Accidents Happen

Dear Parents,

Accidents, by their nature, are unexpected events. At the least, they are unpleasant, but can be fatal at the most extreme. Not all accidents are preventable but one can reduce their occurrence by looking at the common incidents, determining their cause, and then taking action to prevent reoccurrence in one’s own family.

The other day I read about a 5-year-old who had a whole grape stuck in his windpipe. Although he was able to breathe around it, the grape was firmly lodged in place and had to be surgically removed. It is a reminder to all of us that grapes should continue to be cut in half for our preschoolers. It also led me to some further information.

Hard candy is the leading cause of choking in children 14 and under, many of those children needing treatment in the emergency rooms. Doctors advise never giving hard candy or gum to children 4 years of age or younger. Doctors further advise that children should not walk, run, play or lay down with food in their mouths. Establishing the rule of sitting while eating may prevent choking incidents. Plus, it is a good habit to get into in its own right.

I was surprised to read that a child is treated for a falling television-related injury every 30 minutes. That count doesn’t include the children were not injured seriously enough for medical attention. TV wall anchoring devices are inexpensive, easy to install, and much preferable to a late-night run to the emergency room. Parents can and should anchor tall bookshelves, dressers and buffets to the wall. You may have done all of this when your child first became mobile, but if you have moved or acquired new furniture since then, you may not have realized there was an ongoing need for vigilance.

Parents cannot stop falls from happening. Children sprain ankles, break bones, and sustain head injuries. However, parents can reduce the chances and the seriousness of falls. For example, parents can dictate that children wear helmets when they are riding wheels, skis or horses. Parents can make household safety rules such as “No jumping on the bed,” or “Only one child at a time on the trampoline,” and “No running inside buildings.” Parents can teach safe play behavior, such as “No shoving or crowding at the top of the slide,” and “No climbing higher than mom’s shoulder.”

And when the accident couldn’t be avoided? That is why all parents should take a class in first aid, or review the procedures. The American Red Cross, local parks departments, schools, and fire stations frequently offer first aid courses, along with babysitter training and CPR certification. One can also find help through library books and online. Be diligent in scoping out danger, enforce safety rules, and be prepared.

Evelyn Satterlee, M.Ed.

P.S I want to share an earlier letter on the benefit of exposing preschoolers to music and musical activities because it’s worth reading a second time.

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