Most of us secure book cases, keep the medicine out of reach and use outlet protectors to keep our children safe around the house. What are some of the less recognized dangers that can be overlooked?
1. Laundry Pods. They are so pretty and colorful you just want to eat them. Well, almost 3000 children have been injured either from ingesting the contents or getting them into their eyes, noses and mouths. These highly concentrated detergents can cause burning, swelling and destruction of tissues to the mouth, throat, airway, and eyes of children. Ingestion in some children has led to respiratory damage requiring a breathing tube and intensive care unit hospitalization. Fortunately no deaths have been reported. Keep these detergents up and out of reach of children. Print out this Poison Control Sheet regarding highly concentrated packets of laundry detergent.
2. Acetaminophen (Tylenol). We give it to infants, it must be harmless, right? WRONG. Acetaminophen overdose can cause liver damage and even death. If you had Vicodin or blood pressure medicine around the house, you would consciously put it in a place that children cannot reach it. However, acetaminophen does not seem as dangerous and we use it more frequently so many parents keep it in a handy place like next to the sink, in a kitchen or bathroom cabinet. Also, I cannot tell you how many parents estimate the acetaminophen dose based on another siblings dose. The minimum toxic dose of acetaminophen for a single ingestion is 150 mg/kg. That means for a 22 pound 1 year old, 3 extra strength adult capsules. The highly concentrated infant acetaminophen (80 mg acetaminophen per 0.8 mls) would only take 3 teaspoons to reach toxic levels in the same child. This concentration is no longer available but many families have not disposed of the old formulation. Fortunately the new concentration of 160 mg per 5 mls would take 9 tsp but the risk still exists. Additionally, do not give more than 5 doses of acetaminophen in 24 hours.
•Keep acetaminophen and all medications locked and out of children’s reach
•Do not guess or estimate doses of any medicines. Keep weight based dosages for acetaminophen in a handy place.
•Discard all infant acetaminophen that is the old formulation (80 mg/0.8mls)
3. Heavy stocking holders that sit on a mantle/shelf. They are so cute and you don’t have to put holes in your mantle to hang the stockings. However, every year I see a few kids who enjoyed the stocking holder loveliness too, until they tugged on the stocking, pulling the heavy holder down onto their heads and ended up in the ER for stitches. Use a hook or nail and keep the stocking holders for when the kids are in college.
4. Cleaning products. This one kills me. I love when my house smells all fake lemon fresh. Who wants their house to smell like VINEGAR!?!? But alas, although the research is sketchy, it makes sense to me that strong chemical smells, cleaners that are skin, airway, eye, mouth and throat irritants are not beneficial for my family. Here are some homemade cleaning supplies suggestions and please, if you have any other ideas, let me know. Be careful about tricky, “Green” labeling, these products often contain the same chemicals as the traditional cleaners.
5. Carbon Monoxide (CO). There are two lies that parents tell pediatricians and we know it! One is “I ALWAYS smoke outside” and the other is “Um, yes we have carbon monoxide detectors”. GET ONE! According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 1,500 Americans die each year from accidental exposure to Carbon Monoxide.
Some suggestions when buying a CO detector:
- When buying a CO detector, check for the UL approved label.
- Digital display models show the CO level, rather than simply beeping.
- Install CO detectors in a central area on every floor and near sleeping areas.
- Detectors should be placed at least five feet above the ground, as CO rises.
- Hard-wired and plug-in models won’t work during a power outage.
- Like smoke detectors, batteries need to be replaced each year.
- CO detectors lose sensitivity over time and should be replaced every five years.
Source: Consumer Report 2005