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Accidents happen. Sudden, severe illness can occur.
It is not possible to prevent all childhood accidents or severe illnesses. But you can definitely improve your odds against accidents by 1) ensuring that the child’s environment is as safe as possible; 2) being aware that accidents are likely to happen at certain times and being super-vigilant when the child (or parent) is fatigued or when the household routine is disrupted; 3) developing and teaching to your children a “safety reflex”; and 4) instilling in your children a sense of responsibility for their own safety.
Because it is likely that EVERY CHILD will have an accident and possible that everu child will be taken severely ill, EVERY PARENT must be prepared.
LEARN CPR AND ELEMENTARY FIRST AID. If I had my way learning CPR would be a requirement in all childbirth preparation courses or a prerequisite to getting a driver’s or marriage license.
REHEARSE AHEAD. Identify the emergency facility closest to your house. Ideally this is a hospital staffed by specialists in emergency care with pediatric intensive care available. Drive to the facility. This dry run teaches you the best route. If you drive in heavy traffic times you will have an idea how long the drive will take you.
KNOW HOW TO GET HELP. Have a Telephone List next to every phone and in your car and wallet. Besides 911 which in most communities activates police and fire departments as well as paramedics, help and/or information can be obtained from your child’s doctor, poison control center, a hospital, ambulance. Other numbers that should be posted include: taxi, father and mother’s work number, utility company numbers, pharmacy, neighbor (you may need someone to watch other children), and relatives. Be sure all child caregivers or sitters know who to call in an emergency.
STOCKPILE EMERGENCY FIRST-AID SUPPLIES like bandages, disinfectant, tweezers, and a book on emergency first-aid. Set aside a place (not accessible to children) where these emergency supplies are always kept. You can improvise many supplies from ordinary household items. For example cloth diapers, sanitary napkins, and clean sheets can all be used as bandages. The inside of a tampon is clean cotton. Broom handles and the straight tube of your vacuum cleaner can be used as splints or a pillow can be wrapped around a limb to provide comfort and some splinting.
ACT–IF AND WHEN YOU HAVE TO. If you ever find your child injured, remember this simple formula: ACT.
A stands for ASSESS. Quickly try to find out what is wrong, whether it is a real emergency, how bad it is.
C stands for CALL FOR HELP. Get help by screaming for a neighbor or calling 911.
T stands for THINK. Think what you know how to do for your child until a professional takes over. T can also stand for TRY, TAKE CHARGE or TRUST YOURSELF. No matter how frightened or upset you are you can and must ACT.
None of us likes to think about a potential disaster but force yourself to think what you would do if your baby stopped breathing or your toddler fell off the porch and there is nobody around to help. Rehearse in your mind what you would do. Write down the steps you would need to take. Are there any tasks you don’t know how to do? Are there things you should practice?
DO NOT PANIC! As a mother I know how hard it is not to panic. I remember the time my son came into the house after falling on a stick he was carrying. Blood poured from his mouth. I quickly put pressure on his palate but, in panic, was ready to rush to the hospital because the bleeding seemed so massive. My husband laid our son on the floor on his side while I kept pressure on the roof of his mouth and in a minute or two the bleeding stopped. So I know from my own heart-thumping experiences that we parents have to keep panic in check. The best way to do this is to prepare yourself so you are armed with knowledge and confidence.
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