Child Holiday Hazards — 5 Things to Look Out For
Even for the best of parents, the holiday season is packed with distractions — cooking, cleaning and entertaining the guests, to name a few — that can force you to take your eyes off the children for a couple minutes.
But it takes just seconds for a young child's curiosity to turn into tragedy.
We chatted with the New Jersey Poison Control Center to discuss the common hazards you should look out for over the next several days, and the typical types of calls they receive this time of year.
1. Disc batteries
So far in 2017, the center sent more than 30 children to hospital emergency rooms for swallowing a disc battery.
The tiny, circular batteries can be found in toys, games, flashing costume jewelry and singing greeting cards.
"When a child swallows a disc battery, you're in a race against time," said Diane Calello, the center's director. "Because it can burn through the esophagus very quickly and it's literally one of the most dangerous things in a young child's environment.
When relatives come into your home for the holidays, so do their medications.
"A lot of times what we see is a young child who gets into grandma's toiletry bag or luggage and swallows a harmful medication," Calello said.
The center recommends you offer a safe, locked and out of sight spot for relatives and holiday visitors to store their medicines.
If accidentally swallowed by children, leftover cocktails can be fatal, the center warns. Ingesting even a small amount can be very toxic.
"We like to drink cocktails and be merry, and sometimes those cocktails are left out and they're enticing to a young chlld," Calello said. "It kind of looks like punch or something that might be delicious."
Always empty beverage glasses, the center advises, and place them out or reach of curious children and/or pets.
4. Small magnets
If a child consumes two or more magnets, they can attract to each other, Calello noted. You must get help immediately.
"If it's at two separate spots in the intestine, that can cause the intestine to twist and can cause an obstruction or a blockage, which needs surgery," she said.
5. Carbon monoxide
"This is the time of year, hands down, when we see the most carbon monoxide exposures," Calello said.
Symptoms of poisoning by the colorless, odorless gas can easily be confused with symptoms of the common cold or flu, so you're urged to have a CO detector on every level of your home and near every sleeping area.
Typical culprits of rising carbon monoxide levels are fireplaces, generators, gas appliances and fireplaces.
New Jersey's Poison Center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. About half of the poisonings the center handles involve children under the age of 6.