Your Child’s Safety is in Your Hands!

Infant Grasping Mother's Finger

Article by Liesl Schott, MD

Every parent has experienced that moment when they’ve stood helplessly by and watched as their child gasped, struggling silently on a piece of hastily swallowed food, heart racing with fear as seconds stretch in waiting for the verdict:  will the moment pass harmlessly with a cough and a breath or is my child’s life in danger?

Among the many overwhelming and difficult tasks of parenting, few may be as crucial as knowing what to do in a life threatening crisis. The daily trials of parenting concerns can seem omnipotent at times. From deciding whether artificial coloring is harmful to choosing the best method for schooling, every action and choice becomes critical to your child’s growth. However, nothing is as consequential or disabling as when the immediate physical health of your child is endangered. Just as any dedicated parent spends long moments pondering the ingredients of chewable vitamins or invests time becoming familiar with the latest trends in healthy discipline, Basic Life Support knowledge and hazard prevention is paramount to your child’s wellbeing. Taking the time to educate yourself could save a life. The investment of time and money is minimal for the reward of providing your child with the most fundamental protection.

When that critical moment is at hand, will you fall to pieces or will you have given yourself the tools to handle the threat? Learning the basics are easy, empowering, provide peace of mind and in some settings can even be a fun bonding experience with your co-parent or other caregivers.

Test your knowledge with some safety trivia:

Q:  The leading cause of death in children is what?

  1. Cancer
  2. Injury
  3. Asthma-related respiratory distress

A:  b) Injury. Accidental injury causes more childhood and young adult deaths than all other causes combined. Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of accidental fatal injury. Drowning, poison, burns, and suffocation are other leading causes of accidental death in children.

Q:  What site is the most common site of childhood drowning?

  1. Local lake or stream
  2. Water amusement park
  3. Home swimming pool

A:  c) Home swimming pool. Between the ages of one and four, home swimming pools are the most likely site for a drowning incident to occur. Drowning is the number one accidental death, after motor vehicle accident, in children and the third cause in infants under 1 year of age (the majority of infant drownings occur in bathtubs). Out of the total of pool submersion deaths, approximately 75 percent occur at home. It has been suggested that up to 90 percent of childhood home drowning incidents could be prevented by four-sided isolation fencing around home pools.

Q:  The most common choking injuries are associated with what items?

  1. Food
  2. Coins
  3. Toys

A:  a) Food, although coins and toys are also highly implicated in choking incidents the majority of choking injuries are food related. The most common food items include nuts, hot dogs, candies, grapes, carrots, and popcorn.

Q:  What is the poison control center 24-hour hotline number?

  1. 1-800-444-4444
  2. 1-800-222-2222
  3. 1-800-222-1222

A:  c) 1-800-222-1222. Posting the poison control hotline number in a convenient, easily accessible place is recommended, but also take a moment to commit it to memory. Unintentional poison exposure in children has been found to include household cleaning substances, cosmetics, vitamins, pesticides, plants, lead, art supplies, toys, alcohol, carbon monoxide and medication. In children under five years of age, 44 percent of poison exposures are attributed to medication.

Q:  Lowering the setting on water heater thermostats to what temperature can prevent hot tap water scalds?

  1. 110 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. 120 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. 140 degrees Fahrenheit

A:  b) 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Scald burns caused by hot liquids are more prevalent among younger children, whereas contact burns caused by direct contact with fire is more commonly seen in older children. Hot tap water burns are associated with more deaths than any other hot liquid burn and tend to cover a larger portion of the body.

Q:  What is the number one cause of accidental death in infants less than 1 year of age?

  1. Motor Vehicle Accident
  2. Falls
  3. Suffocation

A:  c) Suffocation. Most infant suffocation occurs in the bed or crib due to pillows, blankets or cushions. A subgroup of infant suffocation is due to death in an adult bed caused by suffocation as a result of entrapment in the bed structure or entrapment under an adult body.

Q: If an accident renders a child unresponsive, what measures will improve the likelihood of survival?

  1. Keeping the head above the heart by placing the child at a 45 degree angle
  2. Rapid and effective bystander CPR
  3. Allowing the child to lay undisturbed for 15 minutes to give him or her a chance to come around

A:  b) Rapid and effective bystander CPR. CPR is associated with an increased chance for successful return to normal brain and heart functions. Unfortunately, less than half of victims requiring resuscitation outside of the hospital are provided with bystander CPR.

Q: What does CPR stand for?

  1. Cardiac Palpable Regeneration
  2. Capital Preventative Rehabilitation
  3. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

A:  c) Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. CPR helps restore oxygen rich blood to the body and brain when a victim is not breathing or circulating blood effectively. Without oxygen, permanent brain damage and death may occur in as few as eight minutes.

Q:  When performing CPR, how many chest compressions to breaths are given?

  1. Five breaths followed by 10 chest compressions repeated until help arrives
  2. Five breaths followed by 10 compressions in an adult, two breaths followed by five chest compressions in a child repeated until help arrives
  3. 30 compressions and two breaths for child or adult repeated until help arrives

A: c) For a child or an adult, 30 compressions and two breaths. First check for responsiveness. If the child is unresponsive shout for help and begin CPR. In the case of a lone rescuer, deliver five cycles of CPR before stopping to call 911 and finding an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Q:  What is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?

  1. An electronic device that monitors and records the rate and rhythm of the heart
  2. An electronic device that monitors and records brain waves
  3. An electronic device that detects an abnormal heartbeat and delivers a resuscitating shock if necessary

A: c) An electronic device that detects an abnormal heartbeat and delivers a resuscitating shock if necessary. AEDs can be found in many places today, including shopping centers, airports, and restaurants. When used in combination with CPR they can be an effective life saving tool. How to use AEDs is taught in basic life support classes.


Every parent should be educated and competent in CPR and Basic Life Support as it could save the life of their child or others. There are many online and written resources to familiarize oneself with Basic Life Support and CPR. However, there is no substitute for hands-on training. All parents and care providers are encouraged to enroll in a BLS and CPR course for guided training. Recommended sources for CPR classes and information include the Red Cross(www.centex.redcross.org/classes/index.php), the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org) and, in Austin and central Texas, CPR Resources, Inc, (www.cpr-resources.com; 512-292-3130)  who provide an excellent, entertaining, and easily accessible course taught by local firefighters whose goal is to make CPR understandable and easy for anyone. Becoming familiar with safety risk factors and taking preventative measures are also essential to your child’s safety. Safe kids USA maintains a website (www.safekids.org) that provides an excellent online tool for parents, educators and childcare providers to become familiar with injury prevention guidelines for home, play, school, and on the road.

Regardless of age, if there is a child in the home it is the shared responsibility of all members of the household to provide a safe nurturing environment for growth and health. Taking the time to learn safety basics is a non-negotiable building block to the health and wellbeing of you child.  Don’t think about it, do it!

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