Becoming a parent and discovering the seemingly endless pitfalls and dangers that await children can be overwhelming. As if plastic bags and high windows weren't enough, children have a way of showing parents new and inventive ways to get injured accidentally. Not every risk is equally obvious, which can lead to unexpected injuries that most parents fail to consider until it's too late.
1. Hand-Me-Down Baby Gear
While money is always a concern for any new parent, having used baby gear can come with unexpected risks. While it might seem nice to get a stroller, crib or high chair that's been broken in, such items may be missing parts, have broken components or otherwise fail to meet current safety standards. Jamie Schaefer-Wilson, author of The Baby Rules: The Insider's Guide to Raising Your Parents, saw her daughter nearly become injured when her head and neck became caught in a highchair without safety straps.
To prevent similar accidents, conduct a thorough inspection of any used baby gear. All cords, strings and straps should be shorter than seven inches. To ensure your items meet current safety requirements, head to the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website.
2. Hand Sanitizer
Every parent knows the difficulty of ensuring a child's hands are clean at any given moment. However, beware of the hand sanitizer in your purse. With the increased presence of ethanol-based products, there has been recent growth in juvenile alcohol poisonings. Scented like strawberry, vanilla and lemonade, and decorated with sparkles and glitter, hand sanitizer can be tempting to young children, however, they contain anywhere from 40 percent to 95 percent alcohol. WebMD notes that between 2010 and 2013, incidents involving children under age 12 consuming hand sanitizer and falling ill rose by 400 percent.
Parents should make sure to keep all hand sanitizer out of reach and supervise usage. Children should also be informed that consuming hand sanitizer is just as dangerous as any other type of underage alcohol consumption. When sending any sanitizer with children to school, make sure the brand does not contain alcohol or purchase hand wipes instead.
3. Dangerous Houseplants
Whether practical or decorative, a large number of households keep plants indoors for food, air filtration and much more. However, each year there are thousands of emergency room visits brought about from children six and under ingesting houseplants. Poisoning can occur in many different ways, including drinking water from a plant tray, eating berries, leaves and roots or even making skin contact with juices or sap.
For any plants brought into the home, parents should know the common and scientific names in case of any accidental poisoning. Knowing this information can help the poison control center to give you proper guidance. Indoor plants should be kept out of reach and children playing outside should be watched carefully. If your children are old enough, make them aware of what is and is not safe. Most importantly, children should be taught to never eat a plant or drink water from the plant tray.
4. Riding Playground Slides With Children
While riding a slide with a child is heartwarming and makes for a great photo op, there is a risk for serious injury. In the event that a child's foot is caught or stuck, the weight of the adult behind them can fracture and break bones. An 11-month study at Winthrop University Hospital found that 14 percent of pediatric leg fractures were caused by toddlers riding slides with their parents.
According to doctor's advice, parents should allow children to ride slides by themselves if they are old enough. Additionally, parents can consider choosing a less dangerous playground activity. If a parent does decide to slide with a small child in her lap, she should remove the child's shoes and ensure the child's feet don't touch the slide.
5. Latex Balloons
Balloons are ubiquitous with children's birthday parties and other celebrations, but the choice of latex can lead to tragedy. St. Louis Children's Hospital notes more than 110 children have choked to death from chewing or blowing up latex balloons since 1973. Because of the balloon's ability to contour to a child's throat and completely restrict breathing, latex balloons present a unique risk.
Concerned parents should make sure any balloons are made of mylar and not latex. Children should be supervised when playing with balloons to avoid chewing or biting and any popped balloons should be cut up and thrown away. Only children above age eight should be allowed to blow up balloons and parents should watch to make sure none are accidentally inhaled.
6. Laundry Detergent Pods
Due to their bright colors and squishy texture, it is not surprising that young children eat detergent pods after mistaking them for candy. The Natural Society published a study noting between 2012 and 2013, there were more than 17,000 children poisoned by pods. A 2017 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology also revealed that detergent pods were responsible for 25 percent of chemical eye injuries for children between the ages of three and four.
To avoid such injuries, parents should make sure children can't reach detergent pods. Place any detergent high up, out of sight or behind a locked door. Always make sure children are aware that pods are dangerous and should not be played with or consumed.
7. Purses and Handbags
The use of a purse or handbag is essential for taking care of a child and keeping vital supplies nearby, like tissues and inhalers. Unfortunately, a child's uncontrolled access to a purse is a huge risk. Handbags often contain a variety of dangerous items such as over-the-counter and prescription medication, makeup, lighters, insect repellent and much more. Depending on the contents of the bag, children could be at risk for choking, skin irritation, nose bleeds, throat and stomach issues, seizures and even death. Finally, purses can collect germs from a wide variety of places, including tables, benches and floors, leading to many potential infections.
To ensure your purse doesn't become a safety pitfall, keep it out of reach of children, especially when friends or family are visiting. Parents should also avoid carrying any potentially dangerous item unless absolutely necessary. The bottom of any bag should also be cleaned and disinfected at least once a month and you should avoid placing the bag on the floor or any surface where food is eaten or prepared.
8. Hair-Thread Tourniquet Syndrome
When playing counting games with their infant's fingers and toes, parents may be unwittingly placing their child at risk. If a human hair or thread becomes tightly wrapped around a digit, it can lead to pain and swelling with damage to blood vessels, tissue, or bone, or a child can even lose a digit. Medscape notes that in 210 cases of hair-thread tourniquet syndrome, about 44.2 percent of injuries involved the penis, 40.4 percent were toes, 8.6 percent were fingers and 6.8 percent were other parts of the body. Indications that a child is suffering from Hair-Thread Tourniquet Syndrome is being inconsolable from pain and a purple finger, toe or other extremity.
To help prevent this, parents should always inspect their infant's hands and feet during bath time and not keep mittens and socks on for extended periods. Parents should also separate laundry in isolated loads and turn infant clothing inside out before washing. Caregivers should also manage any hair loss by brushing or combing frequently and keeping their hair up to collect and dispose of stray hairs before any issue arises.
Being Sensible and Keeping Safe
No parent ever wants their child to be injured, least of all because of something they failed to take into account. Fortunately, most accidents can be avoided with proper planning and awareness of risks. By ensuring that parents are informed about potential dangers, they can do everything in their power to keep their children safe and happy.