By Stephanie McGilvray
Right now, people across the Mobile area are gearing up to visit or receive friends and relatives for the holidays. While these gatherings are a perfect time to reconnect, they may also raise safety risks for children who are present.
In fact, during the holidays, accidental exposure to household cleaners and medication for children under 5 increases significantly, with up to three times as many calls to poison control centers compared to other times of the year.
During the holiday season, families travel to visit loved ones who may not usually have kids in the house. Or party hosts who only have older children at home might forget the precautions needed for their youngest guests. While we may all have the best of intentions, it’s easy to get distracted and neglect safety measures during such a busy time of year. That is why it’s important for everyone in Mobile to look around their homes and take steps to make them safe for children.
As a physician assistant and director of the University of South Alabama’s Physician Assistant Studies Program, I know how fast accidents can happen with curious children in the home. They can occur throughout the house, from the bathroom to the kitchen and even the laundry room. In a recent survey conducted by the American Cleaning Institute as part of its Packets Up! campaign, more than 67 percent of parents with children under age 4 said their laundry room is accessible to children. Although the laundry room is an essential part of household routines, it can often go overlooked when child-proofing the home. The Packets Up! campaign is focused on this issue of laundry safety, and emphasizes first and foremost that knowledge is the key to prevention.
Ahead of the holiday season, here are some simple safety tips to cross off your to-do list:
- Store all medicines, vitamins, batteries, cleaning products and liquid laundry packets up high, out of reach and out of sight.
From the garage to the laundry room, the best place to store medicines or liquid laundry packets is in an overhead cabinet secured with a child safety lock. If you don’t have a cabinet available, place the products (in their original packaging) into a larger bin with other laundry and household products and put it up high where those at risk won’t be able to see or access it.
- Immediately move laundry packets and cleaning products to their safe storage place upon arrival in your home.
When purchasing laundry packets and other household cleaners, have them bagged separately and then put them away — up high and out of sight and reach — as soon as you get home and unpack your groceries.
- Always keep cleaning products in their original containers with labels intact.
These containers are designed to be child-resistant and, in case of an emergency, have ingredients and poison control information clearly displayed on the label.
We all have loved ones we want to protect from harm, and they are the reason we are willing to go the extra mile to keep our homes tidy and safe. I put my packets up because I want to make sure all homes are safely prepared for the holiday season!
To keep your home merry and bright this holiday season, make sure you are prepared in the event of an unintended exposure. For more safe storage tips, visit packetsup.org. If you think someone has been accidentally exposed to laundry packets or other household products, call your local poison control center at 800-222-1222 and seek medical attention immediately.
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