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Children and Accidental Poisonings: What You NEED to Know

?????????????????Keeping your children safe, this is the goal of every parent. We all want to keep our children safe and secure and help them live to their full potential but with over 350 children a day in the United States ages 0 to 19 being treated in emergency departments, and two children dying, as a result of being poisoned, the concerns of children and accidental poisonings are more prevalent than ever. These concerns are always the topic of extended discussion during our training classes both here at the fire department and in our community training classes and come down 3 main points.

  1. Precautions
  2. Identification
  3. Action

1. PRECAUTIONS.

Taking the steps before something bad happens is always the first step in any plan to keep children safe. Children are naturally curious and don’t yet know the dangers involved with chemicals and may easily confuse a glass cleaner or floor cleaner with their favorite drinks as well as confusing medicines and pills for candy. Properly storing and locking away chemicals and medicines in special child safe storage containers is one of the best ways to keep naturally curious children away from these dangers. Along with securing chemicals, knowing who to call in an emergency is key as well. Placing emergency numbers around all phones and in all cell phones is a great precaution to take as well. 9-1-1 is always an easy number to remember but placing the number for the national poison control centers 800-222-1222 and any other numbers and information is advised as well.

2. IDENTIFICATION.

Identifying the signs and symptoms of a child that has a definite or suspected poison ingestion are of the upmost importance. Some of the signs of poisoning: Besides finding an open container or bottle, look for these signs if you suspect your child has swallowed something dangerous:

  • Burns or redness around the mouth and lips (a sign your child drank something caustic)
  • Breath that smells like chemicals
  • Burns, stains, and smells on your child, her clothes, or elsewhere in the house
  • Vomiting, difficulty breathing, sleepiness, confusion, or other strange behavior
  • Drowsiness, Dizziness, or weakness
  • Breathing problems
  • Rashes
  • Blue Lips or Skin ( cyanosis )

3. ACTION.


If your child is awake and stable:

  • Remain Calm.
  • Don’t give ipecac syrup or try to make them throw up — doctors say this can do more harm to your little one. Instead, call the poison-control center at 800-222-1222
  • Tell the person who answers as much information as you know: What you think your child swallowed, when, and how much. (It helps if you have the bottle that contains the poisonous substance.) Then follow instructions on what to do.
  • If the poison-control expert tells you to go to the ER and you have the substance container, then take that with you to show the ER doctor exactly what your child ingested. Calling 9-1-1 is recommended in an emergency, driving to the ER is not recommended in an emergency due to the lack of focus on the road and the increased possibility of accidents.

If your child is unconscious and not breathing:

  • Call 9-1-1 and give the information requested
  • Start CPR and wait for Emergency response.
  • Do NOT attempt to drive to the ER.

There is no way to prevent every possible scenario, but it is possible to be prepared in case of an emergency and as always, a little preparation goes a long way.

Be Safe

Greg

What I Remember and Why It Matters: A 1978 Child EMS Transport

St. Petersburg, FL., the year was probably 1978 or 79. My partner and I had responded to a drowning in a large apartment complex at the north end of town. When we arrived we found a bunch of people doing or trying to do CPR. While we were getting into position to take over care a news crew arrived and began to film the action- the cameraman positioned right behind me.

The child was blue and just had that look and feel. The outcome was not going to change and it was not right that it was being filmed- solely for the benefit of the TV station. Somehow when I stood up I bumped into the cameraman and into the pool he went.

Fencing could have, would have prevented the death of this child. Parental oversight could have, would have prevented the death of this child. These were not the only mistakes to be made. We put the child on the stretcher and began the very long trip to the hospital.

We did not secure the child in any special way to the stretcher. We never had any means to do so and nothing bad ever happened. Each time we transported a child back then, we did so either using the stretcher or more commonly held the baby in our arms- as though we could hold onto a 30 pound baby in a high speed collision. But we did it time and again and nothing bad ever happened.

That’s not to say that there could not have been a catastrophic outcome from the transport – it just never happened – to me.

Back then we were not taught any better and frankly did not know better. Back then the world was a lot larger. We did not know what happened across the country or the world like we do today- only ‘major news’ received that level of exposure. And the fact that we did not believe anything bad would happen kept us from seeking change or improvement. As a society we have enacted universal laws that govern how we transport children in ordinary vehicles. We made these changes because bad things do happen. Emergency vehicles are the same as other cars- only riskier- they run red lights and go fast. We need to adopt the same laws as those that apply to all vehicles

How children are transported today is about the same as it was back then and largely for the same reason- we take a risk and nothing bad happens.

There are those who advocate for safer transport of children and infants and some states have enacted legislation to require safe transport equipment for emergency vehicles. Most people just assume that EMS, 911 responders, know what to do and do the right thing.

So what is the moral to this story? We often get angry when bad things happen and lash out in the wrong direction. Hindsight is most often crystal clear but too often we fail to use this vision to change the future.

* Learn CPR *
* Insist that all states require EMS vehicles to carry and use approved child and infant transport equipment *
* Ask questions and get involved *
* No Excuses*

Who At Your Kid’s School Is Certified in CPR or Basic First Aid??

Editor’s Note: With the COVID Delta variant placing our kids at a higher risk, and hospitals and EMS systems stretched way beyond capacity, we’re thinking this may be something you just might want to know.

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It’s a simple question really. How many people at your child’s school are certified in life saving CPR and basic first aid? The answer may surprise you. I am often on the other side of this question training the administrators and teachers in cpr and first aid, and praising them for spending the time and money to go beyond the bare minimum and make sure their entire staff is trained and the children are safe, but putting my oldest child in school for the first time this year made me curious to know the answer to this question.

As a concerned parent I placed a call to Miami Dade public schools and was alarmed to find out that at a public school here in Dade county only two people are required to be certified in CPR and basic first aid. This is a dangerously low number considering that some of the schools here in Dade County have over 5000 students. Not to mention what would happen if one or both of these people calls in sick or goes on vacation? Then you run into the possible situation of having nobody on campus that day required to be trained. Not good. With the normal everyday injuries at schools, the knowledge of basic first aid is a must and add to that the growing number of sudden cardiac events in schools around the country and you will see that having a basic knowledge of first aid and CPR together is also a must and therefore the bare minimum of safety by some schools just will not do.

What would cause a school to keep only the bare minimum of people trained in something so important? Is it that the administrators and staff don’t care about the children’s safety and only do the bare minimum because they have to? Of course not. The answer as usual is money. Now obviously what needs to happen is the schools need to increase the number of people trained in cpr and basic first aid, but like anything else training costs money and with school budgets shrinking by the day and teachers coming out of their own pockets more than ever to make up for the lack of funds, asking a school to budget in training for an entire staff just does not seem possible. So what can you as a concerned parent do? Well if you are certified to train the staff in cpr and first aid then you can do as I have done and donate the training to the school and staff for free, or you can do as some parents here in Dade county have done and that is to raise the funds for the training themselves by having a bake sale or a car wash or some other fundraising event and hire a company to come out to the school and train the entire staff. I cannot think of a better use for that money than the safety of our children.

The bottom line is no matter where you live the people looking after your children, whether it is a school, a daycare or even grandparents need to be trained and know how to react when your child needs help. So go ahead and do as I did and ask the question as to who is certified here and what can I do to help?

Be Safe.

First Aid Basics Every Parent Should Know

No matter how protective you are as a parent, kids are just accident magnets. They scrape knees, bump heads and bust lips in their endless pursuit of exploration and fun. In fact, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign, one out of four children per year sustains an injury serious enough to require medical attention. While you can’t always keep your kids from getting hurt, you can be prepared to provide first aid when they are. Here are some common emergencies and guidelines on how to react:

Emergency Your kids are running barefoot in the backyard, when one of them cuts her foot on a sharp rock.

What to do “The first thing you should do is clean the cut and stop the bleeding,” says Dr. Richard E. Miller, a pediatrician at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. Wash it thoroughly with soap and water and then apply firm pressure using gauze or a clean washcloth. “If the cut is superficial, apply an antiseptic ointment and close the wound with a butterfly band-aid,” says Dr. Miller. “But if it’s a deep, open wound that won’t stop bleeding, or if any tissue or muscle is exposed, basic first aid may not be enough – go to the emergency room for stitches.”

Be prepared Always make sure that kids wear shoes when playing outside. And keep adhesive bandages, gauze and antiseptic ointment on hand at all times.

Emergency Your toddler sneaks up to the stove while you’re cooking and burns her hand on the pot.

What to do First aid is needed to quickly to reduce the temperature of the burn and limit the damage to skin. For first-degree burns (red skin, minor swelling and pain but no blisters), remove clothes from the burned area, run cool – not cold – water over the burn for 3 to 5 minutes. Or press a wet, cold compress. If the burn is small, loosely cover it in gauze or bandage. For second-degree burns (blisters, severe pain and redness) or third-degree burns (the surface looks dry and is waxy white, leathery, brown or charred, although there may be no pain or numbness), call 911. Keep your child lying down and elevate the burned area. Remove clothing from the burned area, unless it is stuck to the skin. Don’t break any blisters. Apply cool water over the burn area for 3 to 5 minutes and then cover it with a clean white cloth or sheet until help arrives.

Be prepared In the kitchen, turn pot handles toward the back of the stove while you cook. Never hold your baby while you cook. In the bathroom, always turn the cold water on first and off last, and test bath water with your elbow.

Emergency Your energetic son just knocked his tooth out on the bedpost while jumping on the bed.

What to do To stop the bleeding, firmly apply a piece of wet gauze to the gums until the bleeding stops. If he lost a baby tooth, there’s no need for concern: A permanent tooth will eventually grow in its place. But you should visit a dentist regardless just to make sure none of his underlying teeth were damaged. If the tooth he lost was a permanent one, time is of essence. The faster you act, the higher your odds of saving the tooth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends holding the tooth by its crown and reinserting it into the socket, pressing it firmly in place with clean gauze. (If that’s not possible, place the tooth in a cup of milk, which will preserve the tooth’s roots.) Then visit a pediatric dentist immediately.

Be prepared Keep a pediatric dentist’s number on your refrigerator and in your cell phone.

Emergency You’re making breakfast when your toddler walks over to show you his new toy: an open bottle of prescription pills.

What to do Any time a child has potentially swallowed a hazardous substance, call your local poison control center immediately. If your child has collapsed or stopped breathing, call 911 first. Each case of poisoning is unique, and treatment varies greatly depending on what hazardous substance your child has ingested. Never take a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to poison emergencies. Seek immediate treatment.

Be prepared Poison-proof your home by storing all medication in childproof containers kept out of children’s reach. Post the number of your local poison control center somewhere highly visible, like your refrigerator.

Emergency preparedness and Special Needs Kids

Being prepared for an emergency is important for everyone, but it is crucial if you have a special needs child in your family. Here in Southern California we tend to focus on earthquakes, but whether you are concerned about doomsday, zombies or natural disasters being ready can make a big difference.

Emergency kits are important, and not only in your home. Schools should have a kit for each child, and if at all possible, your car should also be stocked with basic emergency supplies. Your kit should address your family’s specific daily needs for at least 72 hours. If your child’s disability is invisible you must be sure to explain to first responders that you or another caretaker (and service animal) must remain with your child.

General emergency supplies such as contact info, prescriptions, food and water, a first aid kit, batteries, candles, matches, flashlights, blankets, a radio and baby wipes are a good place to start. Specific special needs emergency supplies may also include:

  • Extra glasses or contacts
  • Epi-pens
  • Breathing supplies or nebulizers
  • Foods for special dietary needs
  • Extra medications, supplements or medical supplies
  • A cooler and ice packs for medications
  • A generator if your child depends on equipment
  • An extra lightweight wheelchair, walker or other medical device
  • Batteries, CDs or a music player for comfort
  • Supplies for any service animals

In an emergency, kids will take their cues from their parents and caregivers so it’s important to stay calm, reassure the child and explain how you plan to keep them safe.

Preparing for a natural disaster or emergency can be scary for kids, so the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a special section for kids that includes games to make the process more fun. The site also has a section for parents and teachers. The American Red Cross has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to put up excellent information and resources on their website. There is even a Sesame Street Emergency Preparedness site.

Knowing How to Use an AED Can Save a Child’s Life

We have a problem in this country, sudden cardiac arrest. Approximately 450,000 people die each year from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in the United States. It can happen to anybody, anywhere, anytime and without any warning, so helping a person suffering from cardiac arrest is all about what you do immediately following the persons collapse. The best “save” rates have been reported when using an automated external defibrillator or AED to deliver an electric shock or defibrillation within three minutes of the patient’s collapse. Early defibrillation in conjunction with C.P.R has been found to be the only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest. For every minute that a person in cardiac arrest goes without being successfully treated by defibrillation the chance of survival decreases by 7 percent per minute in the first minutes, and decreases by 10 percent per minute as time advances beyond 3 minutes, so starting life saving measures such as CPR and using the AED as soon as it arrives it essential.

Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest include:

  • Collapse
  • Lack of pulse
  • No breathing
  • Unconsciousness

With time being of the essence and the average response time for emergency services being 10 to 12 minutes (which may not be fast enough for a patient because after approximately three to five minutes irreversible brain damage may begin to occur if there is no defibrillation), having access to an AED and knowing how to use it is very important. So how do you use an Automated External Defibrillator? As we said before, AED’s are very user friendly and speak in plain English and will walk you through the entire process, even reminding you to call for help if you haven’t already done so. In the basic life support class we have a pneumonic that helps people remember the 4 basic steps to using an AED: P.A.A.S. This stands for Power, Attach, Analyze, and Shock.

  • Power: Most AED’s turn on when open but some may have a power button.
  • Attach stands for attaching the defibrillator pads to the chest of the patient to match the pictures that are provided on the pads.
  • Analyze means to let the machine analyze the patient’s heart rhythm and determine if the patient needs to be defibrillated,
  • Shock means to manually press the shock button and shock the patient if and when the machine says it’s time to do so.

Now as we said before, having the proper training will make this whole process much smoother but is not a requirement. I would however recommend it.

Where to find an AED? AED’s either held by trained personnel who will attend events or are public access units which can be found in places including corporate and government offices, shopping centers, airports, airplanes, restaurants , casinos, hotels, sports stadiums, schools, and universities, community centers, fitness centers, health clubs, theme parks, workplaces and any other location where people may congregate. In many areas, emergency vehicles are likely to carry AEDs, with some units carrying an AED in addition to manual defibrillators. Some areas even have dedicated community first responders, who are volunteers tasked with keeping an AED and taking it to any victims in their area. AEDs are also increasingly common on commercial airliners, cruise ships, and other transportation facilities and with advances in technology and policy requiring AED’s to be placed in more and more places AED’s are becoming more accessible as well as more affordable.

Automated External Defibrillators are truly miracle machines and are changing people’s lives for the better and I hope this article has given you a basic understanding of how to use one should the time come. I encourage everyone to take a certified AED instruction course and really become familiar with these machines and the process involved in using them because you never know when you could be called to action and as we said before, there is nothing better you can do in a cardiac arrest situation than using an AED.

Thank you and Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season.

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Editor’s Note: Sudden cardiac arrest among young athletes is nowhere near as common as it is across the general population, however when it occurs, it is unexpected and the results are often tragic. It’s estimated that between 6,000 and 8,000 young people experience sudden cardiac arrest (or SCA) each year, and only about one in 10 survive. An AED can save their life, however today only 15 states require them on school campuses. Not all of those require them to be present on athletic fields. Parents that means its up to you. Be observant. During the sports season, look out for signs that your child may be struggling. And talk to your school about AED’s. Source: Nemours Children’s Hospital

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