My 11-year old son has always been a curious lad. Since he could crawl, he’s liked to explore our house and beyond. I’d often find him in unusual locations – underneath tables, in cupboards, in closets. One time he decided to explore my bathroom. What happened afterwards gave my wife and me one of the biggest scares of our lives.
We were sitting in the living room watching TV when we realized our son had disappeared. He was 2-years old at the time, and as I just mentioned, he was prone to taking off on an expedition at any given moment. We looked in his usual hiding places and couldn’t find him. My wife went to search in our bedroom and a few seconds later I heard her scream. I ran towards the sound to see what was happening. My wife stood in the middle of our bathroom holding my son with one hand and a small bottle the other.
“He drank this,” she said shoving the bottle into my face.
My heart sank as I read the label. It was a bottle of clipper oil. I kept it on my sink so it would be easily accessible when I needed it to lubricate my clippers before cutting my hair. I looked at my son’s face and saw some oil around his mouth and on his cheeks. I grabbed a towel to clean him up.
“What are we going to do?” My wife asked with panic in her voice.
“Go call Poison Control,” I said. My wife dashed to grab the phone while I continued to clean my son’s face. As I stroked his soft cheeks, terrible thoughts entered my mind. I worked as a safety professional and I was well-aware of the dangers of certain chemicals. I prayed that my son would be okay.
My wife returned to the bathroom, frantically talking to the Poison Control operator. The operator gave us detailed instructions and we followed them to the letter. My son only swallowed a small amount oil and we were able to flush his system before any serious damage occurred.
The next day, we took my son to the doctor as a precaution. The pediatrician checked him out and gave him a clean bill of health. She also gave me a stern lecture on keeping harmful products out of my son’s reach. I sheepishly nodded and promised to do a better job.
Unfortunately, many parents have experienced a similar scenario. Each year, more than 60,000 children are taken to the ER for accidentally ingesting medicines or other products that were left within reach. Children most commonly find these products on kitchen counters, nightstands and dressers, in purses and bags, or on the ground.
What Can Parents Do
Education and awareness about safe medicine storage is key. The following tips will help you to protect your children:
- Teach children that medicine is not candy and you are the one who must give it to them.
- Program the national Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222 into your phone, in case of emergency.
- Store all medicines and vitamins up and away and out of sight, even if you have to use them again in a few hours.
- Keep purses, bags, and coats that contain medicines or vitamins out of reach and sight.
- Never leave medicines or vitamins out on a table, countertop, or sink.
- Always make sure that caps are tightly locked and medicines put away after every use.
- If you can find some Mr. Yuk stickers, place them on potentially harmful products.
- Talk to grandparents and other relatives about keeping medicines out of site especially when kids are around.
We all share a goal of raising happy, confident kids and part of that involves keeping them safe, especially the curious toddlers who tend to explore and climb. You can protect your children by properly storing medicines and keeping dangerous products out of their reach. This simple act can go a long way towards eliminating accidents related to children’s ingesting potentially harmful medicines and products. If you’d like more information, visit Up and Away, an educational program to remind families of the importance of safe medicine storage, for additional safety tips.
Join the conversation: Has your child ever accidentally ingested medicines? How to do keep these products out of reach?
Disclosure: I am being compensated for this blog post but my opinions are all my own.