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Dad warns parents of dangers lurking in store aisles

Julie Ryan Evans is an editor and writer who has covered everything from Capitol Hill to the politics of preschool. A mother of two, a runner of races, and a gourmet chef wannabe, she currently lives outside of Orlando, Florida.

4-year-old hurt when 'inactive' motor on store display gets switched on

Joe Pitt was looking to pick up a little fishing gear when he stopped in Dick's Sporting Goods in Naples, Florida. He had his four kids in tow walking through the store — two with him, and two just a few feet behind him — when suddenly he heard screams from his 4-year-old daughter, Kaylee.

A heart-stopping moment for any parent, it was only amplified when he saw blood coming from her finger. He says her hand was on a trolling motor (used by boats) when her 7-year-old brother, Jake, turned it on, causing it to strike Kaylee's finger. Joe says there were no guards and no signs warning that the motors were hooked up to working batteries.

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"It was an accident waiting to happen no matter what," Pitt said. "It was horrible, horrible on their [the store's] part; there was no reason to have them plugged in."

Fortunately it was a small injury, and a Band-Aid fixed up Kaylee's finger, with no need for medical attention, but the event was scary nonetheless, both for Joe and for his daughter. He said she woke up a couple of nights later, screaming, "My hand is gone! My hand is gone!"

4-year-old hurt when 'inactive' motor on store display gets switched on

Joe said he didn't believe the store originally took the situation seriously enough, as he was just given a $150 gift certificate and sent on his way. What he really wanted to see is change: "The store should have taken safety precautions," he said.

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SheKnows contacted Dick's Sporting Goods for comment on the incident this morning, and the company responded by following up with Joe and providing the following statement: "We take the safety of our customers very seriously. We spoke with Mr. Pitt this morning to ensure his daughter was well and to apologize to them both. We also let Mr. Pitt know that we are investigating this matter further to prevent this from happening again."

So hopefully some good will come out of this incident and prevent any future injuries of this manner. However, the Pitt family's predicament is a stark reminder to parents that dangers lurk in the aisles of most any store.

The most reported injury comes from shopping carts: Annually 24,000 children younger than 15 years of age — or 66 children per day — are treated in emergency rooms for some sort of cart-related incident.

Add to that sharp tools in home improvement stores or heavy items pulled down from shelves while a parent's back is turned, and a quick shopping jaunt with your kids can turn into something much more serious in the blink of an eye.

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It's easy to say that parents should just watch their children, but the fact is that we can't have our eyes on them every second. Accidents happen in a split second. Parents can do their best to prepare for a shopping trip by knowing what kind of dangers might exist in any given store and warning children to not touch things frequently. Hopefully stores will do their part too, but as this story illustrates, parents can't always count on that.

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