What Grandparents Need to Know About Child Safety
This week's post is by Gail Gould, a CPR and safety expert who has some life-saving tips for grandparents.
I often shudder at the thought of how close I came to not being a mom and what my life would look like without my precious son.
I got married at 36 years old and started trying to get pregnant at age 39. After unsuccessfully trying for a few years, we gave up. Still, something inside of me knew that a childless life was not for me. My husband and I went on an adoption journey that lasted 8 long years. My son came into my life at age 49 and it has been the best 17 years of my life! I do not take a single day for granted with my son, and I sometimes become upset when I see parents who leave their toddler unattended in the car or parents who are not paying attention while their children are swimming.
I have been a professional CPR instructor for over 30 years and have trained 10,000 people to save lives. My mission is to CPR train as many parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers as possible. I think it should be required for all new parents to take a CPR course prior to bringing baby home! I am not in charge, though, so this is currently not a requirement.
Studies show that 70% of parents would not know how to respond in a medical or injury emergency. Knowing how to perform CPR and choking relief is very important. Possibly even more important is prevention, since it is best to never need CPR in the first place. Survival rates for children who lose consciousness and stop breathing are only 4-13%.
So, here are a few prevention tips that all parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers should follow:
Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for children and adolescents. In 2017, there were 1000 children who died as a result of unintentional drowning.
Children under the age of 1 most often drown in bathtubs, buckets or toilets and it only takes about 2” of water for drowning to happen. Do not leave young children unattended in or around bathtubs, buckets of water, fountains or toilets. And if you think this is unusual and does not ever happen, go to Google News and search for “infant drowning bathtub”.
Toddlers most often drown in residential swimming pools. If you have a pool in your backyard, make 100% certain there is a fence around the pool and the yard. Formal swim lessons reduced the likelihood of drowning by 88%. American Academy of Pediatrics recommends starting swim lessons such as Mommy and Me at age 1.
An adult should always be actively watching children in and around water. Use “touch supervision.” This means that an adult should always be arm’s length away or be able to touch the child at all times. Supervision by an older child or even lifeguard is not safe substitution for adult supervision.
Make certain all kids wear life jackets around natural bodies of water such as lakes or the ocean even if they know how to swim. (Note from DeeDee—if you missed my July newsletter, read how I learned this important rule here.)
Injuries are the #1 cause of death for children and adolescents ages 1 to 21. In 2018, around 9.2 million children had an ER visit for an unintentional injury and 12,175 children ages 0-19 died from unintentional injuries.
Injuries suffered while riding in cars are the #1 preventable cause of death in young children. Of the children 12 years old and younger who died in a crash in 2017 (for which restraint use was known), 35% were not buckled up. For example, even in a low-speed crash, an infant or small child can crash into the windshield with the same force as if you dropped them from a 3rd story window.
The safest place for a child to ride is in the rear middle seat up until the age of 13. Do not seat your children in front of an airbag, which can be deadly. While most families put kids in car seats, the latest research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 59 percent of car seats are not installed correctly. The best way to ensure proper installation is to take your grandchild’s car seat to be installed/inspected by a car seat safety specialist. Find out more about car seat safety on the NHTSA website.
It is not a good idea to feed children while they are riding in your car. Choking is mostly silent and I have encountered several moms who were forced to stop their car and administer choking relief to their children while in the car.
CHOKING AND SUFFOCATION
Choking is the #1 cause of unintentional death for infants under the age of one and fourth most common cause of death in children. Avoid giving children under the age of 3 or 4 food such as whole hot dogs, raisins, whole grapes, uncut cherry tomatoes, popcorn, raw carrots, chunks of meat, peanuts, hard candy, chunks of peanut butter or any other similar food that can block their airway and cause choking.
Supervise mealtime for young children. Many choking cases occur when older children offer unsafe foods to a younger child.
No running or playing with food in mouths.
Latex balloons can also pose a serious choking hazard to small children.
Know the difference between choking and gagging. Gagging is loud, noisy, coughing, you may hear gurgling, beet red face, tongue thrust forward, and possible vomiting. The gag reflex is there to keep your child/grandchild from choking. Do not intervene and let your child/grandchild work this out.
Choking, on the other hand, is quiet. You will hear little or no noise, weak ineffective cough, pale face, blue lips, concave chest, or a high-pitch crowing noise. This is when you need to immediately intervene with choking relief for the infant or child.
The saying I like to use is “Loud and red, let them go ahead. Silent and blue, they need help from you.”
Just a few more brief tips:
Take a CPR/First Aid class! The American Heart Association recommends taking a CPR/First Aid training every two years. You will forget it if you wait much longer than that.
Do not let anyone babysit or care for your child/grandchild unless they know choking relief techniques.
Prevention is the key with children! Most of the things we call accidents could have prevented if we as parents/grandparents had been doing our job correctly.
Gail Gould empowers people to learn how to save a life through CPR and choking relief. She has trained over 10,000 people in CPR and is the creator of the How to Help Your Choking Child Mini Course. Follow her on Instagram: @thecprandsafetylady