If emergency room walls could talk, they’d have grisly stories to tell. ER doctors and nurses are exposed to unimaginable illnesses and injuries, sometimes caused by common household products. These items are generally safe when used as directed. But if they end up in a child’s hand, or if they are misused by adults, everyday items can pose a grave risk.
ER staff know which household items are the most hazardous; that's why we should listen when they give advice on safety. These are the 10 items many doctors ban from their own homes.
11 Button Batteries
If you own a watch, you probably have one of these batteries in your home. Calculators, singing greeting cards, and car remotes also use this single cell battery. It is small and circular like a button on a shirt, hence the name. Button batteries are common household items, yet many people are not aware that they kill dozens of children in the United States every year.
Small children tend to be attracted to shiny, metal objects, which is why thousands of coins are swallowed by kids each year. A swallowed quarter is dangerous because it can get stuck in a child’s trachea. When it’s dislodged, it will often pass through the body, and it will simply be eliminated in the fecal matter. A button battery, however, can be lethal because it contains battery acid. If the acid leaks through the metal casing, it can burn a hole through the lungs and the esophagus, potentially causing lifelong disabilities or even death.
Toddlers are most at risk for swallowing these items. Make sure these batteries are stored high and out of reach so curious, little fingers can’t find them.
10 Drop-Side Cribs
Drop-side cribs were designed to give parents better access to their children when one side of the crib was lowered. But, this design was deemed dangerous after safety issues were discovered. Some babies became caught on the movable side, resulting in suffocations and strangulations.
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) placed a ban on traditional drop-side cribs in 2011. Before the ban, these types of cribs were responsible for at least 32 fatalities, and hundreds of emergency room injuries.
Today, not all drop-side cribs are banned. New crib standards set by the CPSC require the mattress, crib slats, and hardware to be more durable. To see if your crib complies with current standards, check the CPSC’s recall list. Also, ensure that all hardware is tightly secured, and there are no loose or broken parts. And, if your crib is older than 10 years, don’t use it.
They are a fun backyard toy, but some doctors feel they are not worth the risk to have at home. From 2002 to 2011, over one million people in the U.S. visited the emergency room because of trampoline injuries. This included spinal injuries, bone fractures, and more.
Doctors say trampoline nets give parents a false sense of security. In reality, the nets and the pads do not offer much protection. Because of the number of trampoline-related injuries, the American Academy of Pediatrics advise parents to boycott these items from their homes.
8 High-powered Magnets
These are not your ordinary refrigerator magnets. These high-powered magnets are super strong, used in games like Buckyballs and Magnicubes. If two or more magnets are swallowed, they can cause serious internal damage. The powerful magnets can draw together inside the body, ripping holes in a child’s intestine or stomach. Doctors see a serious health risk with modern magnets, and their fears are backed up by statistics. Between 2002 and 2011, emergency room cases have increased five-fold.
Due to the potential health risks of high-powered magnets, physicians advise parents to keep these items away from their children.
7 Tube Televisions
Children under the age of four are at risk around tube television sets. These old relics are big and front-heavy. Since many people set their TV on a stand for better viewing, the set becomes a dangerous weight if it is tipped. Children have died and sustained critical injuries from tipped televisions.
Many people have switched to flat screen TVs which can be secured to a wall, but old sets remain a major hazard. If you have a tube television, make sure it’s anchored securely.
If you have children under the age of four, beads are too dangerous to have around your house. If a bead becomes stuck in the windpipe, a small child can pass out. Also, small items such as marbles, and broken balloon pieces can be lethal if caught in a child’s throat. Doctors also see small items end up in the nose and the ears, resulting in breathing difficulties and ear infections.
To test if an item is too small to have around your child, do the toilet roll test: try to push the item through a toilet roll. If it slides through, it’s small enough to be a choking hazard.
5 Old Medication
One item doctors urge people not to keep in the house is expired pain medication. When you have children in the household, old pills can pose a serious danger. In fact, ingesting leftover medication is the main cause of injury for kids aged five and under.
Narcotic painkillers, such as Vicodin, Percocet, and Oxycontin, are extended-release tablets that deliver medication slow and steady into the bloodstream. Just one of these tablets has enough medication to kill a child. Doctors realize people tend to hang on to these painkillers because it’s hard to get prescriptions for them. But, this mistake can cause overdose and death.
Always keep prescription medicine in the original bottle secured with the child resistant cap. Also, make sure medications are high enough so children won’t have contact with them. Remind your child’s grandparents to do the same in their homes.
3 Baby Walkers
In Canada, the sale and importation of baby walkers are illegal. In 2004, Health Canada ruled these rolling devices posed a safety risk for kids. This decision came after data from 16 hospitals reported over 1,900 children had baby walker-related injuries between 1990 and 2002.
Although baby walkers are not banned in the United States, doctors warn against them. Not only do they delay motor and mental development, baby walkers have tumbled down flights of stairs, flipped over, and collided with heaters and hot stoves.
If you have a baby walker, destroy and discard it immediately.
2 Swimming Pools
Swimming is a fun activity and beneficial for cardiovascular exercise. Yet every summer, doctors see young children accidentally slip on slick surfaces around the pool. These falls can cause broken bones. Even worse is the number of the children who fall into their own swimming pools and drown. For children aged 1-4, drowning is the second leading cause of death. These reports are staggering, especially when you consider that some kids who have drowned knew how to swim.
Some people think when a person is drowning, they will scream, kick, and call for help in an obvious way. The truth is, you probably wouldn’t hear anything because drowning is a silent killer. A drowning person just submerges, and it happens in a split second. Because of how fast drowning occurs, there are some doctors who will never buy a house with a pool.
If you have a swimming pool at home, make sure younger children always wear life jackets.
1 Pull Up High Chairs
Falls are the number one cause for emergency room visits, and high chairs are one of the prime culprits for kids. When children fall, they often suffer from head injuries because their bodies are top-heavy, so their heads tend to hit the ground first.
Thousands of children visit the emergency room annually because of high chairs that pull up to the table. If children place their feet on the table and push, these high chairs can easily tip back. A fall from a height of a mere three feet can cause brain injuries, concussions, and skull fractures.
If you have a pull up high chair, do not place the chair too close to the table. Also, check recall lists to ensure your high chair meets safety standards.