Toddler Dies at Phoenix Preschool
We are deeply saddened to learn that a child died at a Phoenix preschool on October 23, 2018, after choking on food. The preschool, located at Ninth Street and Bell Road, was staffed with teachers who were trained to manage urgent situations, according to school officials. However, when they found the toddler, he was unresponsive and appeared to have something stuck in his airway. They called 911 immediately but the child died the following day in the hospital. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the child as they deal with this devastating loss.
Daycares and preschools are responsible for the care of young children and even infants. For that reason, there must be extra precautions in place to keep children safe. Younger children are more likely to be injured or die from choking, falling, and drowning incidents, as well as from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. In fact, according to a study released in early 2000 in the publication “Pediatrics,” 20% of SIDS cases occurred while the child was in daycare or preschool. According to another study, one U.S. child chokes to death every five days, and 75% of choking deaths occur in children younger than 3 years old. Choking death is, in fact, the leading cause of death for that age group.
What Can Parents Do?
While most daycares and preschools have qualified staff on hand to deal with injuries, parents can take it a step further and make sure all staff are up to date on CPR and First Aid training. Parents can ask what other training childcare providers receive, how accessible a phone is to call 911, what the emergency response time is from the nearest hospital to the school, and what precautions the school takes to minimize the risk of injury. Schools should, at minimum, follow these steps:
• All licenses are current and the paperwork is prominently displayed
• The school regularly consults with or employs a child healthcare consultant
• Toys are clean and do not present a choking hazard
• Snacks are allergen-free and cut small enough not to present a choking hazard
• Stairs are properly blocked by gates
• Outlets are child-proofed
• Window blind strings are looped up out of reach
• Staff is trained in First Aid and CPR
• There are no more than four children per caregiver, unless the children are older than 3 years
• All policies are in writing
• Parents can drop in at any time, but doors are secure and locked to strangers
• Children are supervised at all times
• The school has procedures for fires, earthquakes, and other potential disasters
• The outdoor play areas are properly fenced and have safe equipment
• There are adequate fire and carbon monoxide alarms
• Teachers are qualified, have clean background checks, and there is not a high turnover rate
You can also ask the school when was the last time they had to call for emergency services, and what was the circumstance? Check with the licensing department to make sure the school hasn’t had any reported incidents or lapses in their licensing. Make sure they are also insured. Even the best schools can’t prevent all injuries and accidents, but by doing your homework, you can make sure you choose the safest environment for your child.