Holidays Can Be A Dangerous Time For Small Children

16 Dec Holidays Can Be A Dangerous Time For Small Children

By Dr. Ruben Rucoba

When I was working in the Pediatric ICU as a resident many years ago, I remember one unfortunate boy who arrived late one night around the holidays. Rudy (not his real name) was a cute 4-year-old who was brought to the hospital because he was, in a word, drunk. His parents had a holiday party, and the adults left their glasses with alcoholic beverages on coffee tables and other places within easy reach of an inquisitive pre-schooler. Since many of those drinks smelled sweet and had the coloring of Kool-Aid, Rudy went about the rooms tasting from many of these drinks.

He arrived in the ICU unresponsive, in a drunken stupor, with alcohol poisoning. He needed dialysis to lower his blood alcohol to a safe level and, fortunately, survived the event none the worse, but with what I assume was a world-class hangover.

This holiday, make sure you follow these tips to keep your children safe:

  • Be careful when visiting other people’s homes: Don’t assume others are as good as you are about child-proofing their homes. Be especially mindful of stairs, fireplaces, candles and other open flames, hot foods and liquids, alcohol, tobacco, and where medications are stored.
  • When visitors come into your home, be aware of products they may bring that could be dangerous. One common problem is medication brought in by grandparents, especially since these may not have childproof caps on them.
  • Keep all candles and open flames at least 12 inches from anything that can burn (drapes, wrapping paper, etc.), and be sure to blow them out when leaving the room or going to bed at night.
  • If you have a live Christmas tree, make sure it is watered frequently and doesn’t get too dried out, when it can become a fire hazard. And if you have an artificial tree, make sure it is fire-resistant.
  • Keep all hot foods and liquids away from small children. Use the back burners when cooking, and keep handles of pots and pans turned inward.
  • Be very careful with small items that can be choking hazards, especially button batteries, as these can cause severe damage to children if swallowed.
  • Try not to use breakable ornaments, and place fragile items far out of reach of little hands. Use metal hooks for ornaments at the top of the tree, and use child-safe ornaments on the bottom of the tree.
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