Suffocation, strangulation, falls, and electrocutions are common causes of injury to children. This is why there is some truth to the saying "You can't leave a toddler alone for one minute."
In the United States, airway obstruction is the primary cause of unintentional injury-related deaths. An average of 900 infants a year dies from SIDS, short for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Frequently these infants are found lying on their stomachs with noses and mouths covered by pillows and other soft bedding.
Suffocation and choking also often also results when a toy or toy part (such as a puzzle piece), is ingested by a curious toddler. In 2002, 54 percent of toy-related deaths were due to choking and a staggering 43 percent of these involved swallowing balloons. Sadly, 50% of children that die from toy-related injuries are under the age of four.
Strangulation from the misuse of cords, blinds, clothing with drawstrings, straps, plastic wrap and skipping ropes account for approximately 20% of deaths for children below age of 14.
More than 80% of fall-related injuries among children aged 4 and under occur in the home. These common incidents are associated with stairs, the bathtub, walkers and furniture.
According to a study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Association, a hefty 86 percent of all reported electrocutions claimed children under the age of four. These injuries were most occurred at mealtimes, perhaps when the mother was distracted. Common culprits were keys, forks and hairpins that were inserted into electrical outlets.
SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS
In the case of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the child may be lying on his or her stomach, have a bluish or grey skin tone and lack respiration. Call emergency services immediately.
Infants or children that are choking or suffocating demonstrate the following symptoms:
* Difficulty breathing
* Weak sounding crying
* Turning blue (cyanosis)
A parent is usually alerted by cries when a child falls. However, not all falls are detected by a parent. Suspect a fall if your child demonstrates any of the following symptoms:
* Limping or rubbing an affected part of the body
* Sleepiness, inability to concentrate, confusion
* Non-stop crying
Symptoms of electric shock include:
* Muscle contractions
* Tingling or numbness
* Difficulty breathing and respiratory arrest
* Cardiac arrest
You can childproof your home by taking the following measures:
* Install baby-proofing products such as latches for medicine and tool cabinets and caps for electrical outlets
* Install safety gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs
* Keep small and potentially harmful objects such as keys, pins, jewelry, matches and medicines under lock and key and out of reach
* Keep balloons out of reach of toddlers
* Purchase toys that are age appropriate and safe for your children
* Ask your electrician to install "electric safety" switches which cut the power source before people are injured
* Unplug all appliances (blow-dryers, curling irons) after use and put them away
* Keep electric fans and space heaters off the floor and out of the reach of curious fingers
* Tie all dangling cords higher than a toddler's reach and avoid toys and clothing with straps or strings
* At nap time remove all pillows, comforters and soft toys from a crib to avoid SIDS
The best way to prepare yourself for an accident is to take a course in CPR and First Aid so that you can attend to your injured child while waiting for emergency assistance.
Keep the numbers for all emergency response facilities by the phone. Better yet, program these numbers into the speed dial function of your phone.
Do not allow children to inflate balloons. Deflate and discard balloons and balloon pieces after use. Inspect old and new toys regularly for damage and potential hazards. Make any necessary repairs immediately or discard damaged items.
Children under age 8 should not use toys with electrical plugs or batteries.
WHAT TO DO IF THE UNFORTUNATE OCCURS
Don't panic. The most important thing to remember in an emergency is to remain calm. It is also important to practice the following "don'ts":
Don't apply ice to a burn. This slows healing.
Don't move a child who is complaining of neck or back pain.
Don't touch a child who is still "attached" to an electrical current. Switch off the power source and remove the appliance or cord with a non-conductive object such as a rubber spoon or wooden stick.
In the case of choking, give the child five blows on the back, five squeezes to the diaphragm and repeat this process several times. If the object can be seen try and remove it from the child's throat. This is called the Heimlich Maneuver.
In the cases of all accidents, phone immediately for emergency medical assistance!
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