The Woodward News

December 15, 2013

Officials offer tips on making holiday safer for kids

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — With the Christmas Season in full swing, it’s easy to get focused on all there is to do and forget little details that could mean the difference between having a wonderful season and a tragic accident.

That is the message from Oklahoma Poison Control Center education coordinator Whitney Kemp

Nearly half of the 48,000 calls made per year to Oklahoma Poison Control Center are made on behalf of children under the age of five, she said.

This time of year can provide the conditions for the “perfect storm.” Busy, distracted parents and grandparents could unknowingly create a situation where children could possibly have access to someone’s medication, when normally their parents are careful about such things.

“Visitors might leave medications out or in a suitcase, overnight bag or purse,” Kemp said. “Kids like to get into these things.”

Woodward County health educator Jolena Graves echoes that concern and adds her voice to the encouragement for folks to slow down, even when you feel overwhelmed.

“I have been waking up in the night going over all that I have to get done before Christmas,” she said. “So it can be a stressful time.”

Graves noted that when grandparents, who have long since raised their children and are not used to having grandchildren around, come to visit, they are not thinking about little ones who might get into a tempting suitcase left open.

For that reason, Graves suggests offering guests a safe place to put up their medications.

“You may not even have grandkids, but you may be visiting places that do have children,” she said.

The key is to stop and take one moment to think about your medications when you arrive somewhere, she said.

According to the Oklahoma Poison Control Center, more than 67,000 children visit this nation’s emergency rooms every year for medication poisoning.

But Graves adds that during the holidays, a lot is happening  and things such as cleaning items are sometimes left where children can get at them.

Kemp agrees.

For children, a container with say, window cleaner can look as appetizing as some sports drinks, Kemp said.

For that reason, the Oklahoma Poison Control website offers these ideas to insure that the holidays are a time of celebration not tragedy.

• Keep potentially dangerous household products in one area of the home.

• Make sure the household products are stored in their original containers.

• Medications should be kept in their original packaging or containers.

• Label dangerous household products with some kind of sticker indicating it’s “yuck,” and teach your children what the sticker means.

• Keep cabinets and areas with the dangerous products locked.

• Make sure medications are stored up and away.

• Remind friends and family to follow these guidelines to keep kids safe.

Kemp said if a parent suspects their child might have come in contact with a potential poison to call Oklahoma Poison Control right away at (800) 222-1222. A pharmacist or nurse will take your call.  

Just before your guests arrive, simply do a walk-through of the home and take a few seconds to make sure all the possibly poisonous substances are back where they belong, out of reach and secure, Graves said.