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Airway Obstruction - Prevention

Since most accidental child strangulations, chokings, and suffocations occur in the home, parents are well-advised to carefully childproof their homes. Another preventive step to take is to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and infant and child first-aid before an accident occurs. Other prevention tips include the following:

  • Always supervise young children when they are eating, and make sure they sit down when they have food in their mouths.
  • Keep small items that are a choking hazard out of children's reach. Check under your furniture and between seat cushions for choking hazards, such as coins, marbles, watch batteries, buttons, and/or pen or marker caps.
  • You may want to purchase a small parts tester to help determine which items are choking hazards.
  • Make sure your child plays with age-appropriate toys.
  • Check toys regularly for damage.
  • Remove hood and neck drawstrings from young children's outerwear.
  • Do not allow children to wear necklaces, purses, scarves, or clothing with drawstrings on playground equipment.
  • Tie up or cut all window blind and drapery cords.
  • Avoid hanging anything over the crib that has cords or ribbons longer than seven inches.
  • Do not let children under age 6 sleep on the top bunk of bunk beds (they may strangle or suffocate themselves if they fall).
  • Make sure the spacing between bed guardrails, frames, and all spaces in the head- and foot-boards do not exceed 3.5 inches.
  • Avoid letting your child play on bean bag chairs that contain small foam pellets - if the bean bag chair rips, your child can inhale and choke on the pellets.
  • Do not allow young children to play with shooting toys. An arrow, dart, or pellet can be a choking hazard if shot into a child's mouth.
  • Remember to discard any plastic wrapping the toy came in - plastic wrapping can suffocate a small child.

Infants and sleeping:

The medical community recommends placing infants on their backs in their cribs to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Placing infants on their backs may also reduce the chance of choking, as infants may have a difficult time lifting their heads at first, if they are face down. The crib should adhere to national safety standards, with a firm, flat mattress. Parents should avoid putting soft bedding, toys, and other soft products, pillows, and comforters in the crib with an infant.

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Online Resources of Safety & Injury Prevention

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