Health & Wellness

Checklist: 'Tis the Season to be Wary, Vigilant and Cautious

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Another toy, another disc battery.

So far this year, the NJ Poison Control Center has sent over 30 children into hospital emergency rooms for swallowing a disc battery.

X-rays must be taken to be sure a disc battery is not stuck in the esophagus where it may go undetected and eventually kill a child.

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The holidays are an exciting time of year, but it gets hectic with cooking, entertaining, home decorating, gift buying and other activities. It's easy to become distracted and forget to pay attention to what’s happening, especially at home.

Here's a checklist:

Disc batteries – These are usually found in watches, toys, games, flashing costume jewelry, singing greeting cards and remote control devices. They are easy to swallow and can cause serious harm to children and pets. Besides being a choking hazard, these batteries can cause serious burns if stuck in the throat or stomach and may even cause death.

Toys – Antique toys and those made outside of the United States may contain lead or other toxic substances. Look for chipping or worn paint before letting children play with them. Many toys can be a potential choking hazard for young children and pets. Look for recalls before buying toys. Visit U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission https://www.cpsc.gov.

Small magnets – If a child consumes two or more magnets, they can attract each other, resulting in serious harm to internal organs. Get help immediately.

Alcohol (beer, wine, liquor, cocktails) – If accidentally swallowed by children and/or pets, leftover cocktails can be fatal! Alcohol affects children and pets differently than it does adults, so even ingesting a small amount can be very toxic. Always empty beverage glasses and place them up high and out of reach of curious children and pets.

E-cigarettes devices and liquid nicotine - Liquid nicotine exposures continue to concern poison center specialists. The liquid contains concentrated nicotine, which is harmful if swallowed. Even small amounts can be fatal to small children and pets. Keep these products and their refill liquids locked up, out of sight and reach.

Medicine - Be sure to offer a safe, locked, out of sight place for relatives and holiday visitors to store any medicines (over-the-counter, prescription, vitamins, herbal or dietary supplements) they may be carrying with them. Never leave medicines in purses, on nightstands or counters, or in the bathroom where children and pets can easily get them.

Lamp oils – Children become confused by these oils because they are colorful and smell sweet just like a beverage. If ingested, the oils can get into the lungs, cause pneumonia and even death. Many of the lamps containing these oils are not child-resistant. Lock up lamps and oils when not in use to keep them out of sight and reach of children and pets.

Pets – Make sure to keep chocolate, cocoa, candy and sugarless gum that contains Xylitol, yeast bread dough, leftover fatty meat scraps, fruitcakes with raisins and currants, alcohol and illicit drugs out of reach of your pets. Ingestion of any of these can cause serious harm and even death. Be sure to keep all wires tucked away.

Heating Fire salts – These create colorful flames when added to fires, but should be kept away from children as they can produce serious stomach problems if ingested.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) – Don’t be fooled, carbon monoxide can kill! This gas is dangerous, because it gives no warning - it is colorless; has no odor or taste. Have detectors on every level of ther home and near every sleeping area. If not vented properly or maintained regularly, heaters, fireplaces, heating systems, generators and gas appliances can contribute to rising carbon monoxide levels in the home. Symptoms of CO poisoning can easily be confused with symptoms of viral illnesses like the common cold and the flu.

“Even though the “to do” list seems to grow as the days count down, let’s not forget about the importance of making the holidays injury free, ” said Diane Calello, MD, NJ Poison Control Center Executive and Medical Director, Rutgers NJ Medical School’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

“I encourage you to take a few moments to think about how you can lower the risk of unintentional injuries in your home.” Safety is no accident, it’s a choice."

The best way to be prepared for questions, concerns or emergencies this holiday season is to keep Poison Control at your fingertips. Save the Poison Help number, 1-800- 222-1222, as a contact in mobile phones, and post it in a visible place in the home.

In the event of an exposure, get help immediately by calling the health professionals at the NJ Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If a person is unconscious, not breathing, hard to wake up, or seizing call 9-1-1. 

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