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    Witnessing his hometown of Pt. Pleasant, New Jersey nearly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy left an indelible impression on Joseph Paradise. The dad and teacher, who spent years since the 2012 superstorm helping his parents, friends, and strangers rebuild, gained some hard-won wisdom when it comes to bracing for a disaster.

    As September has been declared National Preparedness Month by FEMA and Homeland Security, it's an ideal time to take a look at some of the things you can do to protect your family and your home in the event of a storm.   

    Paradise and insurance experts offered their top tips for preparing your home for storm season.  

    As Benjamin Franklin said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

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    With all the hoopla about parents being arrested for dropping their kids off at parks to fend for themselves, parents may be wondering at what age it's safe to leave kids alone in other circumstances -- for instance, at home. Moms may be wondering this because sooner or later they face a scenario where they need to just run out and grab a gallon of milk, and babysitters won't pop by for a half hour, and Junior's in the middle of his math homework. Yet moms may be understandably worried whether their kids are old enough to not open the door to strangers, call if any problems arise, and all in all responsibly handle whatever might come their way.

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    Imagine dropping your child off at school and learning shortly after there is a shooter on the grounds. Too many moms to count don't have to guess what that feels like. They lived that nightmare. Once upon a time, school shootings were a rarity in this country. Not anymore. Since the deadly rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, there have been 74 other school shootings. It's bone chilling. Three moms recount those terrifying moments when they didn't know whether their child would make it home alive. And like so many of us, they want to know why? Why does this continue to happen again and again?

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    You've seen the headlines. Baby dies after being left in hot car. Mom arrested for leaving child alone in the car. No doubt, you've read the warnings too. Don't leave your child in the car! They can be stolen. They can overheat. They can knock the car into gear. ANYTHING can happen, so just don't do it.

    Good advice for parents of babies, for parents of toddlers. Except ... what happens when your kids start to grow up? By 16 in most states, kids are legally allowed to drive a vehicle. So common sense would dictate that there must be an age, sometime before 16, when you can legally -- and safely -- leave your kid alone in a car, unsupervised.

    So, when can you leave your kid in a car without risking a visit from police? When is it safe for your child to be alone in a car without you?

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    Go walking through the toy aisle at any store, and you're bound to see the term "non-toxic" bandied about. It's a term parents should take with a (giant) grain of salt. After all, a government agency just put out a call for a permanent ban on five different phthalates in items made for kids. 

    Phthalates, if you haven't heard the term, are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break, and they commonly show up in kids' toys and other childcare products. Now for the scary part: the CDC says phthalates can affect the reproductive system in lab animals. The EPA calls the plasticizers "endocrine disruptors or hormonally-active agents," and the National Toxicology Program warns the chemicals may adversely affect human reproduction or development.

    And these are in our children's products?! In 2014?

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    Teens and their cellphones are rarely parted these days. Some kids even sleep with their cellphones, but if your child is one them, take heed! A Texas teen woke up to the smell of something burning in her bed this week.

    Turns out the 13-year-old is one of those kids whose cellphone ends up under her pillow at night -- and the gadget caught on fire. She woke to a phone that had completely melted, glass, plastic, and all. Scary? There's more!

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    Now that summer has your kids outside in the sun, covering them with sunscreen is a must. Only as anyone who's ever stared at the wall of options at a drugstore knows, choosing which one is safe for children is tricky. For starters, know this: While certain labels may scream "sunscreen for kids," there is no such thing as a product designed specifically for your little ones. "That's just marketing," says Fayne Frey, M.D., a dermatologist and founder of, a site that helps consumers select the right skin care products. A smarter way to make your choice is to take a close look at the label. Here are a few key words to keep an eye out for, and what they really mean.

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    Here's something terrifying: So far this year alone, 15 kids have died from heatstroke after being left in their parents' cars -- and it's only July. According to, on average, 38 children die every year from vehicular heatstroke after being forgotten in cars. Now, you may think you're not the "type" to leave your child in your car, but the scary reality is there is no type. In the last decade alone, parents from all walks of life -- pediatricians, soldiers, nurses, rocket scientists -- have accidentally left their kids in the car with dire results.

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    Summer after summer, we can't seem to avoid the very same series of horror stories in the news about children being left to bake in hot cars. Well, one father of three -- his kids aged 4, 7, and 14 -- from Raleigh, North Carolina, was recently compelled to take action in light of these nonstop tragedies. Taking to YouTube, Terry Bartley posted a clip of himself sweating in his hot car with the windows rolled up. He said the temperature outside was up to 90 degrees, and there's no mistake what that kind of contained heat can do to the body.

    Bartley has far surpassed his initial aim to get people sharing and talking about his video and raise awareness: His now viral video has reached over 1.2 million views!

    Check it out ...

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    As a mom who's brought her baby to questionable venues from bars to New Year's Eve parties, I'm not one to judge where mothers bring their kids. That's why I was dismayed to hear that a breastfeeding mom with a 4-month-old baby strapped to her chest says she was kicked out of a Brad Paisley concert in San Diego last Thursday, with police arguing that she was endangering her child.

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