Known technically as asphyxiation, suffocation occurs when the body is deprived of oxygen. What is particularly frightening about suffocation is how quickly serious injury and even death ensues; just a few minutes without oxygen can cause brain damage.
Suffocation accidents often occur when an object becomes trapped in air passages, such as food. The victim begins to choke. Actually, as long as the victim is choking he is getting some air, and this is the body’s mechanism for expelling a foreign object. However, without assistance the victim will soon lose consciousness.
Illnesses can cause suffocation as well. Respiratory diseases can leave the lungs and air passages compromised, especially among the very young and elderly. Carbon monoxide and other toxic gases can also cause suffocation.
Children Are at the Highest Risk
By far the largest group that falls victim to suffocation accidents is children, particularly those under age 4. Given that the very young are predisposed to putting things in their mouths, it should come as no surprise that often items become lodged in their throats. Small toys are particularly troublesome. A small child should never be allowed to play with a balloon without supervision. String, ribbons, dental floss, and even cords used to manipulate window blinds are all objects children may be drawn to ingest.
The most helpless of individuals, infants, may be smothered by pillows or stuffed animals left in their cribs. Experts warn that parents should never leave items in a crib that can cover the baby’s face or put pressure on its chest. Mobiles should not be hung overhead.
How Common Is Suffocation?
The statistics tell a sad tale of needless loss. The number of accidental suffocation’s among children has risen for over a decade, with about 1,000 losing their lives annually. Emergency rooms see tens of thousands of victims. Injuries related to asphyxiation number about 18,000 per year. Perhaps the most disturbing statistic, however, is that of death by strangulation. 88% of these fatalities occur among children under age four; and this percentage is on the rise.
Parents can take steps to help prevent their children from being added to the statistics:
- Child-proof the house.
- Use safety plugs on all electrical outlets.
- Keep cords for appliances and drapes out of reach of children. Make sure the child’s bed is free of any objects that can cause injury.
- Cut food into small bites, and teach children to chew their food thoroughly.
- Monitor children while they are eating. Never allow a child run and play while eating.
- Finally, learn CPR and first aid. The Red Cross offers classes for a nominal fee. The time and trouble of a day of training may save a life.
There are instances in which a suffocation accident occurs because of someone else’s negligence. In such cases a victim may be able to sue for damages. If a child dies, a parent may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the defendant. If you or your child is injured because of another’s fault, contact a New York personal injury attorney for a consultation.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York personal injury accident, the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Please contact us at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5486) for a free and comprehensive consultation. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case.