As any parent or child caregiver can tell you, keeping kids safe—especially into-everything toddlers—takes a lot of planning ahead. We look around the house or yard and try to think like they do: What will they be attracted to? What will they pick up and put in their mouths? How high can they reach? Etc….
And sometimes we fail.
I just watched two video clips of ER docs talking about some common injuries they see, and what parents can do to make their homes more safe.
The first is from the TV show The Doctors: 3 Dangerous Drugs that Can Put Kids at Risk with a Single Dose
OK, why it’s titled 3 dangerous drugs, I don’t know, because they only talk about 2 types of drugs. Still, these two are important.
- Narcotics: Our country is experiencing a prescription pain killer overdose epidemic. In the last 20 years, the number of prescriptions written for drugs like oxycodone and hydrocodone has quadrupled! That means there are a lot of these drugs in a lot of households. And they are seriously strong—one tablet swallowed by a small child is enough to depress breathing to the point of death.
- Drug patches: I hadn’t thought about this before watching the video, but of course many people would simply toss a used medication patch into the garbage can. Where a toddler could find it and stick it in his mouth. Yuck. And there could still be enough drug left on the patch to cause harm. Patches are commonly used for hormones, nicotine for smoking cessation, and strong pain killers.
The ER doc had these tips to keep drugs away from kids:
- Watch out for “Grandma’s Purse Syndrome”: Haha, I like this visual. Family members and visitors may bring medications with them in their purses or pockets. Especially an elderly family member who may take several medications at different times during the day. Don’t be afraid to ask these visitors about any medications, and then make sure they (the drugs, not the people) are placed well out of reach.
- Think “Triple-Layer Protection”: Child-proof lids are not enough. Drugs should also be behind a locked cabinet door that is out-of-reach.
- Call medicine “Medicine”: Teach kids early that drugs are not candy or toys. It’s tempting, I know, to coax a recalcitrant kid to take a medication by saying “It’s yummy,” or something like that, but don’t.
Every parent, grandparent or babysitter should also have the number of the National Poison Center in their cell phone or posted near a landline: Poison Help 1-800-222-1222
The other video was from a local news station. An ER doc talked about some of the most frequent injuries he sees in children: ER doctor reveals surprising home dangers
- Trampolines: “There’s not any safe way to do it.” I agree. He didn’t like it, but I never allowed my son to play on one. Even those that are low to the ground. It’s just too unpredictable and too easy for a kid to land heavily on her head or neck. Scary.
- High chairs: When you buy a high chair, make sure it has a wide base to prevent tipping over, and always use the safety harness or belt that should come with it.
- Button batteries: These small batteries are in lots of electronics and toys. Very easy to swallow. In a young enough child it can be a choking risk, but it can also leak battery acid and corrode the esophagus.
- Magnets: There’s been a lot of press (and recalls) over the last few years involving small magnets because, tragically, several children have died as a result of swallowing two or more. Again, it’s more than a choking risk. If the magnets get into a child’s intestines, and then they pull together like magnets do (opposites attract!), it causes a life-threatening condition called a bowel obstruction, which requires emergency surgery.
- Cup Noodles: I hadn’t thought of this one, but now it seems obvious. Anything heated up in a microwave can get super hot. Liquids, such as these instant soups in styrofoam cups, can easily spill and burn the skin of young children. Microwaved foods don’t heat up evenly, either, so a food can seem cool enough on the outside, but still be blistering hot on the inside. A child could bite into an innocent-looking burrito and end up with serious burns inside his mouth. Use microwaves with caution!
Child-proofing is really a never ending task. Stay vigilant and if you have kids or are around kids frequently, please consider taking a first aid class!
Related post: Be prepared – Learn basic first aid