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Emergency room doctors see all kinds of injuries on a day-to-day basis. So who better to ask about dangerous everyday items you should ban from your home or keep far away from your children?
We talked to five ER doctors from top U.S. hospitals and here are the things these accident front-liners avoid the most.
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1. Dishwasher and detergent pods
If ingested, many household chemicals can become life-threatening. They can cause irritation and burns when the skin is exposed to even small amounts.
“All chemicals should be locked up if there are children at home,” recommends Dr. Seth Podolsky, an ER physician at Cleveland Clinic.
“Either laundry pods or dishwasher pods, I do not keep them in my house. They are much more concentrated than traditional detergents, which contain large amounts of water and are much less toxic.” says Dr. Maryann Amirshahi, an ER physician at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington.
Pod exposures can result in skin and eye irritation, coughing, choking and even death. Traditional products rarely produce such strong reactions.
2. Button batteries
Button batteries are commonly used in LED balloon lights and can be extremely dangerous to young kids when they swallow them.
“The danger is that the batteries can get stuck in the esophagus and the battery acid eats through the wall of the esophagus, causing lifelong disability,” says Dr. Dara Kass from NYU Langone.
If the battery passes beyond the esophagus, the acid from the batteries can also destroy the intestines, which is a life-threatening surgical emergency.
Babies and young children who learn about their world by putting things in their mouth may also swallow shiny things such as coins and magnets.
“Coins can get stuck in the esophagus, so don’t have coins lying around,” says Dr. Kass. A single coin can also cause obstruction in the digestive tract, so keep the money in your pocket or wallet.
4. Leftover medications
There are many medications that are “one pill killers” in children, particularly heart and blood pressure pills and strong opioid painkillers. If you are not using a medication, dispose of it properly or store it up and out of reach, ER doctors say.
Even over-the-counter meds can be life-threatening for children, according to Dr. Podolsky.
“Tylenol, a very common drug, can be lethal when a large dose is taken and left untreated,” he says. Cold medications, Aspirin and even some allergy medications could be potentially dangerous if a large amount is taken at once, so keeping them out of the reach of children is essential.
5. Sparklers, fireworks, explosives
Fireworks and explosives have no place in the household because they can cause burns and eye injuries in kids and adults if not handled properly.
“People kick them over, then flames shoot in their mouth. Facial burns are the worst and you often have to treat patients (over) a lifetime,” says Dr. Mark Shapiro from Duke Health.
6. Hot microwave ramen noodles
Noodle soup is strangely perfect for delivering a serious burn.
Ramen noodles in Styrofoam containers get extremely hot when microwaved. When the sticky noodles cling to the skin, it leads to deeper, more severe burns, according to a study published in 2007. It showed hospital stays for upper body noodle-soup burns last more than twice as long as scalds from hot liquids alone.
Other hot liquids also pose a threat when kids are around, so be extra careful.