Cheri M. Gioe, Riche', Cassandra, Martin, Lauren, Merrill, Thomas A. | 4/19/2005 10:28:30 PM
It’s important to think about preventing accidents and to be prepared if children are involved in them, says LSU AgCenter child-care associate Cheri Gioe.
"The National Network for Child Care reports that up to 90 percent of all children’s accidents are preventable," Gioe says, adding, "Many accidents can be prevented by ‘child-proofing’ your home or child-care center."
Of course, since accidents happen, Gioe says being prepared for them also is a must.
"Being prepared involves knowing basic first aid, CPR and the Heimlich maneuver and having a stocked first-aid kit accessible to adults," the LSU AgCenter expert explains. "It also means having emergency numbers such as the doctor, poison control center, emergency room, police and fire rescue squad near all phones."
Such numbers also should be posted in child-care center classrooms, as well, according to Gioe.
She says a part of the preparation also should be careful planning and practicing what to do if an emergency occurs.
"Having disaster drills and knowing escape routes are of paramount importance,"
Gioe says. "Also, remember that it is important to stay calm under any circumstance. If you panic, so will the children who need help."
The LSU AgCenter expert stresses that keeping children safe involves planning, preparation thought and time.
"Spending a few extra moments to ensure a safe environment could be the difference between life and death," she says.
As for preventing accidents through child-proofing or other safety precautions, Gioe offers these tips:
–Infants need constant supervision, because they enjoy putting things in their mouths. Toddlers also are prone to put things in their mouths. So it is important to keep the environment free of small objects such as coins and buttons.
–Lead-based paint should not be used on cribs or walls, since it may flake off and children could ingest it.
–Infants should always be strapped into swings, high chairs or bouncy seats to keep them from falling.
–The hot water heater temperature should be set no higher than 120 F to prevent scalding. In addition, bottle warmers and crock pots should be kept out of reach, and bottles should never be heated in the microwave.
–Careful consideration should be given to the cribs in which infants sleep. Crib slats should be no more than 2 3/8 inches apart, so the infant’s head will not get caught. Crib sides should be up and locked in place. Pillows and plastic mattress covers should never be used, and bottles should never be propped. Also, make certain the crib is not close to any cords or electrical outlets.
–When childproofing for toddlers, caregivers should keep in mind that they enjoy climbing, opening things and touching items. Child safety gates, guards and locks should be used to keep children out of potentially dangerous places such as stairwells, heaters and cabinets containing sharp objects or poisonous substances.
–Caregivers also should remember that stoves and ovens can be extremely dangerous and should keep pots with handles on back burners and lock the oven door when it is in use.
–Toddlers enjoy bath time, but no child should ever be left unattended in the bath tub. In addition, water temperature should be checked prior to placing a child in the tub. Rubber mats and child safety seats also may be used to help to keep children from slipping and becoming submerged in the tub.
–Preschool-age children are more independent and should be granted more freedom, but they still must be taught how to play safely. Preschoolers still need close supervision and firm limits. They should also be given rules and reasons for each rule as well as the consequences for breaking these rules.
–While children of all ages enjoy playing with toys, precautions also need to be taken with toys. As a rule, if toys are smaller than the circumference of a toilet paper tube, they are not appropriate for infants or toddlers. In addition, keep in mind that as children learn how to manipulate certain toys, there is always the chance that the toy could be ingested and become a choking hazard, break and become an object that could cut a child or crack and become an object that could pinch a child. Frequently checking for such potential problems is a must. Any toy that is broken should be discarded.
For even more information, Gioe says a quarterly newsletter known as "Safety Box" that is published by the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office’s Public Protection Division is one resource. That newsletter contains information about child product recalls and toy hazard recalls received from the Consumer Safety Commission. You also can go to the Safety Commission’s Web site at www.cpsc.gov or call the Louisiana Department of Justice Consumer Information Line at (800) 351-4889 for more details.
The LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program is designed to educate parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.