Tag Archives: children

Motorcycles and Motor-scooters: Children Safety

scooterWe see it all the time a child riding on motorcycle or motor-scooter on the way to school.  I always wonder if it is safe or legal for that matter.  Well the law here says that they can ride on the motorcycle at 5 years of age and up (articolo 170 del Codice della Strada)

Here is a translation of this article 170

Article 170 – Transport of people, animals and objects on two-wheel motor vehicles

1. On motorcycles and mopeds (scooters) with two wheels, the driver must have free use of the arms, hands and legs, must sit in the correct position and must hold the handlebars with both hands or with one hand in case of need for appropriate maneuvers or reports. Should not lift the front wheel.

1-bis. On vehicles referred to in paragraph 1 shall not transport a child under five years.

2. On mopeds are prohibited for transport of persons other than the driver, except that the place for the passenger is expressly stated in the certificate and that the driver is over the age of eighteen years. A regulation issued by the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport have established how and when to upgrade, for purposes of this paragraph, the certificate of registration of mopeds approved before the date of entry into force of the law converting Decree Law of 27 June 2003, n. 151.

3. On vehicles referred to in paragraph 1, any passenger must be seated in a stable and balanced in the position determined by the special equipment of the vehicle.

4. And ‘forbidden to drivers of vehicles referred to in paragraph 1 to tow or be towed by other vehicles.

5. On vehicles referred to in paragraph 1 shall not carry anything that is not firmly secured, which protrude laterally or longitudinally to the axis of the vehicle with respect to the shape of it more than fifty centimeters or to prevent or limit the visibility of the driver. Within these limits, is permitted provided that the transport of animals kept in a special cage or container.

6. Anyone who violates the provisions of this Article shall be subject to administrative sanction for payment of a sum of € 76.00 to € 306.00.

6-bis. Anyone who violates the provisions of paragraph 1-bis shall be subject to administrative sanction for payment of a sum of € 152.00 to € 608.00.

7. For violations provided for in paragraph 1 and, if committed by a minor driver, in paragraph 2, the administrative fine follows the vehicle impounded for sixty days, in accordance with Chapter I, Section II, Title VI, when in the course of a two-year period, with a moped or a motorcycle has been committed for at least two times, one of the offenses referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2, the impounded vehicle is placed for ninety days.

After reading that, though very confusing about the rules since they do overlap, I would think you would not want to be putting your child under 5 years on a motorcycle or scooter to transport them to school.  I personally would be hesitant to put a child even over 5 on one, but if you really have to in this article (  Bambini in moto, una guida su come trasportarli in tutta sicurezza- in Italian) there are some important points you should consider for child safety.

Here are the main precautions should you decide to have your 5 or old child with you:

  • Have the child sit still in the passenger seat, behind the driver,
  • Always make sure that the child is able to remain in the correct position and does not fall asleep
  • Is able to absorb” the inevitable movements sudden and unexpected
  • Wear the appropriate protection
  • Avoid, if possible, particularly busy or dangerous streets
  • Always keep at a constant moderate speed
  • Never have the child sit in front of  you or even standing, even if you think you can keep under control the child

Another article on Motorcycle safety again in Italian is Il trasporto dei bambini sulla moto, normativa e consigli per una guida sicura

If you do decide to ride with your child, all I can say is please be safe. 

Related Articles:

I giovani motociclisti sono tutti Orfani – sicurmoto.it

Art. 170. * Trasporto di persone e di oggetti sui veicoli a motore a due ruote – aci.it

A Hospital Stay in Italy: Don’t forget to pack toilet paper!

As an American living in Umbria, I often get asked my opinion of Italy’s national health plan. The inquisitors are either my liberal friends envious of our comprehensive, low cost health coverage, or my more conservative friends suspicious of “Obamacare” and anything that bears the slightest whiff of socialism. So for those who envy my “free” healthcare, I say, it doesn’t come without caveats. And for those are sure that socialized medicine is the work of the Devil, I say, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Last year, our then-2-month old daughter, Naomi, was sleeping peacefully while my husband, Paolo, and I were eating lunch. From nowhere, she began what appeared to be a small seizure—her legs and arms shook violently and her head tilted back unnaturally; it appeared she was choking and could not breathe. I grabbed her and turned her on her stomach, slapped her on the back several times, and then put my finger in her mouth out of fear she had swallowed her tongue. She resumed breathing normally, and never even woke from her sleep. The entire episode last 15 seconds, maximum. It only felt like a lifetime. We called her pediatrician, who told us to take her to the pediatric ward of the hospital to have her checked out.

Naomi in her hospital bed. Not happy.

Naomi in her hospital bed. Not happy.

Which brought me to one of my most telling experiences with the Italian healthcare system.

Let me start by saying I am a fan of Italy’s national health system, and of socialized medicine in general. I lived most of my life in the US, where I either skipped or paid out of pocket for needed medical procedures when I was uninsured or under-insured  (ah, the caprices of self-employment). For years, I advocated for my elderly parents, whose Medicare and Medigap insurance very often left them with deductibles they could not pay. I wrote letters asking for their medical debts to be reduced or forgiven. I phoned lists of doctors and specialists, searching for one who would accept their insurance. I negotiated payment plans with hospitals. All this for a couple who actually has health insurance. So when presented with the notion that of all a country’s citizens, regardless of their ability to pay, are entitled to free and/or affordable, quality healthcare, then yes, that’s an idea I can get behind.

My experiences with healthcare in Italy have been overwhelmingly positive. The care is thorough, modern, and attentive. Wait times are manageable, even if a lot of Italians think otherwise. (Any time I’m waiting to have some lab work done or to pick up a prescription at our hospital, and an Italian complains about the wait, I always defend the system, and tell him or her that in the US, you can wait just as long and then get handed a bill you can’t afford to pay, something that simply doesn’t happen in Italy.) When we took Naomi in after her spasm, we were seen immediately, and she was admitted for monitoring within an hour. The pediatricians ordered a number of tests that would have had me hearing “cha-ching” in the US. She stayed in the hospital and was monitored closely for three nights, then finally sent home with meds and an appointment to follow up in a week, and no bill.

And I can go on. When my husband broke his foot (he fell down a flight of stairs while trying to kick me in the butt, but that’s a story for another blog), we were in and out of the ER, with a cast, in less than two hours. No bill. When I had Naomi via C-section and stayed in the hospital for four nights, a nurse showed up to help me any time she cried for more than two minutes. No bill. Cancerous tumors, malignant moles, dialysis, you name it, Paolo’s family has faced it and overcome it, thanks in no small part to the quality of healthcare in Italy. And with no bills.

But…here’s what you don’t get in public hospitals in Italy. A doctor with a bedside manner. A comfortable bed. A room with a fresh coat of paint. Marginally edible food. A knife, a fork or a coffee cup. Toilet paper. Yes, that’s right, toilet paper.

I should qualify my words by saying that this is my experience at one public hospital in Umbria—I won’t name the hospital but readers who know my geographic location can figure it out—but I’ve been led to believe that this is typical of most public hospitals in Italy. The care is top notch; the comfort is bare bones.

All better at home, with Daisy the dog keeping watch.

All better at home, with Daisy the dog keeping watch.

So, if you find yourself having to stay overnight at a hospital in Italy, pack silverware and a coffee cup, because these will not be provided for you. Nor will paper towels or napkins. Pack toilet paper, because although there’s a clean and sanitary bathroom attached to your room, it won’t have toilet paper. Pack a comfy pillow if that’s a priority for you. Pack some snacks and maybe a salt shaker; because the food you’ll be served makes melba toast seem like a flavor explosion.

But most of all, pack your thick skin and your sense of humor. Because while customer service is never a priority anywhere in Italy, nowhere does it seem less so than in its hospitals. You’ll be well cared for from a medical perspective, but most of the doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff you encounter will make it quite well known that they don’t give a flying f**k whether you are comfortable or not, whether your questions have been answered, or, if you’ve got a sick kid, whether you feel like the Worst. Mother. Ever. (In fact, I believe that feeling is encouraged.)

So with that in mind, here are my parting words for a few of the healthcare providers and workers I encountered over those three days:

  • To the doctor who scoffed at me (I mean really scoffed!) when I told her that I bought organic baby formula for the times I occasionally need to supplement my breast milk: maybe you want your kid to drink milk from factory-farmed cows pumped full of growth hormones and pesticide-laden grains. I do not.
  • To the cleaning lady who came into our room at 6:45 am and told me I had to get out of the folding cot I was sleeping on and put it away: thanks for turning on all the lights and waking my baby. Next time you can breastfeed her, change her diaper and sing her back to sleep instead of just letting her sleep an extra hour or two.
  • To the cleaning lady who came in at 6:45 the next morning and commenced yelling at me because the bed was not folded up (I was still in it, nursing Naomi), yet refused to fold it herself and yelled at me some more when I moved to a chair: I’m sorry you have such an unhappy life that you have to try to ruin everyone’s day with your dictatorial attitude. But my baby comes first.
  • To the doctor who completed an ultrasound of Naomi’s brain: “O Dio!” is not the thing to say when you’re doing an ultrasound of a baby’s brain and her parents are standing by. Next time you hit the wrong button on the machine, please, just say “whoops” instead.

And my final words to all those I encountered during our hospital stay: Thank you for taking care of my baby. Thank you for being thorough, for leaving nothing to chance and for looking for all possible causes for her choking incident. Thank you for not rushing us out of the hospital because you had the finance department breathing down your neck, worried about whether we could pay our bill. Thank you for not telling me that the tests or treatments Naomi needed were not covered by our insurance. For all of that, I can accept your toilet-paperless bathrooms, your bad attitudes, your crappy food and your absent bedside manners. But for God’s sake, lighten up a little bit. They say laughter is the best medicine, after all.

Naomi has long forgotten her hospital stay. Mom has not!

Naomi has long forgotten her hospital stay. Mom has not!

Elizabeth Heath blogs about life and adventures in rural Italy on her blog, My Village in Umbria. She’s also a freelance writer and contributing editor at Mamiverse.

Things that children put in there mouths

childI have heard some stories of “my child ate this and my child ate that”.  Children love to explore and then they like to taste so it might be inevitable for a child to go through life without something that they ate and were not supposed to. If your child ate something you will need to determine the next step.  If it is an object and not chemical or medicines, check to see if the child is breathing.  If he is getting air then that is a good sign it did not get stuck.  Next determine if it is a battery, magnet, or sharp object, these are very dangerous and require a trip to the emergency room.  The others should be brought to the attention of your doctor, where most likely you are going to be checking your child’s stool for the object he swallowed.

You can read more about what happens if your child swallows something that is not a medicine or chemical here:

Accidental Ingestions: Objects (Not Medications / Chemicals) – pediatricanswers.com

pillsIf it is a chemical or medicine, you need to act quick. You have to call poison control which is called (Centri Veleni in Firenze)

The number for Firenze is TEL.055/7947819 

You will need to have this information most likely in Italian, so maybe have a sheet with it on your frig:

  • The victim’s age
  • The victim’s weight
  • The victim’s existing health conditions or problems
  • The substance involved and how it contacted the person (was it swallowed, inhaled, absorbed through skin contact or splashed into the eyes?)
  • How long ago they swallowed or inhaled the substance
  • Any first aid which may have been given
  • If the person has vomited
  • Your location, and how long it will take you to get to a hospital

For a list of other numbers in other areas of Italy: Il centro antiveleni

Here is a list of a few different things that children have been noted for swallowing.

cryonsArts and crafts supplies
Nails, Pins, & Tacks
Fabric from sleeves and necks of shirts
Bathtub water
pencil eraser

What are your stories?  Has your child swallowed something strange?

Some Related Articles:

The Poison Control Center – chop.edu
Top 10 Things Kids Accidentally Swallow – babyzone.com

“Open Day” Steiner Waldorf School

“Open Day” on January 28th from 10am till 1pm at the Steiner Waldorf school in San Casciano/La Romola.

This is for seeing the school and asking questions.  Maybe interested Moms could schedule a meet up there?