Most parents have childproofed their homes, are strict about securing their kids in car seats, and stand ready with a well-stocked first-aid kit in case of an emergency. But that may not be enough.
"To really protect their children, parents have to recognize the less obvious hazards around them and, in the event of an emergency, know what to do until medical help arrives," says paramedic Alexander Butman, executive director of the Emergency Training Institute of Akron, OH.
This year, 14 million children -- one out of four kids -- will suffer injuries serious enough to require medical attention. Of those, 120,000 will be permanently disabled from accidents, including poisoning, choking, falls, burns, and drowning.
Would you know what to do if your son or daughter were knocked unconscious on the playground or began to choke at dinner? Have you done everything you can to make sure your baby doesn't suffocate or drown?
For starters, "one of the most important things parents and caregivers can do is take a first-aid class through the American Red Cross or their local YMCA to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)," says Peter Silver, M.D., a critical-care pediatrician at Schneider Children's Hospital, in New Hyde Park, NY. "Seconds count when a child is starved for oxygen."
Here are some of the leading childhood accidents, how to avoid them, and steps to take should a crisis occur.
Donna Haupt is an award-winning medical writer and a volunteer emergency medical technician in Westport, CT.