PARENTHOOD IS AMONG THE MOST FULFILLING AND CHALLENGING TIMES OF A PERSON’S LIFE. Parents take responsibility for another life. There will be milestones to hit, birthdays to celebrate, and graduation ceremonies to attend. Unfortunately, children are at risk for cardiac arrest (CA), choking, or other trauma. Congenital health problems, sports, and everyday events increase the risk for CA As explained by the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR), out-of-hospital cardiac arrest rates in children open the door to a disturbing reality, higher mortality than adults, but obtaining Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification in preparation for parenthood could be the solution.
Why Do Parents Need BLS Certification?
Children suffering from an out-of-hospital CA have the mortality rates as children at the close of the 20th century. Childhood risks can be terrifying to new adults. Children with chronic health conditions may be more likely to experience sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Such health conditions include the following:
- Early-onset diabetes, which increases mortality risk of SCA seven-fold, says the ILCOR.
- Congenital heart problems, like arrhythmias or vascular malformations.
- Existence of cardiovascular problem risk factors, like obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, and nicotine-containing products, including e-cigarette vapors and products, as explained by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
- An anaphylactic reaction to an allergen, which constricts ability to breathe.
An airway obstruction, as seen when choking, can also contribute to risk for CA. According to the New York Department of Health, choking is the fourth leading cause of death in children under age 5. While the most common cause of choking is food, toys, latex-containing materials, such as balloons or gloves, and small objects can become deadly in an instant, especially for children learning to explore the world by taste. Think of infants; infants learn more about the world by chewing on objects, and such actions are essential when teething.
Children also have a higher risk of unintentional injuries, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These injuries include burns, drowning, falls, poisoning, and road traffic. More than 12,000 children die from unintentional injuries, and more than 9.2 million receive treatment in an emergency department for them. In addition, the type of injury and risk differs by age group.
Infants are more likely to suffer from suffocation. Children ages 1 to 4 are more likely to suffer from burns or drowning. As a group, motor vehicle collisions make up the leading cause of death among children above age 5.
Unfortunately, SCA and non-diagnosed heart problems are widely blamed for the causes of death among adolescent athletes during periods of extreme physical stress, such as playing sports, reports the Mayo Clinic. However, the rarity of SCA in adolescent athletes leaves little room for study. According to ILCOR, sports-related SCA accounted for up to 39 percent of all SCAs among youth under age 18. As a result, the Journal cites need to screen for SCA risks in youth. Therefore, preparing parents to perform life-saving measures and recognize the signs of SCA are essential to increase survival rates.
Does BLS Training Pose a Risk to the Unborn Child?
Pregnant women may fear injury to an unborn child when learning how to perform chest compressions and administer rescue breaths. Unfortunately, no study exists on the specific safety of women performing such activities while pregnant. However, the answer to this question depends on the direction of the overseeing obstetrician. Most women are encouraged to engage in a full range of activities, reports TODAY.com, including exercise.
With the approval of a physician, expectant mothers are fully capable of complete in-person training. Of course, other options, like online certification programs, eliminate any perception of physical risk in learning the skills necessary to perform BLS while pregnant. In addition, new technologies, like life-saving virtual reality education, can be used to teach skills to expectant women, worried about physical exertion required in training on mannequins.
Key Aspects of BLS Certification That Help Parents Prepare for the Unexpected
Knowing how to perform BLS is the first step in the Chain of Survival. The Chain of Survival begins with the less-advanced measures possible, like checking for breathing and circulation. As part of BLS training, parents learn how to check for these signs quickly. Unfortunately, people lose precious time when checking for a pulse. If the pulse cannot be felt within five seconds, parents should initiate BLS steps, like repositioning the head.
This step involves placing a hand on the forehead and the other hand to grasp the chin. Tilt the head back slightly while pulling the chin upwards slightly. This essentially lifts the tongue away from the back of the mouth.
If the child is not breathing, parents can deliver two rescue breaths, just enough to the see the chest rise. If a pulse is not present, parents will then move into full CPR, providing the correct ratio of chest compressions to rescue breaths.
Depending on the circumstances surround the loss of consciousness and CA in children, parents may be faced with performing CPR alone or with another person.
Unlike adults, who may have existing health problems and more adept body systems, CA in children is more likely to be the result of trauma or unintentional injury, so getting professional medical help is critical to survival.
Furthermore, parents with infants or very small children have the benefit of taking children suffering from choking or CA with them. As part of an online BLS certification course, parents learn how to provide the basic, life-saving to children for different ages, ranging from infants through adulthood. Having the right training and certification can literally save your child’s life.
Preventing unintentional injuries in children has the added benefit of reducing risk for CA. While parents cannot control everything a child does, especially during school hours, parents can take a few steps to reduce risk. This includes encouraging healthy eating habits and exercising regularly with children. In addition, parents should focus on steps by breaking them down into their dominant categories and areas of risk.
Sports and Childhood Play
Sports and physical activity help prevent health problems later in life, but such activities can be a source of increased risk for SCA. Before and while allowing children to engage in sports, parents need to take these steps:
- Obtain a Clinical SCA Screening Before Enrolling a Child in Sports. A clinical screening rules out additional risks for heart problems that could result in SCA.
- Wear Appropriate Safety Gear. Proper safety gear reduces risk of unintentional injury, and all applicable safety gear for each sport should be used. This includes wearing helmets when learning to ride a bicycle as well.
- Know the Signs of Concussion. CDC.gov published a video dedicated to using proper sporting technique to lower risk of concussion or brain injury. Some of the signs include forgetfulness, temporary paralysis, slurred speech and delayed responses.
- Visit Playgrounds Built With Soft Materials, Like Mulch or Sand, Not Dirt or Grass. Soft materials less the risk of fractures or other injuries resulting from falls. Outdoor play areas at the home should also have the same base materials.
- Encourage Water Consumption During Strenuous Activity. Staying hydrated is key to preventing SCA or other health problems when engaging in sports and strenuous activity. Parents should ensure children have access to clean, cool and plenty of water. Also, children and teenagers should avoid caffeinated beverages when playing sports or engaging in such activities. These measures should also be applied to children entering college for the first time too, which carries its own risk of health problems in close communities.
Preventing Vehicle Crash Injuries in Children
Due to the heightened risk of unintentional injury to children over age 5, parents should take these steps to protect children from vehicle crash injuries.
- Use an Age-Appropriate Car Seat. The CDC provides an excellent list of tips on choosing the right car seat and ensuring the seat belt has less than one-inch of give when used. Also, car seats should be used for children, regardless of age, based on height.
- Children Under Age 12 Should Always Ride in the Backseat. An airbag can kill small children, so children under the age of 12 or those shorter-than-average should ride in the backseat.
- Teach Children of Driving-Age About the Importance of Avoiding Phone Use While Driving. By some estimates, texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while intoxicated
Safety in and Around the Home
The home is a source of great risk for injury. Tips to prevent injury around the home include.
- Secure the Furniture to the Walls. Due to increased risk of injury from tipping furniture after a child climbs it, reports NBC News, most furniture manufacturers have taken steps to create child-safe means of securing furniture to the walls. Parents should also consider ways to mount a stand TV to a surface or use a wall-mounted TV to reduce tipping risk.
- Use Stair Gates to Prevent Falls Down Stairs. Children under the age of 4 may be more likely to fall down a flight of stairs. Install stair gates at the top and bottom of all stairways in the home.
- Keep Medications Away From Children. All medications should be kept in locked containers. Although kid-safe bottles are designed to keep younger children safe, even teenagers should be included in this tip due to the severity and devastation caused by the opioid epidemic.
- Get Rid of Coin-Sized Batteries. Coin-sized lithium-ion batteries can be mistaken for candy or toys by younger children, and if swallowed, these batteries result in severe health risks.
Fire and Burns
More than 300 children under age 19 are treated for burns daily, and two do not survive. Parents should take these steps to reduce risk of burns in children.
- Check Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms Once Per Month. Smoke and CO alarms are essential to waking children from sleep if a fire occurs.
- Go Over Escape Plans With Your Children. If a fire does occur, children need to know how to escape the home or building, even when parents are not present.
- Check Water Heater Temperature. According to the CDC, water heater temperature should be set to 120 degrees F or lower. Younger children are more likely to suffer from scald burns.
- Teach older children and teenagers about fire safety, like not wearing loose clothing when cooking. Older children are more likely to suffer flame burns.
Up to 10 people die each day from drowning, reports the CDC, and two of these people are children under age 14. Drowning is the fifth-leading cause of unintentional injury death in the U.S. Parents with BLS certification can performing lifesaving measures to reducing mortality from drowning, but expectant parents can also help lower risk of drowning with these steps:
- Supervise Children When Playing in or Near Water. In fact, the CDC advises parents to learn CPR and BLS and teach children the basics of swimming before allowing children to play in the water.
- Require Children to Wear a Life Jacket. It is important to ensure life jackets fit properly. Look for a U.S. Coast Guard-Approved life jacket, and the jacket should not slip off easily when worn correctly.
- Parents Should Avoid Distractions When Children Are in Water. Drowning happens fast and quietly. Parents should avoid distractions when supervising children. Distractions include using a smartphone or listening to music too loud.
Get BLS Certified to Plan for Parenthood and Protect Your Children Today
Parenthood is filled with too much enjoyment to have it cut short by cardiac arrest, choking or unintentional injury. In addition to seeing a doctor regularly, purchasing supplies, throwing a baby shower, and setting up the nursery, expectant parents should follow the aforementioned tips and become BLS-certified.
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