One of the best parts of Christmas is watching the joy on your kids’ faces as they open their gifts. But if you have young children, there are some precautions you will want to take to make sure the holiday stays happy.
Toddlers especially tend to be drawn to anything small they can stick in their mouths. It’s their way of exploring the world. So, it’s natural that the tiny pieces from toys and the small batteries used to operate some of those toys are irresistible to small mouths, making then a choking hazard. With the hustle and bustle of Christmas, play-time can turn into a life-threatening emergency in the blink of an eye.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), one U.S. child chokes to death approximately every five days; and 75 percent of choking deaths occur in children under the age of 3 years, making choking a leading cause of death in infants and toddlers. (AAP). A gag reflex often protects children from choking, but because a child’s windpipe is narrow (about the size of a drinking straw’s diameter) compared to that of an adult they are at far greater risk of choking than someone older.
Here are some tips on toy-safety from AAP:
- Closely monitor young children with any new toy even toys that meet safety standards can be a choking hazard.
- Select toys to suit the age, abilities, skills and interest level of the intended child.
- Look for toys without small pieces. Young children can choke on small parts contained in toys or games. Government regulations specify that toys for children under age 3 cannot have parts less than 1 1/4 inches in diameter and 2 1/4 inches long.
- Remove tags, strings, and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children. Watch for pull toys with strings that are more than 12 inches long, because they could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
- Keep all loose batteries boxed up and in a locked drawer or on a shelf that is well out of reach. And, as recommended by the AAP, parents, and caregivers should tape battery compartments closed on all electronic items. Also discard used batteries safely.
- Sign-up for toy recall notices from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Emergency care for choking in infants and toddlers
Should you suspect that your baby is choking, here are the steps the American Safety and Health Institute recommends you take:
- Act quickly!
- Have a bystander call 911.
- Deliver 5 back blows: — Lay the infant face down over your forearm with her legs straddled and with her head lower than her chest. Support the head by holding the jaw. — Using the heel of the other hand, give 5 back blows between shoulder blades
- Give 5 chest thrusts: — Sandwich the infant between your forearms and turn onto the back. — Place two fingers on the breastbone just below nipple line and give five chest thrusts — Repeat back blows and chest thrusts until the infant can breathe normally.
- If the infant becomes unresponsive, begin infant CPR.
Small children and babies aren’t only at risk for a choking incident during the holidays but throughout the year. So make it your New Year’s resolution to keep your loved ones safe by taking a first aid, AED, and CPR class in 2019. Check TSS’s online calendar to find out about our upcoming AED & CPR classes.