As parents, we work diligently to neutralize every possible threat our children may encounter. Unfortunately, some hazards are so innocuous, we don’t even realize they exist. When danger hides in plain sight, the best weapon at our disposal is knowledge.
Here are five household dangers you may not be aware of.
What do electronic toys, watches, and car key fobs have in common? They run on button batteries (also known as coin cell batteries.) These small batteries not only pose a choking hazard, they’ve also been known to cause chemical burns. Lithium batteries in particular contain about three volts of electricity, and are capable of producing hydroxide that burns through the tissues of the throat or esophagus. In as little as two hours, a child can suffer:
- esophageal burns and perforations
- tracheal damage
- vocal cord paralysis
- severe blood loss from intrusion into a vessel
What’s most unfortunate is that, unless a child is observed swallowing the battery, parents and doctors are often not aware of what is causing the symptoms until it is too late. According to the National Poison Data Center, there have been more than 70,000 reported button battery ingestions since 1985. In 2013 alone, 3,366 button battery ingestions were reported, including 13 children who suffered severe injuries and four who died.
Window Blind Cords
When you think of dangerous furnishings, window blinds rarely come to mind. Unfortunately, the cords on window blinds and shades can be deadly if they become tangled around a child’s neck. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that a child dies from window cord strangulation almost every month.
All cords, even the ones inside the blinds, pose a strangulation hazard. Therefore, the best, and safest option, is to go completely cordless.
Your dishwasher opens right at kid-level, giving little ones easy access to sharp knives and dishwasher detergent. Dishwasher detergent is very dangerous if splashed in the eyes or swallowed. It can can cause chemical burns, blindness, low blood pressure, organ damage, and tissue death.
To keep your children safe, point sharp items downward in the utensil basket, and keep the dishwasher closed and latched when it’s not in use. Don’t fill the dispenser with detergent until you’re prepared to run the machine and always store the detergent bottle in a locked cabinet.
Liquid Laundry Detergent Packets
Highly concentrated liquid laundry detergent packets seem to be more toxic than other detergents like laundry powder or dishwasher packets. Like the others, these packets can cause vomiting, throat burns, and eye injuries. Unfortunately, they have also caused children to stop breathing, go into comas, suffer cardiac arrest, and die.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports there has been 4,900 exposures to highly concentrated packets of laundry detergent by children 5 and younger in 2016 alone. Like all other poisonous household cleaners, experts recommend keeping detergent containers stored in a locked cabinet where children cannot get to them.
Though houseplants play several beneficial roles in the home, they can also be highly toxic to children and pets. Unfortunately, keeping plants out of reach of those who might ingest them isn’t always possible. The best course of action is to know which plants are poisonous and avoid having them in the house.
No parent can watch their child every moment of every day. That’s why it’s so important to make the home environment as safe as possible. Our childrens’ lives depend upon it.
For more information on the hazards discussed in this article, please view the following resources:
- Button Batteries: Household Danger Hiding in Plain Sight
- Parents for Window Blind Safety
- The Problem with Laundry Detergent Pods
- American Association of Poison Control Centers
About Liz Greene