GUN SAFETY AND CHILDREN

Nearly half of all households in the United States have one or more guns.  So even if you do not have a gun in your own household, your child is likely to be exposed to a household that does at some point in time.
It is important to talk to your child about gun safety and what to do if he finds one.
In 1999, 3,385 children between the ages of 0-19 were killed with a gun.  Of these deaths: 73 were children less than 5 years old, 416 were 5-14 years old, and 2,896 were 15-19 years old.

Teach your child the following rules regarding gun safety if he comes in contact with a gun:

  • Stop
  • Don’t touch
  • Remove yourself from the area
  • Tell an adult

If you have a gun in your home:

  • Make sure the gun is unloaded
  • Lock the gun in a storage cabinet that is inaccessible to the children
  • Lock the ammunition in a separate place from the gun
  • Store the keys to the gun and ammunition cabinets out of the reach of the children
  • Store all gun-cleaning supplies, many which are poisonous, in a locked cabinet also
  • Never leave the gun unattended while cleaning or handling it

Gun Safety Away From Home

  • Discuss gun safety with other parents if your child spends time in their homes and they own a gun

BB Guns, Pellet Guns, and Toy Guns

  • BB and pellet guns should only be used under adult supervision, as they can seriously hurt and even kill someone
  • Police officers may mistake a toy gun for a real one
  • Teach your child to never point a BB gun, pellet gun, or toy gun at himself or another person
  • Do not put caps from toy guns in your pocket, they can ignite and cause serious burns

Older children are more at risk for injury or death as a result of horseplay with a gun.  Teenagers use them more for suicide and to commit a crime.

Fire Prevention and Safety

Every year children set over 100,000 fires and 20% of all fire deaths are children.  We need to teach our children fire safety, fire prevention, and steps to take in the event of a fire.  Preparing your child for a fire emergency may save her life.

Fire Prevention

  • Do not over use extension cords.  Make sure they are not frayed or worn and do not run under a rug.
  • Do not overload outlets
  • If you live in an older home with the original wiring, have an electrician check it periodically to ensure its safety
  • Make sure the light bulbs being used are the correct wattage for the lamp
  • Allow plenty of space around TVs, computers, radios, and stereos to prevent overheating
  • Keep lamps away from curtains, bedspreads, etc

Portable heaters contribute to the increase in fires during the winter months.

  • Never place a heater where a child or pet will knock it over
  • Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from anything flammable including the wall
  • Never place a heater near a bed or drapes
  • Never leave a heater on when not in the room
  • Never use an extension cord with a heater

Fireplace

  • Keep the fireplace clean and covered with a screen
  • Do not store newspapers, kindling, or an exposed rug in front of the fireplace
  • Never leave a fireplace burning unattended
  • Have the chimney professionally cleaned once a year
  • Cigarette Smoking
    • Cigarettes are the number one cause of fire deaths in the United States
    • Keep lighters and matches used for smoking inaccessible to children
    • Never smoke in bed
    • Empty ashtrays frequently, but wet the butts and ashes first
  • Cooking
    • Do not leave unsupervised pots of food cooking on the stove or in the oven
    • Do not store items on top of the stove – a power surge or a knob getting turned on accidentally can cause a fire
    • Keep pot handles turned towards the back of the stove
    • Use oven mitts, not a dish towel, to remove items from the oven
    • Always have a fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen
  • Clothes Dryer
    • Never leave the dryer running if you leave the house
    • Clean the lint screen frequently
    • Vent the dryer to the outside instead of into a wall
  • Fire Safety
    • Install smoke detectors on every level of your house
    • Mount a fire extinguisher in your kitchen, garage, and in at least one bedroom at the opposite end of the house from the kitchen
    • Discuss and practice a fire escape plan with your family
    • If the fire is large, get out of the house immediately and call 911
    • STOP, DROP, and ROLL if clothes catch on fire
    • Crawl low to the floor to stay below the smoke
    • Do not open a closed door if it feels hot
    • Have at least one escape ladder if you have a two-story house
  • The best way to protect your family from a fire is to be prepared.  Make sure everyone knows the fire prevention tips and the fire safety tips if a fire should occur.

Bicycle Safety

Although bicycling is fun and teaches children self confidence, they must be taught to cycle safely.

Approximately 250 children in the United States die each year from bicycle-related accidents.  Another half a million are injured. The best way to teach a child to cycle safely is by example.

Bike safety begins with teaching your child how to ride a bike safely.

  • Teach them to balance, steer, and pedal the bike in an open area such as a parking lot or driveway – not in the road
  • Next let them ride on sidewalks – show them that there are cracks, rocks, holes, etc. that they will need to maneuver around
  • Teach them to always stop at the corner and look both ways before preceding across the street
  • Next they will begin riding in the street – ALWAYS ride with the traffic, not against the traffic
  • Stop at all stop signs and obey all traffic signals
  • As their skills advance, they should be taught to use hand signals to indicate a turn

Buying the right bike for your child is essential for bike safety.  Most children can balance a bicycle by four to five years of age.  Make sure the bike is the right size for the rider.  The child should be able to sit on the seat with her feet flat on the ground and the handlebars should be no higher than her shoulders.

Bicycle helmets should be worn at all times while riding a bike.  Three out of four bicycle accidents involve a head injury.  Wearing a helmet could prevent brain damage or even death.

A Bicycle Helmet Should:

  • Be a bright color that is easy for car drivers to see
  • Be lightweight
  • Have wide straps that fit snugly beneath the chin
  • Always have the straps fastened while riding
  • Sit level on the child’s head – do not tilt it forward or backward

Basic safety rules

  • No riding on busy streets
  • Keep at least one hand (preferably two) on the handlebars at all times
  • Ride with the traffic
  • Stop at all stop signs and obey all traffic signals
  • Do not ride too close to parked cars – doors may open suddenly
  • Never wear headphones while riding
  • Only one person on the bike at one time
  • ALWAYS wear a helmet

CPR for Children

Knowing how and when to administer CPR to your child may save his life.  When performed correctly, CPR restores a child’s breathing and circulation until professional help arrives.

CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation – a combination of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compressions.  Although reading about CPR will give a basic understanding, every parent should take a CPR course which is available in most towns and cities.

CPR should only be performed if a child is not breathing and should be administered as quickly as possible once it is determined to be necessary.

The basic parts of CPR are easy to remember as A, B, C

  • Airway
  • Breathing
  • Circulation.

Airway

  • Turn the child flat, face-up on a hard surface
  • Open airway with a head-tilt/chin-lift

Breathing

  • Keeping the airway open, check for breathing
  • Look to see if chest rises, listen for breaths, feel for breaths on your cheek
  • If the child is not breathing, seal the mouth with your mouth
  • Pinch the nose
  • Give 2 breaths, just enough to make the chest rise
  • Watch for chest to rise with breaths
  • If chest rises – go to C (circulation)
  • If chest does not rise – reposition the head and try 2 more breaths
  • Look in the mouth and remove anything that is blocking the airway

Circulation

  • Open chest clothing
  • Put the heel of one hand between the nipples on the breastbone
  • Push hard and fast
  • Push straight down, 30 pushes at a rate of 100 per minute, let chest come up after each push
  • Give 2 breaths after each 30 pushes
  • Do 5 sets of 30 pushes and 2 breaths.  This should take approximately 2 minutes
  • If not already done, call 911
  • Do CPR until child is responding (starting to move) or until professional help takes over

If breathing but not responding:

  • Stop CPR
  • Watch the breathing until professional help arrives
  • If no injuries, roll the child onto one side

Even if breathing and responding, the child should be taken to the nearest Emergency Room by ambulance.

Accidental Injuries to Children

Every year accidental injuries leave thousands of children permanently disabled, disfigured, or dead.  The highest number of deaths is caused by fire and the majority of non-fatal accidents are from falls.
Accidents happen to children because they are inquisitive and learn by exploring.  Although you should not prevent your child from learning, steps should be taken to ensure their safety during this learning process.

Where accidents happen

  • The most number of accidents occur in the living room or dining room of a child’s home.
  • The most serious accidents happen in the kitchen or on the stairs.
  • Babies and toddlers have most accidents in the home
  • School age children have more accidents at school or at play

Types of injuries

  • Older children are more likely to sustain fractures
  • Younger children are more likely to incur burns, scalds, and poisoning

Reasons accidents happen

  • A child’s curiosity
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Showing off and horseplay
  • Inexperience in certain situations

Preventing accidents

  • Never leave a baby on a changing table, bed, or other raised surface without supervision
  • Never leave a baby or toddler near hot drinks or food that they can touch
  • Keep all matches and lighters out of reach
  • Use safety gates at the top and bottom of a staircase
  • Keep floors free of toys and objects that may be tripped over
  • Run cold water in the tub before adding hot water, always test the water before putting your child in the tub
  • Never leave a child or baby in a bath unsupervised
  • Turn handles of pots and pans on the stove toward the back of the stove so a child cannot reach them
  • Keep small objects and toys out of the reach of children under three years of age

Water and Swimming Pool Safety

The second most common cause of death from injuries for children under 14 is drowning. Most drownings occur when the child is out of sight of an adult for less than 5 minutes.

Pool Safety

  • Never leave your child alone or unattended
  • Do not let your child dive into a pool unless you have checked to make sure the water is deep enough
  • Do not let your child run near the pool
  • Teach your child to always swim with a buddy
  • Never think that your child is “drown proof” just because they know how to swim
  • Do not allow your child to eat or chew gum while in the pool
  • Install a safety fence around your pool
  • Install motion detection alarms on the doors and windows leading to the pool
  • Take a CPR class and make sure any caregiver is trained in CPR

Beach Safety

  • Never swim alone
  • Do not swim out too far
  • Swim only in the areas marked for swimming and near a life guard
  • If caught in a riptide (a current pulling you out to sea), swim parallel to the shore, not towards it until you can do so with ease
  • Wear protective footwear to protect your feet from jellyfish or jagged rocks

Poison Safety

There are many items in your house that can be poisonous to your child.  Some of them are obvious, such as insect spray, but other ordinary items and medicines can be just as deadly for your child.

Over a million children are poisoned every year by household products, medicine, and plants.  If you have small children in your household, make sure that all cabinet doors have safety locks and that all potentially dangerous products have child resistant caps on them.

Pesticides

  • Insect sprays can be absorbed through the skin or fumes can be inhaled, affecting the nervous system and making it difficult to breathe

Household Cleaners and Fuels

  • Toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners, etc. can cause chemical burns if ingested
  • Bleach or dishwasher soap can be toxic if swallowed
  • Furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene, paint thinners are among the leading causes of death in children who have been poisoned

Plants

Many household and outside plants are poisonous if eaten or sometimes even touched:

  • Morning Glory
  • Azalea
  • Oleander
  • Elephant Ear
  • Mistletoe
  • Daffodil
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Jasmine

Medicines and Vitamins

  • Never tell your child that a medicine or vitamin is candy.  Even an overdose of vitamins with iron may cause death.
  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children
  • Never give your child medicine without first looking at the label to make sure you have the correct bottle
  • Children often imitate adults, therefore, do not take your own medicine in front of your child.

Alcohol

  • Alcohol poisoning can lead to a coma and/or death
  • There are many types of alcohol, other than the type for drinking, that is used in household products
  • Antifreeze, mouthwash, cologne, and even antibacterial hand cleaners contain alcohol

Symptoms of Poisoning

  • Disorientation
  • Burns or stains around the mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Convulsions
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Slurred speech

Do not induce vomiting.

Make sure you have the toll-free Poison Control Center phone number 1-800- 222-1222 posted where it can be easily accessed in case of an emergency.  If your child is conscious, call the Poison Control Center.  If your child is not conscious or is having difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately.

Outdoor Chores and Safety

When children are young, they love to help their parents with chores.  However, more than 9,000 children under the age of 18 are injured by lawn mowers.
Make sure that your child is old enough and has learned the proper way to handle yard tools before allowing them to help with outside chores.
Improper use of lawn equipment and tools can result in serious injuries, such as amputations, and/or death.

  • Make sure that your child knows that a lawn mower or lawn tractor is not a toy
  • Never let a child ride or operate a riding mower, even if being supervised
  • Always make sure you know where your child is when you are operating lawn equipment
  • Keep the children in the house and out of the yard while you are doing the yard work
  • Always look behind you before backing up the lawn mower
  • Make sure your tools are turned off and inoperable when you are not using them

A child should be at least 12 years of age before operating a push mower and at least 16 years old before operating a riding mower.

  • Before allowing your teen to operate outdoor equipment, you should teach them how to operate the machinery and all safety precautions while using it
  • Dress appropriately – long pants, close-fitting clothes, eye protection, proper shoes, and hearing protection
  • Before operating the equipment, remove all stones, sticks, etc. from the area you are about to work in
  • Never fill a mower or other equipment with gas while the equipment is on or still hot
  • Never smoke or use any type of flame while operating equipment

If using electric equipment, only use an extension cord that is rated specifically for outdoor use

The Heimlich Maneuver

The Heimlich maneuver is an emergency procedure for removing a foreign object lodged in a person’s airway.  This procedure, which was introduced in 1974 by Dr. Henry Heimlich, is now a standard part of all first aid courses.
Adults and Children Older Than One Year – Conscious

  • Stand behind the victim and encircle his/her waist with your arms.  Make a fist with one hand and place it, with your thumb toward the victim, below the rib cage and above the waist.  Place your other hand on top of the fist.
  • Press into the upper abdomen with sharp, quick thrusts
  • Repeat until object is cleared from airway

Adults and Children Older Than One Year – Unconscious

  • Lay the victim on his/her back on the floor and bend the chin forward
  • Kneel astride the victim’s thighs and place one of your hands on top of the other
  • Place the heel of your bottom hand on the upper abdomen of the victim below the rib cage and above the waist
  • Push inward and upward with quick thrusts
  • Repeat until object is cleared from airway

Children – Under One Year Old

  • Lay the infant on your forearm with the infant’s face pointed downward
  • Support the baby’s head with your hand and rest your forearm against your thigh
  • Use the heel of your other hand to give four or five rapid blows to the baby’s back between his/her shoulder blades
  • If airway is still blocked, turn the baby over on your thigh with his/her head pointing downward
  • Place two or three fingers on the center of the baby’s breastbone and make four or five upward thrusts
  • Keep alternating back blows and chest thrusts until object is dislodged

Self Applied Heimlich Maneuver

  • Make a fist and place it against your abdomen – below the rib cage and above the waist
  • Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into your abdomen with quick upward thrusts
  • If upward thrusts fail, try pressing your abdomen over the back of a chair, the edge of table, or a stair railing