As all parents know, children are very accident prone. From mobility-related falls to a tendency for exploration, there are pitfalls and potential problems everywhere. In their eyes, the world is an adventure without limitations and therefore, there is no reason not to put that small toy in their mouths or take a giant bite of that delicious cake.
Luckily for these little adventurers, we are here as their parents to take care of them. That’s why it is essential that anyone taking care of children – from parents to teachers and nursery staff – know exactly how to prevent any mishaps. Even more importantly, we need to know what to do in case a serious incident does occur.
Some of the most common accidents that happen around children are also the most serious and potentially life-threatening. Choking and strangulation are accidents that can happen in the blind of an eye and all can have devastating consequences. Take some time to learn how to avoid creating higher-risk situations; it could save a child’s life.
Although accidents involving choking and strangulation can happen at any time, there are certain circumstances to watch out for. Here’s our quick tips for safety in high-risk situations.
Mealtime can be a high-risk situation for choking, for both children and adults! Make sure to follow these guidelines to reduce risks for your children:
- Children should always eat sitting in a high-chair or sitting on a chair at a table. The risk of choking greatly increases if a child is lying down, sitting sideways or leaning forwards or backwards. Even if a child is sitting up when given them food, for example on the floor, they may think it is still time to play and begin to move around into an unsafe position. Have a clear routine that instils ‘eating time is sitting up time’ so your child can learn the difference.
- Cut soft food up into small pieces. This is especially important for younger children under the age of 5.
- Encourage your child to chew all foods properly. Attempting to swallow whole food items is a huge risk for choking. If your child seems to be having difficulties chewing or swallowing, seek medical advice to ensure there are no underlying issues.
- Soft fruits such as grapes, cherry tomatoes and large berries should be quartered lengthwise. Hard fruits and vegetables should be large enough for the child’s little hand to hold and gnaw off.
- Discard the food (preferably in compost area) when it is too small as it could get stuck in your child’s windpipe.
- Children learn how to chew, swallow and cough when given the opportunity to do so.
Toys are, of course, a great source of joy for children and parents alike. Watching your child’s face light up as they let loose their imagination and laugh and play, is one of the wonders of parenthood. Regrettably, some toys and some types of playing can be a huge hazard. Here’s some tips on ensuring playtime stays enjoyable for you and your children.
- Make sure any toy you give to your child meets the legal guidelines. In the UAE, there are two separate guidelines you should know about. Firstly, look for a GSO safety sticker. Toys with this sticker have passed the Gulf Standardisation Organisation regulations for toy manufacturing safety. This applies to manufactures and distributors within the UAE.
Secondly, look for the Abu Dhabi Trustmark. As of 2014, the Abu Dhabi Quality and Conformity Council awards this Trustmark to toys in Abu Dhabi for children up to the age of 14 that comply with UAE safety standards and requirements.
- Buy for the child’s age. Even if you think your child could ‘handle’ an older child’s toy, remember that the suggested age range on a toy isn’t just referring to the developmental side of a child’s age. It is marked for other reasons, such as the size of the parts related to the physical size of a child. The guidelines are there for good reason; follow them!
- Before giving any toy to a child, check it. Even if your child is within the correct age limits for the toy, and the toy has all the necessary safety markings, you still need to check it. It may be highly unlikely, but markings and stickers can be faked, and places sell knock-off toys. It’s up to you to do the final check! Look for small parts, rough edges and loose parts.
- Supervise your child visually at all times.
Household Items and Small Items
- Any household item has the potential to become dangerous to a small child. As adults, we may not see that potential because we simply haven’t considered it or the item has ‘faded into the background’ to us because we are so used to its presence. Here are some tips on preventing accidents caused by household items.
- Take some time in each room of your house and try to see those everyday items through a child’s eyes. The boring old vacuum cleaner sitting in the corner? To a small child, that’s a brand new ‘thing’ to be explored. Not only does it probably have small parts that can easily be pulled off, but it’s likely to have a cord that could get trapped around a child’s neck causing strangulation.
- Choose a room in your home that your child will not be able to enter. Use this room for keeping household and small items in.
- Do a sweep of your house specifically looking for items that can cause strangulation. This includes curtain strings, blind cords, ribbons, wool and jewellery especially necklaces.
- Don’t forget that even items designed for children’s use can be a hazard. Make sure to remove scarves, bibs etc from your child when not in use. During their playtime, supervise your child constantly if they are playing with these items.
Signs to Look Out For
The following information is restated from the First Aid Manual, by St John Ambulance, St Answer’s First Aid and the British Red Cross.
If you suspect a child is choking, ask them “Are you choking?” If the child is able to speak, cough and breathe, they may have a mild obstruction. If they are unable to answer, coughing or not breathing, they may have a severe obstruction.
Check for a constricting article around the child’s neck or marks around their neck. They may be presenting difficult breathing, impaired consciousness and have grey-blue coloured skin. They may also have prominent veins and tiny spots on their face or the whites of their eyes.
You may consider completing a first aid course so that you are trained in what to do should a child begin to choke or get strangled.
Of course, safety and precaution does not end at home. Whether you’re ‘out and about’ or even at school, it is important to be aware of choking and strangulation risks. Talk to your children’s school teachers or nursery leaders and find out what steps they have taken to ensure risks are minimised.
At Little Land Nursery and Montessori Centre, our staff are provided with first aid training as part of our commitment to Continuing Education. There are also two registered nurses employed at the nursery. Contact Little Land today to find out more about our nursery.
You can call us on: +971 4 394 4471 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more information or book a personal tour, visit our website: www.littlelandnursery.com.