Keeping Kids Safe: Common (and Not So Common) Choking Hazards

Keeping kids safe is top on the minds of most parents, but sometimes hazards are just not that obvious. Introducing foods to infants and toddlers can be great fun, but it also brings opportunities for danger. A little knowledge about how to avoid choking can go a long way in avoiding serious emergencies.

I wrote in a previous post about using pixie stix to get kids to take their medicine. I am going to co-opt this old favorite treat for our lesson about choking hazards. What does a powdered candy have to do with choking hazards, you might ask?

The text and photo from this blog demonstrates that kids can make nearly anything into a choking hazard:

pixie_stix

“Looks like fun, right? Probably. But a tube of powdered candy of that size might as well be a loaded gun. It’s frickin dangerous. I know.

When I was thirteen and tried putting the whole mega-Pixie Stick worth of flavored sugar in my mouth, I laughed and inhaled and the moisture in my throat hardened the sugar into a moist sugar ball lodged squarely in my trachea.

One my friends knew the Heimlich maneuver and managed to dislodge the bright blue coagulation into a psychedelic pool of vibrantly scarlet regurgitated Big Red Cola. It was the [last] time I touched either Pixie Stix or Big Red.

It wasn’t my time but I think, when I’m ready, that is exactly how I want to go.”

I love this post for several reasons…

  1. This photo is a pediatrician’s nightmare.
  2. That someone could avoid impaling himself with the sharp plastic tube but instead manage to obstruct his trachea with powdered candy is a mark of real talent. It’s amazing that we have any children left unharmed.
  3. I love the word “frickin” and will try to use it as often as possible in this blog and in my real life. Not to worry, I will avoid using it around kids.
  4. Speaking of near-death-by-food, I almost poked my eye out with a loaf of bread once. That story will probably never make it into this blog, so contact me directly if you’re interested. It is as embarrassing as it sounds….
  5. Though the Olympics was more than a year ago, swimming boys still make me think of Michael Phelps. I love Michael Phelps. I’m not the only one.

Seriously though, while pixie stix are not usually cited as top choking hazards, choking is a real hazard for children, and food is the number one culprit.

It’s amazing what a mostly-toothless little one can manage to eat. Starting at about 9 months of age, babies can begin to manage foods of a variety of textures and shapes. But remember, kids less than 4 years old may not chew, grind, or gum food well and are at great risk for choking. The most common choking hazards are round firm foods (hot dogs, grapes, nuts, popcorn), and sticky/gooey foods like peanut butter or sticky snacks and candies. Chunks of uncooked vegetables and fruits can also make their way down the wrong tube. Candy and gum top the list of foods that send choking children to the emergency room.

Tips for Parents:

How can you prevent choking? Here are a few tips…

  • Take an infant and child CPR class: if you did not take one before your child was born, try to do so by 6 months of age, before your little one starts solids. If you have taken the class, review the course materials as a little refresher.
  • To avert the need to perform these life-saving maneuvers on your child, avoid potentially hazardous food until your child is four to five years old. Cook foods well or cut firm foods into pieces less than 1/2 inch in size.
  • Give your child small portions, adding to his plate as he finishes.
  • Make (and enforce) a household rule that all food is eaten at the table. In a chair. And no eating while running (with scissors). Or playing. Or lying down. Or in a car (or a bus or a taxicab or hot air balloon).
  • Limit distractions (tv, pets, games, clowns) at mealtime.
  • Watch out for “chipmunking”: hoarding food in the cheeks of an eager eater. Kids really do this.
  • Keep helpful older sibs from feeding the little one. They will not provide the same level of supervision that you will.
  • And most importantly, NEVER leave a young child alone while eating.

Useful Links:

Emmas Inspirations

When our daughter Emma was an infant, we moved into our new house. As parents of six children, we were very excited about getting to this new house and getting some much needed unloading done! Pulling into the driveway, we all became very excited and quickly left the car to see the house. There was so much to do – everyone went off in different directions.

I had assumed that my husband or one of the older kids had taken Emma from her car emmas dog and cat-smallseat (as that was almost ALWAYS the case) and he thought that it was me who had brought her inside. Making the assumption that everything was okay, we went about unpacking and arranging our new home.

In a sudden moment of panic, I realized that our baby girl wasn’t even in the house. Nearly 45 minutes after we had arrived, I rushed to our car for Emma. 

The sun was hot for a spring day. I cannot tell you the thoughts and fears, and the horror that welled up inside of me as I was sure I had harmed our baby girl!  I thank God every day that my older son had opened the back window on the ride up because he felt car-sick, or Emma may not have become the vibrant six year old she is today!

From that point on we left notes in all the cars. “Where’s Emma?” was our catch phrase. We were determined to never let this happen to us again.

When my daughter and I read about the school principal who, out of routine, left her baby in the car all day, and the dad who forgot the baby was in his back seat because he didn’t ‘usually’ drop him off at child-care, we were sad and sickened by their tragedies… yet we knew how ‘routine’ oriented we all are today… and how easy it is for this tragedy to take place:

  • An average of 40 children die each year in closed vehicles… and numerous others have been left alone in cars by adults who assume the car is a ‘safe place’ for their children…
  • How many bus drivers do we read about who fail to “check their seats”!
  • What is typically not realized is how quickly the air inside our vehicles can become saunas for our precious little ones… with temperatures escalating 20 to 30, or even 40 degrees higher INSIDE the car than the air OUTSIDE the car! According to an article in New Science Magazine (July 5, 2005) , a study done out of Stanford University re-echoes these facts: cars become ovens, even while outside temperatures are on the ‘cool’ side!
  • Children’s bodies’ heat up 3 to 5 times faster than adults, and a child can be critically injured or tragically dead within minutes!
  • In 2001, according to Kids N Cars, there were approx 20 child deaths due to hyperthermia. As of 6/26/2009 – approximately half-way into 2009 – we already have 15…and it is estimated that the data vastly underestimates the safety issue.

My daughter and I remembered our ‘notes’. I thought of easy ways to leave a ‘note’ affixed to car windows, in key spots, to help remind us to “check the seats before we leave”. We decided to design decals to help save lives, as well as awaken our awareness of the dangers of vehicle suffocation for small children and pets! This is how we came up with Emma’s Inspirations.

I came up with the idea of static-cling decals to adhere (but not STICK with adhesive) to the car windows. I wanted to add a couple of ‘check’ marks to the decals with a stick figure boy and girl (some with a cat and dog added as well) and add a phrase that rhymed to increase the ease of remembering the dangers of suffocation for adults… and to educate children as well. I thought the phrase would help develop a new mindset for everyone… and help educate our children about automobile safety- the same way we educate them about outlet and toaster safety.

I thought 3 decals for each car was a good idea so I put them together in packages of 6 … enough for two cars. One could be placed just above the driver’s side window door-lock, another just below the rear-view mirror, (or the left corner of the windshield), and one for the back window corner. Some moms stick one on the kitchen window as well; to remind them to keep any cars outside LOCKED from little hands or hide and seek players! Others place one on or above their house alarm to remind them to check the seats.

Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post wrote a painfully candid article on this subject on Sunday, March 8, 2009. He recounts the tragedy of three families as they endure the heartache of recognition that their children died a horrifically “modern” death; they suffocated in seats their parents never took a second glance in! These are situations no family ever would have anticipated.

Emma’s window decals are that little reminder you need when things are moving at a fast pace. By sticking these decals in the right places you will have a simple and affordable reminder to check again. A reminder so simple …yet one that could save your child’s life!

HEALTHFUL HINTS

Many parents are unaware of the dangers lurking around parked cars. According to the Kids N Cars national database, there are a number of injuries that can happen in a ‘MOMENT’ to children left unattended in or around motor vehicles. Here are just a few things to watch for:

  • A child can suffocate in unattended vehicles;
  • Children can get their heads and hands caught in power windows;
  • They can inadvertently shift the car into gear…or fall out windows and doors;
  • “Frontovers” and “Backovers” are responsible for approx 61% of non-traffic fatalities for children under the age of 15;
  • We must be of a mind to NEVER LEAVE OUR CHILDREN ALONE IN OR AROUND CARS.

 The decals from Emma’s Inspirations are an accident prevention tool to remind us to DOUBLE CHECK our seats, REMOVE any passengers, and LOCK our EMPTY parked cars from curious little ones. Other areas where safety stickers can keep your children safe from harm:

  • ID stickers for child safety seats – if you were ever in an accident, it would provide key information about your child to caregivers that you may be unable to communicate. You can usually get these at your local pharmacy or stationery store…
  • You might want to place a decal or sticker on a house or apartment window or door to alert emergency personnel to the presence of children in the home.
  • Poison Control stickers should be placed on phones themselves or next to the phone and/or on an inside cabinet door.
  • Medical alert bracelets or anklets or stickers or decals on a child’s seat or diaper bag or person to warn of potentially life-threatening allergies.
  • Decals and stickers are good to remind ‘no metal’ in the microwave or toaster.
  • Stickers and decals are small, yet significant aids in helping us keep track of the never ending flow of “things to remember to mention” or ”do” or “watch out for”… as we manage the literal “ins” and “outs” of our days… and care for the people, who at the end of our day, we do it ALL for… our children!

November is National Adoption Month: Help a Child Celebrate

you dont have to be perfectDid you know it would take less than one percent of the U.S. population to provide a forever family for every child in foster care available for adoption? November is National Adoption Month and Pediatric Safety as a member of Global Influence is participating in a coordinated effort between Adopt Us Kids, the U.S. Children’s Bureau, Ad Council, and Child Welfare Information Gateway to make the difference of a lifetime for about 130,000 children who deserve a family of their own.

The mission of Adopt Us Kids is to recruit and connect foster and adoptive families with waiting children throughout the United States. Funded by the Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families, the national photolisting website contains photos and information about children in foster care.

If you’re considering foster parenting or adopting…

  • The Adopt Us Kids website has information about foster parenting, the seven step journey to fostering/adoption, and lots more useful information.
  • Information about adoption subsidies is available
  • Every state has its own guidelines on adoption. You can find this information here
  • You can search for children in your state or area who are in need of an adoptive family here at the Adopt Us Kids website:
  • If you would like to speak with someone regarding the adoption process, you can reach AdoptUsKids at 1-888-200-4005.

A national adoption public service advertising recruitment campaign was launched in July 2004 in a partnership of the Children’s Bureau, the Ad Council, and Adopt Us Kids, with the goal of raising awareness of the significant number of children in this country waiting to be adopted. New Public Service Announcements have been developed as an extension of this highly successful campaign.

If you just want to help…

Adoption/fostering is not for everyone, but there are things that you can do, such as provide respite care for families and lots more! You can reach out to your state rep (contact info here) to get more info.

Each one of us can play a role in helping a child find their forever family…

adoptuskids

This campaign is brought to you by Global Influence, the former Momfluence network.

We Received a Blog Award for Great Attitude or Gratitude :)

lemonade stand award

We are so proud that our blog received the Lemonade Stand award for great attitude or gratitude from Amy at Harvest for Tomorrow. She also has a terrific blog, so please check hers out!

The rules for this award:- Put the Lemonade logo on your blog or within your post.- Nominate at least 10 blogs with Great Attitude or Gratitude.- Link the nominees within your post.- Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.- Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

We are passing this award on to some folks who are definitely worth stopping by.  Here they are (in no particular order):

Thanks again Amy!  We can’t tell you how much this means to us!

Shy Doesn’t Have to Mean Alone: Help Your Shy Kid Join the Fun

If your child is shy, chances are he was born with a more introverted, sensitive personality. So this is not about trying to turn him into an shy girlextrovert. After all, you can’t change your child’s personality and natural temperament. But you can help your child learn the skills he needs (and deserves) to feel more comfortable and confident with other kids. And that is doable because of this fact: shyness doesn’t have to be debilitating. So let’s focus on what you can do to enhance your kid’s abilities to find, make, and keep friends. Here are secrets from THE BIG BOOK OF PARENTING SOLUTIONS to help a shy child fit in and feel more comfortable in social situations.

  1. Model eye contact. One of the most common traits of well-liked kids use is that they use eye contact. In fact the average person spends 30 to 60 percent of the time looking at the other person’s face. As you’re talking with your child say: “Look at me.” or “Put your eyes on my eyes.” or “I want to see your eyes.” If your kid is uncomfortable about using eye contact, tell her: “Look at the bridge of my nose.”
  2. Praise prior success. It’s natural for a shy child to focus on past failures. So help her recall previous experiences when things went really well. “Remember last year’s swimming lessons? You begged not to go, but did and met a new friend.” “Before you went to Sara’s birthday party last month you wanted to stay home. But when you agreed to stay at least a half an hour and you ended up one of the last ones to leave.”
  3. Reinforce smiling! One of the most common characteristics of confident, well-liked kids is that they smile and smile. So whenever your child displays a smile, reinforce it: “What a great smile!” or “That smile of yours always wins people over.” Also, point out how your child’s smile affects others: “Do see how kids smile back when you smile?” “That little boy saw your smile and came over to play. Your smile let him know you were friendly.”
  4. Debrief a stressful event. If your kid has had a really embarrassing attack of shyness find a time to discuss what happened and she could handle it better next time. “It sounds like you really didn’t like being with so many kids. What if you only invite one friend at a time?” “So what really bugged you was asking Kevin face to face. Why not ask him on the phone next time?”
  5. Reinforce any social efforts. Any and every effort your child makes to be even a tad more social deserves a pat on the back: “I saw how you walked up to that new boy today. Good for you!” “I noticed that you really made an effort to say hello to Sheila’s mom. She looked so pleased!”
  6. Schedule warm up time. Some kids take longer to warm up in a social setting, so give your child time to settle in. Be patient and don’t push too quickly. Let her watch a bit, figure out what’s up, and set her own time frame to join in.
  7. Help him fit in. All kids need to feel as comfortable as possible when they’re with their friends. So make sure your son or daughter has a cool hair cut, the “in” pair of sneakers, backpack, jacket, or pair of jeans. It can make a big difference in boosting a kid’s comfort level.
  8. Rehearse social situations. Prepare your kid for an upcoming social event by describing the setting, expectations, and other kids who will be there. Then help him practice how to meet others, table manners, making small talk, and even how to say good-bye. Doing so will decrease some of the anxiety he’s bound to have from being in a new setting. Hint: A shyer child often feels less threatened practicing social skill with a younger, more immature kids than children his own age.
  9. Create One-To-One Time. Many kids can be overwhelmed in groups, so limit the number of friends to one at a time. Then gradually increase the number as she gains confidence.

Remember: your role is not to try and change your child’s basic temperament and personality but instead to help him warm up, open up, and join the fun having friends can bring. Simple, little changes can reap big results.

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Dr Borba’s new book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions has just been released and is now available at amazon.com

Tweeners and Innovation

inflatseatbelt-smallFor the purpose of this discussion a tweener is a child who has outgrown a car seat and is too small for a conventional shoulder and lap belt configuration. The proper course of action to secure this group is to use booster seats. However, three states have no laws requiring the use of booster seats and in many others the requirements are vague and not enforced. In most cases of a tweener a shoulder belt does not fit correctly and the lap belt by itself is dangerous. Not knowing better many parents will tuck the shoulder belt behind the child, unaware of the hazard this poses.

Ford recently demonstrated a new shoulder harness with an air bag built into it. This is a tremendous improvement for all- especially for children. Regardless of the law in your state, regardless of whether you are required to use a booster seat- do it for the safety and life of your child. For more information on the new airbag and a compelling story to use booster seats please see the following Today Show video.