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Preventing Suffocating Deaths in Children

Suffocation and strangulation are two risks that cause many fatalities and injuries to children each year. Since children and infants have smaller airway passages, they are not prone to suffocation. As well, young children and infants simply have not developed enough to know what to do if they suddenly cannot breathe. An infant does not have the motor skills to move and gasp for air, while a young child who is suffocating will often panic. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are several things that parents can do to help prevent suffocation and strangulation:

1) Watch out for plastic bags. Plastic bags from consumer product packaging or from the grocery store can pose a serious hazard for small children and infants. If you have small children in your home, dispose of all plastic bags and wrapping materials at once. Be sure to remove packaging and wrapping material from all children’s toys and products as well.

2) Watch out for small toys and objects. Marbles, coins, and a dozen other smaller items around the house can pose a choking and suffocation hazard for infants and small children. Children who are just learning to crawl are especially vulnerable, as their curiosity may lead them to sample any small items found under furniture or on the floor. It is essential to be vigilant to avoid any small items from falling into the hands of small children.

3) Be wary of food – especially food fed by others. Small children can easily choke and suffocate on nuts, peanuts, candies, hard biscuits, and other like foods. However, an infant’s older siblings may not understand that a treat is not safe for baby and may attempt to feed a younger brother or sister such dangerous foods. It is important to explain to your baby’s older siblings the importance of never offering any small items to a baby.

4) Check children’s toys regularly. Online recall notices and warnings can tell parents when a child’s toy has been recalled due to choking hazards or other hazards. In addition, online news items can alert parents to product liability claims made against children’s products – even when those products have not been officially recalled by a manufacturer. However, it is important to keep in mind that just because a toy has not been recalled, it does not mean that it is safe. And even safe toys can be unsafe if they are used by younger children or become worn with use. Make certain that your child is not using toys intended for older children – these toys may have small parts which can be dangerous to a younger child. As well, check the condition of toys regularly. Even a safe toy can become unsafe if a child has partially broken or chewed the toy, creating small pieces which may break off.

5) Do a regular check of your home. When tidying your home, it is a good idea to keep an eye out for any strangulation or choking hazards. Many times, perfectly innocuous objects – a jar of small seashells or a lamp with a pull cord – can pose hazards to children, so it is important to review one’s home with an eye to safety regularly.

6) Place babies to sleep in a crib with a correctly fitted mattress and no pillows or other objects that can cause suffocations. Each year, 50 babies strange or suffocate due to unsafe cribs, so check regularly to make sure your crib design has not been recalled and is in good condition.

7) Do not allow younger children to wear clothes with drawstrings or long ribbons. Between 1985 and 1995, 17 children died and 42 suffered inquires after getting drawstrings from clothing tangled in furniture, playground equipment, and fences.