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Daffodils and Parmesan and Kids…Who Knew??

Spring is here. Flowers are in bloom. In Connecticut Daffodils - beautiful but dangerousone local town celebrates the arrival of spring with an annual daffodil festival. In fact – thousands of flowers. I wonder how many people know that the bulbs of the plant are among the most poisonous of all plants in the US.

And who doesn’t like a little Parmesan cheese sprinkled on- well in my house, on just about everything. And I like the bright inviting colors of the packaging- inviting me to indulge. Unfortunately Comet cleanser has equally colorful packaging. And certainly you never accidentally put your comet in the fridge and the Parmesan under the sink but look at products the way a child would. They are drawn to bright colors and to things that Mom and Dad handle and use.

Antifreeze used to smell really nice and became a common poison to our animals and kids. Manufacturers are no longer allowed to add perfumes to make the product smell better. Believe it or not, antifreeze performance does not improve with the addition of perfume and without it kids and dogs are safer.

So as you go about enjoying spring, getting back out into the world, maybe doing a little “post-pandemic” spring cleaning- check to make sure that your cabinets, both kitchen and bath have child proof locks. In the garage double check that kids can’t get in or that products are well out of reach. Also make sure that shelving is very secure and won’t fall over onto curious, climbing kids. And finally check your fridge for Comet- just to be safe.

Accidental poisoning CAN be prevented- take a few minutes to check things out- don’t guess, be sure.

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Editors Note: This post originally ran in May of 2010 and was written by our former PedSafe EMS Expert Jim Love. Our thanks to him for some wonderful reminders

Making Play Dough – A Family First Aid Fiasco

Reading the post, First Aid Basics Every Parent Should Know, from Kristin Bailey Murphy reminded me of one of our own first aid experiences. Kids may be accident magnets…but it doesn’t help when Mom and Dad have a “dumb parent moment”!

Our Emergency

This first aid fiasco was rooted in “mommy-guilt”. When my son was two years old I started taking him to crafty enrichment classes at our local children’s museum every Saturday. I was working a lot during that period and this was a chance to spend time together while also feeling like I was doing something for his development.

It was in these classes that I learned the recipe for homemade play dough. Wow…not only could we share these classes together….but I could give my young son safe, edible (what doesn’t a two-year old eat?) play dough THAT I MADE MYSELF! But, seriously, the stuff is really easy and fun to make – and even at age two Elliott could help in making play dough, since you have to knead the dough while it cools.

No, the issue came from me trying to add that little something extra – a little more mommy-love. The museum jazzed up their dough with glitter and some peppermint oil for fragrance. So I went out and bought a few different essential oils – for variety. On the particular day in question, with Elliott standing on a chair at the kitchen counter helping me as I started making play dough, I decided to try cinnamon oil. Only the lid was really tight. My husband was nearby so I asked him to open the bottle (one of several great husband roles!) – which he promptly did. But I didn’t notice since I was occupied by congealing play dough in a pot on the stove. And he didn’t realize that I didn’t notice. Communication breakdown! But our 2-year old noticed…and promptly poured concentrated food-grade cinnamon oil all over himself. Essential oils, like cinnamon oil, can be toxic to the skin in high concentrations and can result in itching, burning, redness and inflammation. Suddenly we had a screaming child in the kitchen – and had to deal with a poison control situation!

What To Do (and Not To Do!)

We knew we had to get the oil off his skin quickly – and keep him from spreading it to other areas like his face, since he had it on his hands as well. My husband stripped off his clothes immediately and held his arms down while rushing him to the bathroom. In the meantime I was calling our local Poison Control Center.

Since he was so young our first reaction was to put him in the bath, but as soon as the water started to pool around him we realized our mistake. This wouldn’t wash away the oil. It might just get it on more of his body. And that’s just what the Poison Control experts said. They recommended flushing water over the affected area for a full 20 minutes, especially since he had a definite red rash where his skin had come in contact with the oil. To best accomplish this and to soothe Elliott, my husband stripped down and got into the shower as well. That way he could be sure of the water temperature and that the right skin areas were in the water flow. Thankfully the shower had an almost immediate effect. The crying stopped very quickly – and after the full 20 minutes there were no lasting marks or redness. But for several years our son did have an aversion to “cimmomon”!

How To Be (Better) Prepared

Obviously keep all essential oils out of the reach of children – and be careful when using them in the presence of kids. Something we became acutely aware of! As Kristin pointed out in her post, also be sure to have the number of your local Poison Control prominently displayed. But if you need to find it quickly – like we did – just look on the first page of your white or yellow pages.

And here is the infamous play dough recipe. Despite this incident we’ve had many years of safe fun and success with it.

Homemade Play Dough

1 Cup Flour

1 Cup Water

1 Tbs Vegetable Oil

½ Cup Salt

1 Tsp Cream of Tartar

A few drops of Food Coloring or Essential Oil (e.g. Peppermint Oil) {optional}

Glitter {optional}

Cook over medium heat until mixture pulls away from sides of pan and becomes play dough in consistency (add glitter part way through this process, before the dough becomes too thick). Remove from pan and knead until cool. Keeps 3 months unrefrigerated in a sealed zip-closure bag.

Warning! Your Kids & Grandkids Think Gummy Meds Are Delicious

Mommies and Daddies, Grandmas and Grandpas, listen up. There are many prescription and non-prescription medications kept around the home that could be a danger for your children/grandchildren should they find these and “taste” them.

One of the more common of these “medicines” include the variety of vitamins, minerals and supplements found in homes now. While most vitamins are “benign” when inappropriately ingested, there are some that might cause problems in children who ingest large amounts, such as vitamin D, A, and certain minerals in excess. Not all supplements and “alternative” medical cures have been regulated by our FDA and therefore the correct dosages of these have not been calculated. While ingestion of a single chewable, gummy or regular tablet would probably be OK in a child, it is most of the time impossible to say how many have been consumed. As a result, even in adults, the dosage is not accurate and this is magnified in a smaller lighter- weight child. Therefore, these should be kept out of the reach of children.

Also among the most common of these are the pain relievers- such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen. Aspirin, fortunately, is not as popular as it used to be, but was responsible for a good proportion of accidental poisonings in children. This medication in excess caused severe derangements in hydration and acid/base balance in children and occasionally led to death. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) in excess could lead to kidney problems and possibly go on to kidney dysfunction and failure, while acetaminophen, also in excess, has been responsible for liver problems and possible liver failure and death. Treatment for any of these “poisonings” is not 100% effective and so, like all other issues, prevention is the best medicine. The problem with these meds is that they are very common in households and are considered to be “benign” so efforts to hide them are not realized. Also, we can’t forget that “normal dosages” for these drugs vary with age and weight, and children are at much higher risk than adults for complications at much lower doses. This rule holds for all medications and drugs.

The stronger pain medications that could be found around the home after surgery or injury are far more dangerous in that they are almost all depressants and can slow down heart rate and respirations to the point of coma and death.

Specific medications for specific ailments; high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, etc. should always be kept locked up as, while these medications do a very good job for those who need them, can cause problems of varying nature if taken by those people (children) who do not need them. And again the rule of age and weight applies here also.

Antibiotics are found around the home when they are being used or if they are “saved to be used another day”. This is a very poor practice, but not uncommon, as the price of these drugs keeps going up- throw away any unused antibiotics. Unless a person (child) is allergic to these medications, or consumes very large amounts they do not cause as many problems as the medications mentioned above.

As a rule, keep any medication and vitamins, minerals and supplements out of the reach of children and locked in a safe place- assume that any one or more of these could cause serious problems for your children or grandchildren.

If the child is found near an open bottle of any medication, particularly if there are traces of that medicine in or around his/her mouth or pills are found lying on the floor nearby, assume the worst and call poison control (everyone should have the phone number of local poison control centers nearby) and then the Doctor. Have the bottle of the medicine in front of you when you call (if possible) so that you can answer any questions that are asked. Remember that prevention is the best “cure” for poisonings because there is often no good way of treating these problems after the fact.

US Toll-Free Poison Help Line

1-800-222-1222

Call is free and confidential

Connects you with your local poison control center

Kids and Household Chemicals: How to Avoid a Trip to the ER

How many of us here are guilty of wanting a clean home? Or a clean classroom for our children? Or even a clean car? Please raise your hands. I am hoping that all of you raised your hands and said I do I do. Keeping the areas that your children live in and frequent clean and as germ-free as possible is an obsession of just about every parent I know. We use hand sanitizer every time we touch or think we may have touched something and we use sanitizing wipes to wipe down every surface that our kids touch and then we wipe down our kids. It’s a never ending cycle. The bottom line being that we want our kids areas clean. There is nothing wrong with having these areas clean but aside from living in a bubble, this means that you are going to have to clean and this inevitably means using some form of chemical or chemicals and that is where the danger starts.

According to Yahoo Health and Wellness, more than 7 million accidental poisonings occur each year and 75% of those involve children under age 6. Injuries vary from minor such as itching or irritation to more severe injuries such as breathing difficulties, internal injuries and sometimes even death. Household poisonings typically involve medicines, household products and cosmetics that were left out, unlocked and easily accessible. Some of the packaging and labels on these products is very close in color and animation to some of the foods our kids love to eat and is many times confused as a snack or drink when it is in fact a chemical such as glass cleaner. The whole key to trying to avoid these terrible situations is prevention. A little planning now can make all the difference later.

Some Poison Prevention Tips:

  • Keep medicines and chemicals out of sight and reach of children, preferably in a locked cupboard or childproof chemical lock box.
  • Wherever possible, buy products in child resistant containers
  • Always store chemicals in their original containers
  • Dispose of unwanted medicines and chemicals safely
  • Never store chemicals near Food to avoid possible confusion.
  • Write this down and memorize it: Poison Control 1-800-222-1222

What if I am unsure about what has happened and need help? I will tell you what I tell everyone who has a “what if” question about injuries. Call 911. The dispatchers can help you while the emergency crew is on the way and may even be in contact with poison control at the same time.

Kids are naturally curious and explore every nook and cranny of their homes and will unfortunately find anything you have left lying about or unlocked. While we cannot stop every injury from household items we can lessen the blow by spending some time on prevention and educating our children as to what is safe and what is not.

How Can I Avoid Food Poisoning During Pregnancy?

You can avoid food poisoning during pregnancy by:

  • not eating some foods – see foods to avoid during pregnancy
  • washing your hands before handling food
  • thoroughly washing all fruit and vegetables, including prepared salads, before eating
  • washing your hands, all surfaces and utensils after preparing raw meat
  • thoroughly cooking raw meat so there is no trace of pink or blood
  • heating ready meals (*pre-packaged meals) until they are piping hot all the way through – this is especially important for meals containing poultry
  • keeping leftovers covered in the fridge and using them within 2 days
  • eating food before it has passed its “use by” date
  • preventing cross-contamination (when harmful bacteria is spread between food, surfaces and equipment)

There are several types of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. These include:

  • salmonella
  • campylobacter
  • listeria

Salmonella

Salmonella is found in:

  • raw meat and poultry
  • unpasteurised milk
  • raw eggs and raw egg products

Although salmonella food poisoning is unlikely to harm your baby, it can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting.

To reduce your risk of salmonella infection:

  • choose British Lion Code of Practice eggs (in the UK) if you want to have raw or partially cooked eggs – these eggs have a red lion logo stamped on their shell and are considered safe to eat runny
  • avoid raw or partially cooked eggs that are not part of the lion code, and avoid food that may contain them, such as homemade mayonnaise – cook these eggs until the whites and yolks are solid
  • avoid raw or partially cooked meat, especially poultry

Campylobacter

Campylobacter is found in:

  • raw and undercooked meat, especially poultry
  • unpasteurised milk
  • untreated water

You can reduce your risk of campylobacter infection by:

  • washing your hands thoroughly before preparing and eating food, and after handling raw food
  • not washing raw poultry
  • keeping cooked food away from raw food
  • cooking food thoroughly, especially meat and poultry, so it’s piping hot
  • keeping all kitchen surfaces and equipment clean, such as chopping boards and dish cloths
  • not drinking untreated water from lakes, rivers or streams

Listeria

Listeria can cause an infection called listeriosis. Although the infection is rare, even a mild form of listeriosis in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in newborn babies.

Listeria can be found in unpasteurised milk and in many chilled foods, including:

  • pâté
  • mould-ripened soft cheeses and soft blue-veined cheeses
  • cooked sliced meats
  • smoked salmon

You can reduce your risk of listeriosis by:

  • not eating certain foods while pregnant, such as some soft cheeses and all types of pâté – see foods to avoid during pregnancy
  • not drinking unpasteurised milk – only drink pasteurised or UHT milk
  • heating ready meals or reheated food until they’re piping hot all the way through
  • making sure your fridge is set at 5C or below and working correctly
  • not using food after its “use by” date

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

 

Editor’s Note:

* Clarification Provided for our U.S. Readers

NHS Choices logo


From www.nhs.uk





Nicotine Poisoning: How to Keep Your Child Safe

Congratulations, you have quit smoking. It is a huge step that can add years to your life and give you more time to spend with the ones you love. While quitting smoking is not an easy task, there is a whole industry now providing the products used to replace cigarettes called NRT or Nicotine Replacement Therapy. The most common items used to replace smoking are nicotine gum, the nicotine patch, and now the world has been introduced to the e-cigarette or vape.

The most common way children are exposed to nicotine and experience a reaction is direct exposure to nicotine they find around the house.

It goes without saying that anything left out, the kids will find, and that holds true in this case too. Kids will find a pack of gum and chew it or they will find a patch and use their bare hands to remove it from its applicator absorbing the nicotine through their skin. In a growing number of cases now, children are finding the liquid that is put into the vaporizers or e-cigarettes and drinking it because it looks like juice. In all of these examples the child gets exposed to nicotine and can have a reaction.

Nicotine poisoning tends to produce symptoms that follow a pattern. Nicotine poisoning symptoms are caused by extreme stimulation of nicotine in the central and autonomous system and the neuromuscular junction. At lower doses, nicotine causes stimulating effects on the receptors present there but at higher doses or more sustained exposure, the effects are inhibitory and can lead to neuromuscular problems.

The first symptoms are usually the result of the stimulating nature of nicotine. These include:

  • vomiting
  • hypertension
  • headaches
  • excessive salivation
  • seizures

After the first phase of symptoms, other symptoms caused by the depressor effects of nicotine follows. These include:

  • muscular weakness
  • central nervous system depression
  • paralysis
  • coma
  • labored breathing
  • respiratory failure

Exposure to electronic cigarettes and liquid nicotine is also quickly becoming a major issue. In 2014, more than 50 percent of nicotine poisoning cases occurred in children under the age of 6. Children and toddlers who come in contact with e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine become very ill very quickly and they exhibit all the symptoms. It is harmful to them and adults should be extremely careful where they keep or place these products.

According to Medline, nicotine overdose may present many potential symptoms. These can include:

  • Nausea and abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Irregular breathing – either rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Convulsions
  • Confusion
  • Drooling
  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Fainting

In severe cases, the person may stop breathing. Seizures and coma have also been reported.

If you find your child with any of these symptoms and believe they have ingested nicotine please take them to the emergency room right away or call 911 and get professional help. In the case that your child presents with irregular breathing or any type of altered mental status, please call 911 first.

While we all congratulate you for taking the steps to quit smoking, please be cognizant of the new items that you are using, where you keep those items, and the risk they can pose to your family.

Thank you and please be safe.

Greg

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