Wednesday, November 22, 2000

Harmless for the holidays

As we gather together for Thanksgiving, the thoughts of health-care advocates naturally turn to all the ways that the holidays could be dangerous. And amazingly, they’re not even thinking about the toxic combination of too many relatives in one room. That alone has probably done more lasting damage than all the salmonella in the world. But no--they’re worried about things like choking toddlers. The easy stuff. A recent report on the intellihealth Web site helpfully outlined several of the ways your little one could find trouble during holiday events, to which MWA would like to add our own helpful comments and suggestions:

* Hard candy and nuts. By all means, keep them off low tables. Thousands of small children choke to death each year, and the fact that your son can stuff an entire soft taco into his mouth at once does not mean he won’t choke on a peanut. Put the munchies on a high bookcase; it’s good exercise for the adults to have to stretch to get them.

* Visiting medications. Don’t let folks staying at your home keep their medications in their suitcases on the floor, where nosy little ones can find and partake. Forty-one percent of all poisonings involving children also involve pharmaceuticals. Find a safe place for all those pills. And if doing so allows you to completely check out the personal medication needs of all your visiting nearest and dearest, well, you’re not being nosy, you’re being pro-active.

* Silver cleaners and household products. Beware of toxic substances, and we’re not talkinga bout Aunt Mabel’s perfume! Almost 12 percent of poisonings involving children were caused by household products, so clearly you’re better off keeping that stuff out of your house and never cleaning at all. Dust, dirt and tarnish are certainly a small prices to pay. Alternatively, you could keep the stuff in a locked cabinet. Don’t forget to throw away the key.

*Cosmetics. Another 12 precent of child poisonings are made possible by makeup. Again, we’re not talking about the poisonous looks your preteen daughter gets when she comes downstairs in blue eyeshadow. No, we’re talking about her little brother eating the stuff. Right into the locked cabinet it goes!

* Electricity. More than 3,000 children under 10 are treated for electircal shock each year, and it’s all because their parents forgot to put those little plastic doohickies in the outlets. Or maybe because--and I know you’ll be as shocked by this as I--they keep their blow-dryers and curling irons in the bathroom, where they could fly across the room and fall into a tub. Surely any reasonable person would know that you’ve got to keep those things in the garage, or in a shed out back, or possibly a locked cabinet.

*Raw eggs. Poor little kiddies, they’re so susceptible to salmonella. No cookie dough for them! Mama will have to thoughtfully eat it all to protect their delicate digestions. What we won’t do for our children!

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