Accidents can happen.  However, we can take precautionary measures to protect our family from injuries at home.  In the first blog post of our Home Accidents blog series, we learned about preventing and applying first aid in the event of a fall, cuts, scrapes, and glass-related accidents at home.  In this blog post, we continue to look at more common accidents in the house. 

1.   Choking

Choking happens when food or object is lodged in the throat or windpipe hence, blocking the airway.  It can happen to babies and young children alike.

Here are signs of choking. The child is

·       Coughing forcefully but cannot seem to get the object or food out of the airway.

·       Coughing weakly or is producing a squeaky sound when breathing.

·       Not able to cry, cough, speak or breathe.

·       Clutching onto his/her throat.

·       Unconscious and unresponsive.

How to Prevent Choking:

·       When bottle-feeding, you should cradle the baby in your arms in a semi-upright position and then hold the baby bottle at 45 degrees.

·       Do not let the baby drink milk while lying down.

·       Keep all small objects such as marbles, coins, buttons, toys with small parts, batteries, beads out of reach of the children.

·       Check the toys you give your child.  Do not give toys with small detachable pieces.  You may use the age recommendation of the toy to know if it’s appropriate for your child.

·       Always cut the child’s food into small pieces. Children commonly choke on whole grapes, apples, sausages, carrots, and jelly.

·       Avoid giving nuts, popcorn, marshmallows, chewy candies, and hard candies. 

·       Always stay with your child while he/she is eating.

What to do when a child ages 1 to 8 year old is choking:

·       If the child appears to be coughing forcefully, encourage him/her to cough.

·       If the child’s airway is blocked, having difficulty breathing, but is still conscious, give the child a combination of back blows (between the shoulder blades) and abdominal thrusts. Have someone call 112 while doing the steps. To do the abdominal thrusts, you should:

o   Stand behind the child and wrap it around his/her waist. 

o   Make a fist with your hand with the thumb side in. 

o   Place your hands below the chest and above the navel. 

o   Grab your fist with your other hand. 

o   Press the abdomen with an upward push. 

o   Do the upward push until the object or food comes out.

What to do when an infant (less than 1-year-old) is chocking

·       For an infant, who can no longer breathe, make sounds, or cough, have someone call 112 while doing the steps below:

Give Back Blows

o   Place the baby's face down on your forearm, let your arm rest on your thigh 

o   With the heel of your other hand, give the infant five quick, forceful blows between the shoulder blades. 

If this fails, do the next step,

Give Chest Thrusts

o   Turn the infant on her back so that the head is lower than the chest.

o   Place your two fingers in the middle center of the breast bone below the nipples. 

o   Press inward five times. 

o   Give a series of back blows and chest thrusts until the piece of food or object is out.

·       Do not put your fingers in the child’s mouth unless you see the object to avoid pushing the thing or food in further.

·       If the child cannot breathe, call the emergency hotline number 112 immediately.

·       While waiting for the ambulance,

o   Make sure that the child is lying on his back. Make sure that the head, neck, and back are supported.

o   Tilt the child’s head and lift the chin to open the airway. Check for signs of life (e.g., pulse, movement, or breathing) for no more than ten seconds.

o   If the child is still not breathing, provide two rescue breaths.

o   If the breaths go in, check for a pulse and scan for any bleeding.  If your child has a pulse but is not breathing, give rescue breathing.  If no signs of life, administer CPR or use AED, but only if you are trained to do so. 

2.     Burns

Toddler boy in a dangerous situation at home_Domestic accident

Heat, cold, chemicals, electricity, or the sun can cause burns. Burns are classified depending on the depth. The four degrees of burn are:

·       First-degree burns are superficial burns only

·       Second-degree burns hurt the outer layer and the layer underneath. The skin is bright red but no blisters.

·       Third-degree burns destroy the two layers of the skin.

·       Fourth-degree burns destroy all the layers of the skin, including the muscles, tendons, and bones.

How to prevent burns and scalds:

·       Ensure that bath water temperature is lukewarm before putting the baby in the bathtub. 

·       Do not hold the baby while you are in front of the stove cooking.

·       Do not leave the stove unattended.

·       Keep hot soup or drinks away from the kids.  Put them in the center of the table or a place they cannot reach.

·       Keep hot devices such as hair curlers and flat iron out of reach. Do not leave it plugged and unattended.

·       Check the food temperature before letting your child eat the food.

·       Cover the electrical sockets with safety covers.

·       Keep the cords out of the way.

·       Do not leave the grill unattended.

·       If you have a fireplace, install a fence.

·       Keep all flammable materials, matches, lighters in a safe place.

·       Unplug chargers when not in use.

·       Install an approved fire alarm in your home.

·       Make sure the kids use sunscreen before they head out.

What to do when a child gets burned:

·       Call the emergency hotline number when:

o   The burn involves the head, neck, mouth, nose.

o   The child has difficulty in breathing.

o   A large part of the body is burned.

o   The burn affects the hands, feet, or genitals.

o   The burn is a result of a chemical or electrocution.

·       While waiting for help, you may do the following:

o   Take off the child’s clothing except for fabric that is sticking to the burn.

o   Run cool water over the burned area.

o   Apply a clean gauze bandage lightly over the burned area.

o   You may give a pain reliever if the child is conscious.

o   Avoid putting ointments or cream over the area.

o   Do not touch or break the blisters, if any.

o   Elevate the burned area above the child’s heart, if possible. 

3.     Bruises

Your child may get bruises from hitting a hard object or falling accidentally.  Check the tips on preventing bruises from our previous blogpost, 12 Home Accidents:  Causes, Prevention, and First Aid  Part 1.

What to do when a child gets bruised:

·       Rest the injured area.

·       Put an ice pack on the bruised area for 10 to 20 minutes.

·       If the bruised area is swelling, use the elastic bandage.  Ensure that wrapping is not too tight.

·       Elevate the affected area above the child’s heart.

·       Consult your family doctor if:

o   The child experiences painful swelling in the bruised area

o   You notice frequent and painful bruises, especially if you cannot identify what caused them.

o   There is a lump on the bruise.

o   Sudden bruising with no apparent reason.

o   You have a family history of easy bruising or bleeding.

Watch out for the next week’s blog post as we will tackle causes, prevention, and first-aid for bruises, sprains, strains, poisoning, drowning, strangulation, and suffocation.

Tiny Steps

We play, learn, and grow with children.

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