If you check throughout your home, you will be shocked to find an array of potentially poisonous products, such as medicines, household chemicals, and plants. And in the hands of a small child or pet, these products can be deadly. Fortunately, accidental poisoning is a preventable injury. But it’s up to parents, grandparents and caregivers to be educated about what types of substances can be harmful to children and pets.
Here are some potentially poisonous products in the home, which some people may overlook:
1. Button Batteries. When swallowed, these small batteries get stuck in the esophagus (throat). The saliva triggers an electric current which causes a chemical reaction that can severely burn the esophagus in as little as two hours. Lithium batteries can be found in everything in your home. They are used to power remote controls, toys, musical greeting cards, flameless candles, calculators, watches and other electronics.
2. Alcohol: It can lead to seizures, coma and even death in a young child. (Examples of household products that can contain alcohol: mouthwash, perfumes, colognes, and aftershave, vanilla extract, cough and cold medications and hand sanitizers.)
3. Baby oil: When you swallow baby oil and other hydrocarbons, they can easily go down the wrong way and get into your lungs. Only a small amount can cause pneumonia within a few hours.
4. Antifreeze: Children or pets could drink large amounts of this sweet-tasting liquid if it is left out in an open container or if spilled on your driveway. The main ingredient in many major antifreeze brands is ethylene glycol, which is extremely toxic. Consider using antifreeze with propylene glycol, which is considerably less toxic, or use antifreeze that has a bittering agent (denatonium benzoate) added to make it taste unpleasant.
5. Windshield washer fluid is extremely toxic. It can cause blindness soon after ingestion.
6. Dieffenbachia and Philodendron: These common houseplants contain oxalates, microscopic crystals that get released into the mouth when the plant is chewed, causing extreme pain and inflammation.
A popular Flower Garden plant is the beautiful oleander. Everything about this plant is toxic, including the water in which cut flowers are placed and any smoke that results from burning the plant. In fact, a single leaf or berry can kill
(Important Note to cat owners: All parts of the Easter lily plant are considered toxic to cats and consuming even small amounts can cause severe poisoning.)
It’s important to identify all the different plants both in and around your home. Obtain a list of the common poisonous plants that grow in your area from the poison center or your local cooperative extension agent. You can also take the plant or a cutting to a reputable and experienced nursery, florist, or plant store for identification. Parents should only purchase nontoxic plants when they have children under the age of six and pets.
7. Tobacco Products: Ingestion can result in vomiting, sweating and seizures. Dissolvable tobacco products can resemble candy– which poses a serious health threat for children.
8. Table salt: As little as half a teaspoon to an infant or a tablespoon to a toddler can cause damage to his central nervous system.
9. Metal Jewelry: Not only do they pose a choking hazard, lead and cadmium has been found in inexpensive children’s jewelry. In addition, some costume jewelry designed for adults have also been found to contain lead and cadmium.
10. Recalled products: These are products that have been found to be unsafe, hazardous or defective. Keep up-to-date by visiting http://www.Recalls.gov
Lastly, pet owners beware! Sugarless chewing gum and products containing xylitol can be poisonous to pets. Also, other food items that can be toxic to pets include chocolate and caffeine products (coffee, tea), onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, avocado, and macadamia nuts.
Whenever you suspect a poisoning, immediately call the National Poison Hotline (available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week), 1-800 222-1222, which automatically connects you to your local poison center. Make sure to prominently post this number on your refrigerator and near every phone in the home, and put this number in your cell phone too. ALWAYS CALL THE POISON CENTER FIRST, BEFORE TREATING A POISONING.
Debra Holtzman, J.D., M.A., “The Safety Expert”, is an internationally acclaimed child safety and health expert, baby planner, an award-winning parenting author and mom. She has a law degree, an M.A. in occupational health and safety (OSHA), a B.A. in communications and over fifteen years experience in the child safety and health field. She has made hundreds of media appearances including ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, NBC’s The Today Show and Dateline. She served as the official on-camera safety expert for the popular weekly Discovery Health series, Make Room for Baby. Debra was named an “Everyday Hero” by Readers Digest and a “Woman Making a Difference” by Family Circle Magazine. She teaches infant and toddler safety, CPR, and sibling classes at a regional hospital, and is a certified child passenger safety technician. Debra’s best-selling book, “The Safe Baby: A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Home Safety and Healthy Living” (Sentient Publications) offers parents easy-to-implement solutions and cost saving tips to keep children and pets safe and healthy. Visit Debra online at http://thesafetyexpert.com