Unintentional injuries are the number one cause of death of children in the US. The CDC reports nearly 9 million children aged 0 to 19 years are seen in emergency departments annually for injuries, and more than 9,000 children die as a result of being injured. This financial burden is roughly $11.5 billion annually, and remains the leading cause of medical spending in children.

As parents, we desire to protect our children from harm and to keep them safe. Unfortunately, the home is the place where accidents are most likely to occur. Accidents can range from mild to severe leading to disability or death, therefore everyone should be aware of the dangers in the home so that accidents can be avoided. Examples of such home accidents can be falls, burns, poisoning, suffocation, drowning.

Suffocation Injury Facts 

  • Number one cause of unintentional injury‐related death for children under the age of 1 year.
  • 88% of children who suffocated were ages 4 and under.
  • 61% of children who suffocated were boys.
  • 1,176 children deaths from suffocation in 2010.
  • 88 children of these 1,176 died from accidental hanging and strangulation and 147 children died from choking on food or another object.

Prevention Strategies

  • Choose toys appropriate to the age of children. It’s worth a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it’s just right for your child. Avoid toys with detachable small parts or potential chocking hazards.
  • Ensure small objects are kept out of reach of children.
  • Pull cords on curtains and blinds should be kept short and out of reach of children.
  • Strings and plastic bags should be kept out of reach of children.
  • Foldable furniture should be properly placed and locked. Instruct children not to play with them.
  • Instruct children not to talk with their mouth full or play while eating.
  • Never let children drink from a bottle by themselves without adult supervision.
  • Never use a pillow for a baby under one year of age. Do not use large and heavy blankets.
  • Never let the blanket cover the face of children during sleep.
  • Avoid sleeping with your baby on the same bed.
  • Never leave children alone in a bathtub or basin filled with water.
  • Buckets filled with water must be covered and children kept away from them.
  • Keep small objects such as buttons, beads, jewelry, pins, nails, marbles, coins, stones and tacks out of reach and sight.
  • Cut food for toddlers into tiny pieces. Children under 5 should not eat small, round or hard foods, including pieces of hot dogs, cheese sticks or chunks, hard candy, nuts, grapes, marshmallows or popcorn.

First Aid:In the event suffocation does happen,

  • Do not panic. Remove the cause from the child.
  • Call for help immediately.
  • Perform CPR if necessary. This skill is very useful and could save a child’s life. Acquiring this skill is worth your time and money.

Babies and little kids are curious about the things around them and will touch, taste and smell just about anything. That’s the way they learn. But as parents, we have to be diligent because swallowing the wrong thing can cause serious injury.
For more information visit www.safekids.org
Statistics in this article were taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tolulope Oyewumi, MD, MPH, currently works at the Colorado School of Public Health in Denver, Colorado. She is affiliated with the University of Colorado Denver as well as the Lagos University Teaching Hosiptal. Dr. Oyewumi is a Board Certified Physician with special interests in injury epidemiology, child abuse and neglect and injury prevention.