Some household dangers to children are just no-brainers. We’ve been hearing about a lot them our whole lives, after all: watch out for the bleach and cleaners under the sink, keep the kids and dogs away from antifreeze because it tastes sweet, and to put those little plastic caps over electrical outlets so curious kids can’t stick forks and knives in them. Parents and guardians of toddlers and young children go out of their way to child-proof homes, erecting baby gates in front of staircases and installing latches on the medicine cabinets.
We all want to protect children as thoroughly as possible. That means that it’s important to consider the hidden dangers lurking in most homes that we might otherwise overlook. Accidents from hazards that seem harmless make up a huge percentage of the deaths and injuries of children every year. By being aware of the dangers, you can eliminate them, so you can keep your kid as safe as possible.
Stash Your Vitamins
The medicine cabinet is a major culprit in childhood injuries like poisoning and even death. It can be difficult to get kids to take medicine when we want them to, but when unsupervised, those same medications can look as appetizing as candy to curious children. Of course, locking up the medicine cabinet is an old rule that’s probably familiar to even new parents. But even over-the-counter vitamins and supplements can be dangerous. Things like vitamins, supplements, and Tylenol might seem more harmless than prescription medications, but overdoses of these kinds are unfortunately one of the most common causes of poisoning in children. Paracetamol can be highly toxic for kids, especially the kind formulated for infants because it’s extra concentrated. So don’t just lock up the prescription medications—make sure your vitamins and supplements are safely stored away behind a child lock or high up in a cabinet where kids can’t reach.
Tumbling Televisions and Crashing Cabinets
While you’re stashing your medication away in those high places, make sure that the high places aren’t themselves hazards. Dozens of children are killed every year by television sets and tipped-over furniture, and many more need to be treated in hospitals and emergency rooms. Objects might seem more stable when they’re quite heavy, but this is a dangerous illusion. Unsupervised children who may have only just started walking can clamber up to the tops of dresser drawers and cabinets are at risk of being crushed if the furniture tips over. Kids might not be that heavy themselves, but sometimes it takes is just a little bit of weight to make a shelf top-heavy and tumble. And once they’re underneath the TV or the bookshelf, they can become trapped and injure themselves further trying to escape.
As televisions get bigger, and it becomes common to have a television screen in multiple rooms of the home, these accidents are on the rise. And a bigger TV is, of course, more dangerous than a small one. Make sure that your TV is firmly secured to the shelf where it sits, and that the shelf itself is secured to the wall with an anchor or a strap. If you can’t drill into your walls we recommend using a baby barrier.
A Drop In A Bucket
We all know to keep unsupervised kids away from swimming pools and large bodies of water. You might have even heard it said that it’s possible to drown in as little as a half of inch of water. What sounds like an old wives’ tale is actually true: even small amounts of standing water are dangerous to children. If the container is big enough for a child’s head to fit in, it’s a drowning hazard with water in it. Things like common pails and mop buckets become hazardous with children around because curious kids might poke their heads inside, fall in, and be unable to get out. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes for a person to lose consciousness when drowning, and five minutes is enough to cause serious brain damage or death. This might seem like an exaggeration, but kids really are killed every year by water left out in buckets and pails, and cases have even been reported of kids drowning in toilets that aren’t secured with child locks. Don’t take any risks leaving buckets of water out around kids, because all it takes is one unlucky accident for drowning to occur.
Batteries Are A Double Danger
Batteries are doubly dangerous because they are a choking hazard as well as a potential poison. The small button batteries that you find in watches, alarm clocks, and other common household items are incredibly dangerous for children. Not only are they small enough for a child to pop in their mouth and choke, if ingested, they can actually be digested by stomach acid, releasing the toxic metals inside. If this happens, you might not know until it’s too late and the child is already experiencing symptoms of poisoning.
Cell Phone Radiation
In an era where our smartphones have become indispensable and nearly universal, it can be inconvenient to acknowledge that they are a real health risk. Research is still emerging about the dangers of microwave radiation from cell phones, but new studies suggest that children are at a much higher risk of sickness and damage from cell phone radiation than adults are. We already know that kids absorb more microwave radiation than adults to with one study reporting that the bone marrow of children absorbs as much as 10 times more radiation than the bones of adults. It will be another few decades before we can conclusively link cell phone exposure to children to brain cancer because it can take that long for tumors to form after carcinogen exposure.
Many adults have to use their phones constantly to make a living or stay in touch with family, but kids don’t have this need yet – so cut down on exposure while you still can and keep cell phones away from kids’ developing brains. And don’t be afraid of the number of hidden dangers to kids – just be aware, and make safer choices whenever you can.