Accidents just happen, do they?

Dr Mohammed Shakeel, HOD-Emergency and Trauma, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan, shares how little, unattended things can lead to some serious mishaps, how to prevent them? And how and what to do during such instances

Accidents just happen, do they?
Image courtesy : Getty Images

Accidents are the main reason for injuries and sometimes death amongst the children. As a fact, the place, that people feel the safest, their house, hide various hazards; the prime cause is sheer negligence.

A minor distraction can lead to some serious injuries, many accidents, that happen in and around the home can be avoided. Parents should identify and understand the potential risks in their homes. Here are some safety steps that would keep your children safe.

Usually, children tend to be in their own interests and do not care about their surroundings. They only have a limited perception of the environment because of their lack of experience or development.

With their new-found sense of freedom and movement, the toddlers can move quickly, and accidents can happen in a matter of seconds. Falls are the most common type of accident to occur around the home, contributing in over 50 per cent of the cases. Some common accidents are:

Falls

Cause

Unstable gait of the toddler, the presence of objects on the floor, lack of supervision, curiosity of the children, lack of protection around the bed, among others.

Prevention

  • Keep floors free of toys and obstructions
  • Supervise when the toddler learns to walk
  • Never leave babies unattended on raised surfaces
  • Keep the floor dry
  • Ensure that the bed-rail of the cot is raised, when the baby is in the cot
  • Always use a securely fitted safety harness in a pram, pushchair or highchair
  • Windows and doors must be locked to avoid misadventure by the children
  • Avoid placing ‘step-stones’ such as a chair next to a window

First aid

Cuts, scrapes, and bruises sustained due to fall should be cleaned and compressed for a while to stop bleeding if any. If no bleeding or minor injury, the wound can be dressed with a band-aid. Seek medical attention for serious injuries.

Finger stuck in the door: Another common and limb threatening injury, which happens in children, is getting their finger stuck in the door. The child is either unable to recognise potential danger or fails to remove the hand before the door is shut. As the fingertips are exquisitely sensitive, your child will let you know immediately that she/ he is injured. There can be bluish discoloration, bleeding, avulsion of the fingertip.

First aid: If the fingertip is bleeding, wash it with water and cover with a soft, sterile or clean cloth and apply ice packs to relieve pain and swelling

If the swelling is mild and the child is comfortable, you can allow the finger to heal on its own. However, be alert for increasing pain, swelling, bleeding, fever, and discharge within two days of injury. Seek immediate medical care for avulsed fingers or excessive bleeding

For an avulsed finger, clean the finger(s) gently, cover it with a saline-soaked gauze, put them in a watertight bag and place it on an ice pack. Do not place the injured part directly on the icepack

Foreign body in the nose: Children, below the age of five, experiment with their bodies by putting the foreign object(s), that doesn’t belong, into their nose. Sometimes they imitate other or accidentally inhale the foreign body while trying to smell it. In most cases, the objects are soft or small such as tissues, clay, pieces of toys, beads, foam, erasers, and food.

Signs and symptoms: Your child may tell you he put something into his nose, or you may discover it on your own. The most common symptom of a foreign body in the nose is nasal drainage. The drainage appears only on the side of the nose with the object and often has a bad odor. Sometimes a whistling sound can be heard while your child is breathing.

First aid: Children choking after foreign body ingestion should be rushed to the hospital immediately. Mouth to mouth respiration technique can be performed at home if the child is stable.

Place your mouth over your child’s mouth. Hold the unblocked nostril, close it with a finger, blow gently into your child’s mouth; this may dislodge the foreign object

Rush your child to the nearest emergency room to ensure that the child is all right.

Choking on small objects

Cause: Accidental swallowing of foreign body, strangulation, covering of the head with blankets, accidental suffocation by a pillow while the baby is asleep in a prone position, near-drowning, among others.

Prevention

  • Choose toys appropriate to your child’s age. Avoid toys with detachable parts
  • Small objects, strings, and plastic bags should be kept beyond your children’s reach
  • Instruct children not to play while eating
  • Never use a pillow for the baby below the age of one. Do not use a large and heavy blanket
  • Never let the blanket cover the face of children during the sleep
  • Never leave children alone in a bathtub or basin filled with water
  • Keep children away from a bucket filled with water

First aid: Do not panic. Remove the cause from the patient; call for help immediately and rush your child to the nearest emergency room

Poisoning

Cause: Food poisoning, accidental swallowing of drugs, detergents, insecticides, among others.

Prevention

Keep medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in an isolated, locked cabinet

Always store chemicals in their original containers with appropriate labels

Never tell children drugs are ‘sweets’ as this may give a wrong idea to children

Ensure toys and dining utensils bought to meet the international standard, for instance, colouring materials being non-toxic

First aid: Do not panic. Call for help immediately

Examine the child, if the airway is clear (e.g., can talk, cry or not); if breathing is adequate and circulation is normal then observe the color of the face and rate of breathing. If the child is unconscious, but the airway is clear, breathing and circulation are normal, place him/ her in a lateral position (sideways)

Rush the child to the emergency room, bring along with any vomitus and remains of drugs taken, when seeking medical treatment