● By Wendy Sipple
As parents, we strive to do everything possible to keep our kids – no matter what their age – out of harm’s way, but sometimes commonly-used items elude us as being potentially hazardous.
You might be shocked to learn that just locking up those chemical products and prescription drugs might not always be enough.
1. Small Food Items and Toys. “Big kids...foreign bodies. I had a toddler who put an M&M up his nose this week – a red one,” says Dr. Lee Anne Wong, pediatrician with Sutter Medical Group. “Another little guy came in with a purple something in his ear which he denied ever putting in there...it just appeared. My husband [who is also a pediatrician] and I have also fished a little toy called a “Micro Machine” that was up a little boy’s nose – it was a tiny little metal vehicle. I haven’t seen them for many years, probably because people were putting them up their noses,” says Dr. Wong.
2. Tylenol and Over-the-Counter Drugs. “A surprising number of parents overdose their kids on Tylenol thinking more is better,” according to Dr. Jeffrey Fisch, pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente. “Also, older kids abuse Tylenol as a method of suicide because it can rot away the liver. Once ingested in large doses, it’s just a waiting game to see if the liver will survive or not, so I always emphasize for people to follow the label with any over-the-counter drugs.”
As a precaution, Dr. Wong recommends that all parents have the number for Poison Control readily available to call in case there is a known or possible ingestion of a dangerous substance. The call center personnel have access to a huge databank of information that includes brand name products, in addition to ingredients and potential side effects of ingestion. They are able to direct people to appropriate care – wait and watch, or proceed to nearest emergency room.
3. Aerosol Products. “Aerosols including spray paint, hair spray, etc., can be abused by older kids who are huffing,” says Dr. Wong. “Parents should be aware of where they store these products in the household and who has access to them.”
On a more specific note, severe and sometimes fatal allergies or sensitivities to certain everyday products and food items are becoming much more prevalent. Parents, as well as schools, must be extremely vigilant about making their environments sensitive to these needs.
4. Chemical Allergies. “We have students and staff who are sensitive to perfumes, deodorants, etc., as well as a number of students who have medically-diagnosed skin conditions that require special attention. In response, one of the things we have done is replace the alcohol-based hand sanitizers with non-alcohol-based products,” says Mary Ann Delleney, RN, BSN, MBA Coordinator, Health Programs for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District.
5. Food Allergies. “A growing number of our students have allergies to foods commonly served to children, such as peanuts, eggs, wheat and many other items,” says Delleney. “When we know that a student has a food allergy, special precautions are taken to minimize exposure and make sure the student has a place in the cafeteria that has been cleaned appropriately and that is a zone where the particular food is not allowed. We have certain peanut-free zones, for example.”
Whether the potential hazard is a purple toy or a peanut, we can never be overly cautious about the wellbeing of our children. Inevitably, though, something is bound to happen to the most well-watched toddler or teen and when it does, just remember that you’re not alone, and that help is just a phone call away.
For more information, visit poison.org or call 800-222-1222.