As families shelter in place, our homes have become our offices, schools and playgrounds. With families spending so much of their time together under one roof, the risk of injuries to kids is increasing.
Calls to poison control centers involving the ingestion of hand sanitizer in children under age 12 increased by more than 50% in March 2020 compared with January 2020, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
“Be sure that toxic products, including hand sanitizer, bleach and bleach-containing agents that you are using to keep your house clean, are stashed away in either a locked cabinet or up on a shelf where there is no way that your kids can reach them,” says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw.
Keep the number for poison control posted on the fridge or by the phone, or save it to your mobile phone contacts, where you can easily access it: 1-800-222-1222.
More kids injured in falls
Providers at Eugene Pediatric Associates have seen more kids recently who have been injured in falls from bikes and skateboards, trampolines and trees.
“Kids are natural climbers, and they’re looking for things to climb. They can’t go to the park, so we’ve had a number of kids climbing trees, falling and hurting their heads really badly,” Dr. Bradshaw says.
Be sure that kids are supervised when outdoors and that they are wearing appropriate safety gear, such as helmets.
Conduct a household safety check
Take a few minutes to identify and handle any hidden hazards in your home that could cause injury or death, including:
- If you have firearms in your home, be sure they are locked up and secured.
- All medications, even over-the-counter remedies, should not be accessible to kids of any age.
- Be sure your windows have safety guards.
- Anchor furniture. Two thirds of TV and furniture tip-over fatalities involve toddlers ages two to five. Anchor TVs and furniture to the walls to avoid tip-overs. In addition, do not leave items such as remote controls and toys in places where kids can’t reach them and store heavier items on lower shelves and in lower drawers.
Now is a good time to check on your children’s toys, especially toys with small parts and button batteries. Button batteries are extremely dangerous if ingested, and you only have about two hours to get your child to the hospital before they are at risk for major injury or even death. To protect kids from ingesting button batteries:
- Store them out of children’s reach.
- Dispose of old batteries safely. A button battery that is no longer able to power a device still has a charge, and it can harm a child if it gets lodged in their ears, nose or throat.
- Apply tape to the battery compartments of devices to make it hard for little fingers to get at the battery inside.
Sheltering in place has provided more time for many families to tackle home improvement projects and yardwork. Be aware of potential dangers to children by making sure power tools are not left unattended, and that toxic materials like paint are stored safely away. And be sure to check your yard for dangerous plants. Plants are a leading cause of poisoning among preschoolers.
When mowing the lawn, be sure to follow these safety tips:
- Ensure that children are indoors or at a safe distance from the area you plan to mow.
- Clear the mowing area of any objects, such as twigs, stones and toys, that could be picked up and thrown by the lawn mower blades.
- Make sure your mower is in good condition and protective guards, shields, the grass catcher and other safety equipment are placed properly.
- Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes with slip-proof soles, close-fitting clothes, hearing protection and safety goggles or glasses with side shields (especially when mowing near gravel).
- Do not pull the mower backward or mow in reverse unless absolutely necessary. If you must mow in reverse, look for children or objects behind you.
What if my child gets injured?
If your child gets hurt and it is not a life-threatening injury, call your doctor rather than rushing to the hospital. However, if your child needs immediate medical help or is having trouble breathing, call 911.
To prepare for unexpected injuries, check out this first aid guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics.