First aid and safety

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Health care begins at home — that includes responding to accidents and injuries. Know the difference between a minor injury that can be safely treated at home, and one that requires immediate medical attention.

Read about these emergency topics now, so you'll know what to do if a serious accident occurs.

Learn what to do if your child is choking. Review the choking rescue procedure (Heimlich maneuver).

Take a class in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and become first-aid certified. Review basic CPR instructions.

Make safety in the car a priority

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for children. Use an age- and weight-appropriate car seat for every ride. Install it properly in the back seat.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is now recommending that babies and toddlers be kept in a rear-facing car seat until they are at the upper height and weight limits of their car seat or at least 2 years of age. Recent studies show toddlers are 4 to 5 times safer when they are kept rear-facing.
  • Switch from a car seat to a booster seat when your child weighs 40 pounds. Be sure the lap and shoulder belt are positioned across the child in the back seat. Children should ride in the back seat in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, and have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall, at which point they should fit properly in a seat belt.
  • After outgrowing a booster seat, children under age 13 should always use a seat belt and ride in the back seat.
  • For more information, visit www.healthychildren.orgKaiser Permanente is not responsible for the content or policies of external Internet sites, or mobile apps..

Steps to prevent injuries

Young children are natural explorers. Keep a watchful eye on them at home, and take safety precautions when you're away. Be sure to have a well-stocked medical supply kit in your house and a first aid kit for travel.

Use our childproofing checklist to make your home safe for your kids. And be sure to review the following important safety precautions, which are recommended by our pediatricians.

Safety tips for infants

  • Never leave your child alone at home or in a car.
  • Never shake your baby. Shaking or spanking a baby can cause serious injury or even death.
  • Put your newborn to sleep on his or her back (not on the side or stomach) on a firm, flat mattress to avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Don't use pillows, comforters, sheepskins, or quilts underneath your newborn when he's sleeping.
  • Adult beds, chairs, and sofas can increase the risk of infant suffocation. Have your baby sleep in a crib or bassinet in your bedroom close to your bed. Bed-sharing is not recommended.
  • Remove crib bumpers when your baby is able to pull herself up standing in the crib. Take down mobiles when your baby can push herself up on hands and knees.
  • Avoid walkers. They can tip over easily and lead to serious injury.
  • Protect your baby from direct sunlight. Use a broad-brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirts when appropriate. For babies older than 6 months of age, choose a sunscreen (SPF 30) made for children.

Safety tips for toddlers

  • Watch your child carefully near streets. Children should not cross streets alone until they are at least 8 years old.
  • Teach your child not to accept anything from strangers and not to go with strangers.
  • To prevent burns, keep hot pots and pans, curling irons, irons, coffee cups, candles, and open flame out of your child's reach.
  • Watch your child at all times around water (for example, the pool, hot tub, or bathtub) and teach them to never go into water without an adult around. Knowing how to swim does not make your child "drown-proof."
  • Protect your child from direct sunlight. Use a broad-brimmed hat and sunscreen (hypoallergenic SPF 30, reapplying frequently), and sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts when appropriate.

Safety tips for school-age children

  • Teach your child your home address and phone number, and how and when to call 911.
  • Teach your kids what to do in case of a fire, earthquake, flood, or other natural disaster or emergency situation. Display emergency contact phone numbers prominently in your home. Create a home escape plan.
  • Teach your child how to safely cross the street.
  • Make sure your child wears a properly fitted helmet for biking, scooter riding, skateboarding, rollerblading, skiing, snowboarding, or for any contact sports. Add wrist guards, knee pads, and gloves for skateboarding, rollerblading, and scooter riding.
  • Have your kids use sunscreen (hypoallergenic SPF 30, reapplying frequently), and sunglasses and long-sleeved shirts to protect their skin from direct sunlight.

Safety tips for teens
Accidents are a major killer of teens. Parents can help prevent accidents by giving clear and consistent messages and enforcing basic safety rules. Try to set a good example. Your teen looks to you as a role model.

  • It's safest not to have a gun in the house. If you own a gun, unload it and lock it up.
  • Discourage underage drinking at home or at other locations. Underage drinking is not only illegal, it can contribute to risky behaviors, such as drunk driving or unsafe sexual activity.
  • Show your teen that seat belts are important by wearing one every time you drive. Insist that everyone in the car buckle up, as well.
  • Cell phones and driving don't mix. Do not talk or text on the phone while driving, and talk to your teen about the dangers of distracted driving.
  • Set a good example: Do not drink and drive. Urge your teen to call for a ride if there is no designated driver.
  • Teach your child about peer pressure and the danger of gangs.
  • Talk to your child about gun and school violence.

Reviewed by: Robert Riewerts, MD, 2018

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