seeing them is a reminder of what to cook for dinner.

Sorting Fruit
Cantaloupe, peaches, apricots, plums, and kiwi can also be left out if not ripe. Berries generally go right into the refrigerator as do watermelon. Watermelon is best served cold. If the watermelon is not quite ripe, leave out.

Easy Ways to Turn Produce into Meals (Always wash fresh produce before using.)
Grilling is one of the easiest ways to cook vegetables in the summer. This works best for eggplant, summer squash, and tomatoes. You can add in onions too. (If you cook onions on the grill, instead of in foil, leave on the skin.)

First rub veggies with olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and /or your favorite herbs like fresh basil, thyme, fresh garlic, and a squirt of fresh orange or lemon and either wrap in foil or put straight on a grill. First rub the grill grates with olive or canola oil. Always remember to clean your grill before you cook. Rule of thumb: Make sure to burn off all the grease, etc. after each use and then take a wire brush to the grates before you use the grill again.

There is much debate about the best way to cook corn. Corn can be cooked right in its husks on the grill, husked and wrapped in foil and cooked on the grill, or husked and boiled for a short time. Corn can also be cut off the cob and added to salsas and salads.

Parchment paper is another quick delicious way to cook vegetables. You can take fish and add tomatoes, green beans, onions, lemon zest and seasoned salt, roll it up and put it in the oven. Zucchini pancakes, sautéed squash blossoms, and ratatouille are some quick ways to use this abundant vegetable.

Of course, fresh salad and salsa are tasty ways to use fruits and vegetables together. Watermelon salsa with corn, chili peppers, onion and mango make a great combination. Experiment with new dips like red pepper hummus, Babaganoush (made with eggplant), and homemade ranch dressing (made with yogurt) and serve with lightly steamed green beans, fresh cukes, and sliced tomatoes. Fresh or lightly steamed veggies make a nutritious accompaniment to any summer meal. Sliced fresh cucumber, thinly sliced onions, and red pepper flakes mixed with seasoned rice vinegar make a good side with grilled fish and store bought sushi.

With the berries you can make fruit tarts and berry coulis (sauce) for ice cream and sorbets. Berry coulis is also good to drizzle on grilled fish served with fresh lemon slices. Add berries to cereal or fresh yogurt and put them into fruit smoothies. You can also freeze berries and pop them straight into your mouth for a refreshing snack! The options are unlimited. Caramelize peaches and apricots and add a dab of crème fraise.