Carey Goltzman, MD, Chief of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine with Children’s and Women’s Physicians of Westchester (CWPW) in Valhalla www.cwpw.org, points out that he and his colleagues have seen their fair share of unintentional accidents involving children in and around the home. “Injury is the greatest cause of death of children 15 years and under, and 35% of these happen at home,” Dr. Goltzman says. “And there are many ways accidents can happen at home.”
The kitchen and the bathroom can pose countless hazards for unsupervised children, Dr. Goltzman says — everything from burns and scalding to toxic substances kept under the sink. Outdoors, pools and hot tubs are obvious potential drowning hazards. An unattended barbecue grill can be very dangerous as well causing a potential burn injury. Sheds and garages also may have tools and toxic substances that can pose dangers as well. “Toxic substances are always something to worry about” with children, Dr. Goltzman adds.
Substances don’t have to be poisonous to cause concern, Dr. Goltzman says. Many over-the-counter medications can pose dangers to children, particularly pain relievers such as aspirin, Motrin or Tylenol, if taken in large quantities. “There needs to be child-proofing of the home,” Dr. Goltzman insists, to protect children from such hazards. Children can get hurt by reaching for an item on a cabinet that tumbles on top of them, from an unsteady window air conditioner, or by falling on slippery floors and steps. “The injuries I’ve seen are astounding,”
Parents, older siblings and any caregiver should also have a good understanding of CPR and life support, Dr. Goltzman states. Since children have a smaller airway than adults, they can choke more easily while eating, or on any foreign matter. Caregivers should know an age-appropriate Heimlich maneuver that will dislodge the foreign body without harming the child.
Dr. Goltzman urges that these important steps be taken to prepare to react appropriately should a child need medical attention:
1. Program all house phones to call 911.
2. Pre-program a poison control number in every phone.
3. Have the name and number of your pediatrician and the local hospital programmed in all phones.
4. Know parents’ work phone and mobile phone numbers.
5. Know your neighbors’ names and phone numbers in case you need assistance.
6. Always have a fully stocked first-aid kit on hand.
Preparation, prevention and supervision are key to keeping children safe at home. “You have to have all these items ready,” Dr. Goltzman insists, “before an accident occurs!”
About Children's & Women's Physicians of Westchester, LLP
Children's & Women's Physicians of Westchester is one of the largest pediatric practices in the nation comprised of dedicated doctors and health professionals committed to providing comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care to women, infants, children and adolescents. The practice is located throughout the greater New York Metropolitan area, extending from New York City, throughout the Hudson Valley, including Westchester, Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and Orange Counties as well as in Southern Connecticut. For information on our medical specialties and office locations visit our website at www.cwpw.org.