With my son recently turning three years-old I realized that something about parenting has changed in me since that day we brought him home from the hospital for the first time. There are still a lot of common household dangers that we need to stay on top of that very easily work their way into our homes right under our noses. Because I’ve realized, and accepted, how durable and resilient he is, from the countless accidents and playdates, it’s made me less secure on the safety front.
I obviously don’t use, or require others to use, hand sanitizer before coming in contact with my son in any way, like we did when he was a newborn, however, I also don’t scan every single thing that comes into the home and assess the dangers that it could pose to what is easily the most precious thing in my life.
Although the hand sanitizer example may be a tad bit extreme of an example, as that doesn’t last long for anyone (hopefully), I think it paints a clearer picture of what all of us with toddlers can relate to…we’ve become perhaps a bit too relaxed with keeping our home as safe as possible.
That said, let’s be realistic and admit right now that, if this was the zombie apocalypse, we could turn just about anything and everything in our home into a lethal weapon and kill the zombies, or scavenging humans, who are trying to take over our personal Prison or Alexandria (depending on how you look at your particular home of course).
So before we panic, and throw everything out, and live in a sterile bubble, let’s assess some dangers that we wouldn’t think too hard about, but that are easily controllable, as well as come up with some suggestions on how to avoid accidents.
Old Cell Phones
I can say firsthand that we have given our son our old cell phones for him to use as toys. Unfortunately there are a lot of dangerous materials inside these everyday items.
Used cell phones contain hazardous substances and are referred to as electronic hazardous waste (E-Waste). Circuit boards in cellular phones contain arsenic, antimony, beryllium, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel and zinc. The rechargeable batteries used with cellular phones contain cobalt, zinc and copper.
There are even laws that require daycare toys, play equipment, surfaces, fixtures, furniture and supplies be safe and free from the toxic substances within a cell phone. Allowing children in daycare to play with cell phones would be a violation of these regulations.
Don’t give your kids your old cell phones but if you insist on doing so make sure you inspect it regularly to make sure the inside is not accessible and that nothing is leaking out.
After my three year-old’s birthday party we had a ton of balloons floating around the house as if he was Bill Clinton at the Democratic Convention. He was having a blast playing with them, even days after his party, and having almost as much fun with them as he did with his new toys. However, when one popped and he picked up a part of the shrapnel and started examining it I realized that in an instant what could be a toy one second could be a choking hazard the next.
According to DrGreene.com, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, in conjunction with the DuPont Institute, has a study that revealed balloons are the leading cause of childhood deaths from a toy.
One thing I see in a lot of places is to never assume just because a child is over three years-old that they are safer from this danger.
When it comes to balloons, don’t let young children play with them when you are not in the room with them.
An alternative to the more risky latex balloon would be either Mylar or paper balloons.
What fun loving child, or raving teenager, doesn’t love them some glow sticks? Hell, I have some floating around my car from last Halloween that my son uses as “drum sticks” while we’re jamming out to Muse in the car.
Well apparently glow sticks are not powered off of magic and Ectoplasm. They’re instead made up of chemicals that are typically labeled “Non-Toxic” however, it also instructs you to not puncture or cut the plastic on the glow stick so that the chemicals stay contained thus rendering the glow sticks a “safe activity”.
So if they’re “Non-Toxic” why do we have to be worried about their leaking liquid? According to the plethora of Poison Control Centers out there it isn’t deadly but can burn, irritate, and induce vomiting and/or diarrhea (which in turn can cause dehydration which can lead to actual dangerous situations).
It’s better not to take any chances with keeping old ones around for too long after the glowing effect has worn off.
If your child has been exposed to the contents of glow stick and is showing irregular signs of behavior you can always call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
Magnets in Toys
If two magnets, or one magnet and a piece of metal, is ingested then they can attract and attach to one another through the intestinal walls causing blockages, cuts, holes, infections, and even death. So even though magnets don’t seem nearly as life threatening as a glowing ooze they can be much more dangerous.
So the question becomes, how can we avoid any major injuries? First, limit the amount of objects that have magnets or if you have a lot of magnetic items err on the side of weaker ones opposed to bigger, stronger ones. If you do allow stronger magnets in the house check all the toys that have them, like Thomas the Train Engine cars, on a regular basis. This isn’t that hard if you’re spending time with your kids by playing with them…and remember, we have an excuse to be collecting and playing with toys again so let’s take advantage of it!
If you do think your child has swallowed magnets you should call 911 or take them to a hospital emergency room immediately.
Energy drinks have proven very commonplace in these days and times, especially in us parents who are trying to figure out how to get more done in less time. However, they have also proven deadly to younger children. According to Live Science, children under the age of six, who had consumed energy drinks without knowing what they were, had experienced side effects such as seizures, irregular heartbeats, extreme high blood-pressure, liver damage, and even death.
If replacing your energy drinks isn’t an option then it may be best to keep them stored out of sight because, more often than not, the containers are very colorful and appealing to children leaving them no reason to not want to drink it.
If you believe a young child has drank too much from an energy drink, or is showing irregular signs after consuming an energy drink, you can either take them to the emergency room or call 911 or your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222.
In the first half of 2016, poison-control centers nationwide received 6,843 reports of kids (five and younger) ingesting or inhaling pods, or getting pod contents on their skin or in their eyes, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). That is up almost 800 cases during the same time last year, which means this problem isn’t getting better.
Some companies say they have “redesigned” these very convenient detergents however we’re seeing an increase in exposure and injuries so something isn’t being corrected. Just look at them! They look like candy (don’t deny you want to pop one in your mouth as well) but the issue isn’t just the chemicals, as just swallowing average detergent typically only causes a mild upset stomach. The pods, however, contain a highly concentrated amount which proves to be much more hazardous. Also, the size and shape of these pods have proven to be a choking hazard so if not careful this can be a double whammy.
One suggestion is just change your detergent completely for a couple reasons. One reason is the cost of these pods can add up quickly when you can instead be making your own detergent like discussed in Save Money in 2016. There are cheap and easy alternatives if you Google or look on Pinterest because I personally can attest that I now only pay about $15 a year for detergent rather than $15 a jug.
The other reason to change up your pods is if something has chemicals that dangerous in it you may want to think about changing to a chemical-free solution, which many of the recipes you can look up online are.
If your child has been exposed to the contents of a laundry pod you are instructed to call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.