Safety First: How To Prevent And Respond To Newborn Emergencies
Falls and Poisonings
The intercom buzzes in my office... "Emergency on line 3.”
I am barely connected when I hear a very emotional mom say,” I turned my back for a second...”
The baby fell off the changing table. The baby chair fell off the kitchen table or the countertop while strapped into an infant seat. The toddler rolled off the bed, the couch, her great grandmother’s lap. Your child will take a tumble, eventually.... gravity happens.
DO: Anytime your baby falls you must assess the situation intelligently. First and foremost, if there is any question as to your baby’s ability to breathe normally or if she is not as alert as before the fall, you must call 911 immediately and follow their instructions. Have someone else call your health care provider to alert him or her to the situation.
Next, did she cry immediately and is she still crying? Did she hit her head? Blood? Bruising or swelling? Take note of these things and relay them to EMS and to your pediatric care provider. Sounds scary but you need to observe these things when a fall happens. This information will help get the most appropriate first aid to your child.
The most common scenario goes something like this:
“I was cleaning up after dinner and turned my back for a second... Madison, my 3 year old, was jumping on the couch and fell onto the floor.”
“Was the floor carpeted?” I can hear Maddy crying in the background, “Is she moving her arms and legs and head and is she breathing well?”
“Yes carpeted, yes she’s moving about normally. She’s red faced from crying so much. I think her shoulder hit first, maybe there’s a red spot on her forehead.” mom says more calmly.
“Ok, let’s allow everyone to settle down for 5 minutes and then call me back. Put a cloth soaked in icy water on her forehead.”
The odds are that Madison’s mom will call back shortly and report that all is well. I will follow up in the morning and find that Madison has gone to playgroup as if nothing has happened... with a dime-sized black and blue spot above one eyebrow.
DON’T: Put a baby on the kitchen table or kitchen counter, EVER, turn your back when your baby is on a changing table, EVER, allow your monkeys to jump on the bed... well, hardly ever.
A fall can be serious. Assess intelligently and be prepared with pertinent information and your child’s current status when you call for help.
“Daniel got into my mother-in-law’s handbag with all her pill bottles...
“Josh found the Tylenol and I found him with it all over his shirt...
“I found Randall under the sink with the cleaning products...
I have heard all of these frightening words before. We have all been warned that medicines and poisons must be kept behind childproof locks. Yet every day, over 300 children in the United States are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned.
For any suspected poisonings or medicine ingestion you must immediately call POISON CONTROL 1-800-22-1222. You will be automatically connected to the Poison Center that serves your area. Your call is routed based on the area code and exchange of the phone you call from – or for cell phones, sometimes based on your location. While you are on the line with Poison Control, have someone else call your pediatric care providers to alert them to the situation.
Poison Control is available 24 hours a day to provide free, expert and confidential guidance in a poison emergency. When you call, a poison specialist will ask you questions to determine the severity of your case and then provide recommendations. Put this number beside every phone in your home and be sure that you and all your children’s caregivers have this number with them at all times.
DO: Put childproof locks on very cabinet door. If you question whether or not to put a lock on a certain cabinet… put a lock on it. Always keep cleaning products in their original bottles with all the labeling intact.
For medicines: Know how much medicine is in the bottle. Attach a tag with the number of pills remaining in the bottle. EVERY time a pill is removed, mark it on the tag. Seems like a lot of extra work? Believe me, it’s worth the effort. Poison Control will ask this question, the ER staff will ask this question, your pediatric care provider will ask this question. Use a permanent marking pen to mark the liquid level in a bottle of liquid medication. Always keep medicines in their original pharmacy bottles for proper identification. Be smart, you must be able to give this important information to your child’s health care providers.
A word about car seats, boosters and seat belts… please, please use them.
Care sears and booster provide protection for infants and children in a crash, yet car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. “No child should die in a motor vehicle crash because they were not properly buckled up and yet, sadly, it happens hundreds of times each year in the U.S.,” said past CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Many of these tragedies are preventable when parents use age- and size-appropriate child restraints every time their child rides in a motor vehicle.”
Children ages 8 until 17 are required to wear a seat belt in all seats. Children ages 4 until 8 must ride in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are over 4 feet 9 inches or weigh more than 40 lbs. Children under age 4 must be restrained in a child passenger restraint system.
You can get help with the proper installation of your car seats and booster seats in your area, free of charge.
Enter your zipcode and you will be directed to the closest location, usually a fire or police department. Take advantage of this service – available to all families with children in every state.