A tasty-looking Lego brick. An unguarded pool. Perhaps a bottle of nail polish remover left open.
Kids are really good at getting themselves in trouble. All it takes is one potentially dangerous item to cause the worst of catastrophes.
While parents can do everything in their power to keep their children safe, some incidents are bound to happen, such as allergic reactions, car accidents and choking hazards.
As scary as these things can seem, fear shouldn’t consume your family’s lives. However, if something bad does happen, it’s best to know what you can do in various situations and when you need emergency services.
Watch: What to do if someone is choking
Sharon Kirby-Magill, an EMT and 9-1-1 dispatcher with the New Jersey Emergency Medical Services Task Force, has heard every horror story possible. There are many ways parents should respond if tragedy strikes, she said. But the first step — and most important tip in any emergency situation — is to stay calm. It allows you to think more clearly and analyze your options faster.
Here’s what she said about five potential emergencies.
Keep the poison control center’s phone number at an arm’s reach in your home. They should be able to help guide you through what to do next. Make sure to tell them how much was ingested and keep the packaging with you for reference.
Do not try to induce vomiting or give your child anything to drink until told to by a medical professional or the poison control center. Different chemicals require different treatments.
If your child is near-drowning, make sure to get him out of the body of water and lay him on his side to try to let the fluids drain out. Call 9-1-1, since near-drowning always warrants a hospital visit.
If your child isn’t breathing after you pulled her out of the water, call 9-1-1, and they’ll walk you through CPR, while help is on the way.
Young children don’t always show obvious signs of choking like older kids do, so look for specific signs. If your child can cough or speak, skip the Heimlich maneuver — that has the potential to further block airways. Just keep him calm and have him continue coughing.
If they can’t breathe, they’ll begin to turn blue and eventually pass out. At this point, they need CPR. A 9-1-1 dispatcher can walk you through the steps until an ambulance arrives. If you can see the food that’s obstructing their airway, turn their head to the side and try to swipe the piece out with a small finger.
4. Allergic reaction
Make sure you know whether the allergic reaction is life-threatening. Rashes and swelling are much different from anaphylactic shock. Regardless, make sure to remove your child from the environment containing the allergen.
If your child has an EpiPen and you use it, make sure to still take her to the hospital. The half-life of a EpiPen only lasts 15 minutes, so the reaction can reoccur. If your child’s airway is compromised at all, call 9-1-1 immediately. That’s not the time to risk driving your child to the hospital yourself.
5. Car accident
If you get in an accident with your child in the car, err on the side of caution. Let EMTs check out your child, even if they say he is fine. You can’t be too safe.
Follow up with your child’s pediatrician afterward to make sure nothing was missed. Remember: You can’t use a child’s car seat after it has been exposed to a wreck. Make sure to get a new one, and your local police department can make sure it’s installed correctly.