Spring has sprung, although it seems as though the weather, upon getting that memo, promptly dismissed it in preference of more rain, thunder, and 63 degree days. Hopefully, not for much longer.
As the days warm back up here in Southern California, it’s the perfect time to refresh ourselves on some of the biggest dangers lurking in our homes. Today we have four mini-topics to discuss — tidbits of safety you can use to keep both yourself and your family safe. Let’s go!
Poison Control Starts First With You
Cleaning solutions come in brightly colored bottles and look a lot like juice; eye creams and moisturizers are frequently taken as frosting; and your daily cholesterol medication practically screams “I’M CANDY!” to grabby toddler hands. Before you dive headfirst into spring cleaning, you first need a plan on how to organize and secure some of your home’s most present dangers: toxic substances.
In 2017, nearly half of the more than 2 million calls placed to the Poison Control Center hotline (phone: 1-800-222-1222) involved children aged 6 and below, with incidences peaking among one and two year olds. Cosmetics and personal care products ranked highest in pediatric exposures, with 125,838; followed by cleaning supplies, at 109,563; and finally analgesics (painkillers) rounded out the top three with 91,741.
Often times, especially with medications, children just don’t know better and ingest something they shouldn’t, and teens may share prescriptions amongst themselves without knowing the risks. Equally concerning, though, are the number of times parents have made dosing mistakes that led to an unintentional overdose and trip to the ER.
These instances ARE preventable. Always make sure prescriptions are locked away from a child’s reach and have their safety caps secured. Read all the directions for a medication before you give your little one a dose, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to a medical professional. For an OTC drug, don’t throw out the box it came in. Set the box aside, because often it has more information than the bottle might. Finally, talk to your kids about drugs. More and more teens and preteens are self-medicating, meaning the opioid crisis that is ravaging America could be closer to home than you think.
Beware the Bite of the Lawnmower (And It’s Friends)
Little fingers and toes don’t mix well with power tools or fast-spinning blades. It might be a bummer to keep the kiddos in the house on a sunny day, but outside is the last place they should be when your yard is getting a haircut. Even bagged lawn mowers have a tendency to violently eject anything that isn’t grass, meaning rocks, twigs, and mulch are all projectiles lying in wait. Clearing your yard of these beforehand can spare you a broken window or an unwelcome pebble to the forehead.
Yearly estimates of injuries associated with lawn and garden tools that are severe enough to require an emergency visit range from 80,000 to 300,000. Always make sure your gardening equipment is in good working order before pulling it out of the shed. Of all things gardening related, injuries are one thing we don’t want to see grow.
It Takes More Than Just Using Your Noodle to Prevent Drownings
Swimming is a fun activity for both kids and adults, with the added benefit of being an excellent form of exercise. But it’s also dangerous, especially for those who are inexperienced. If you have a pool at home, securing it behind a four foot fence (at least) and a self-locking gate is paramount, and all children should be enrolled in age appropriate swim lessons as soon as possible. If your pool is not in use, it should remain covered, and children should not be allowed to play unsupervised near it.
Keep in mind, still, that drownings can occur right before your eyes without you knowing it. So quiet is drowning that lifeguards regularly leap into crowded pools to rescue someone no one else realized was in trouble. In fact, the idea that someone will call out for help is a myth, with much of our expectations based on what we’ve seen in movies: 50% of child drownings occur within 25 yards of a parent, and 10% occur while the parent is watching. Because parents don’t see their kid thrashing around, like they’d expect, they continue to assume everything is fine.
In reality, drowning doesn’t look like drowning. For all intents and purposes, it looks like nothing. It’s someone’s head bobbing above and below the surface, without enough time to breathe and call for help. Their head may be tilted back, their eyes closed, and their hair over their forehead. The latter of those three is a telltale sign. Someone who is okay will brush their hair off their face so they can see.
In the ocean, if someone is in a rip current it might look like them swimming, but not making any headway. In a pool, they will most likely be vertical and not using their legs at all — their arms extended outward, pressing down on top of the water. Or they might be “climbing an invisible ladder.” All of this can happen without a sound ever escaping their mouths.
If you own a pool or spend any time near the water, knowing what drowning actually looks like could make a life or death difference to someone you love.
Beware the Bite of Dogs as Well
More daylight hours and warmer weather mean more yard time and park visits, and more interactions with dogs (the best kind of interactions). Even if you don’t have a pup of your own, it’s still important to understand how to properly approach and interact with man’s best friend. Dog bites affect hundreds of Californians each year, and the majority are easily preventable.
When greeting a dog, never lean over him or her. Rather, allow her to come to you, and from a squatting or standing position, present your side (not front) and let them sniff your hand. Even if the dog seems to like and be comfortable around you, resist the urge to behave with over-familiarity. Don’t put your face anywhere near his, and never, ever hug him, no matter how friendly or cuddly he might seem.
In fact, it’s recommended that even owners not hug their dogs, because studies show they become visibly uncomfortable and stressed. A stressed dog is an unpredictable dog, which puts you at the risk of being bitten.
Spring, Into Action
Taking action doesn’t have to occur only when an emergency strikes. Action should also come in the form of preparedness. Taking extra precautions to learn about safety topics, or what drowning might look like, or how do read a dog’s body language, it’s itself an action: prevention. That’s why we love doing posts like this so much, because we know just how important it is to get this information out there.
Stay safe, and we hope you have a warm and wonderful spring!
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“Medication Safety Tips.” Safe Kids Worldwide. Retrieved 21 Mar 2019. https://www.safekids.org/tip/medication-safety-tips
“9 Essential Lawn Mower Safety Rules to Know Before You Mow.” University of Michigan Health. Retrieved 21 Mar 2019. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/9-essential-lawn-mower-safety-rules-to-know-before-you-mow
“Pool Safety Tips: Simple Steps Save Lives.” U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Retrieved 21 Mar 2019. https://www.poolsafely.gov/parents/safety-tips/
“Dog Bite Prevention.” ASPCA. Retrieved 21 March 2019. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-bite-prevention
“Spring Forward With Safety.” National Security Council. Retrieved 21 March 2019. https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/spring