A very Special Thank you to No Non-cents Nanna’s Malika Bourne for this Guest Post!

THE TWELVE POSIONS OF CHRISTMAS

My first guest for Christmas brought me one Christmas tree.

My second guest for Christmas brought two poinsettia plants for me.

My third guest for Christmas brought for me three boxes of xylitol. (artificial sweetener)

My fourth guest for Christmas brought to me four lanterns with lamp oil and the poison villain is lurking behind the Christmas tree.

My fifth guest for Christmas brought to me five packs of cigarettes.,

My sixth guest for Christmas brought to me six cases of beer.

My seventh guest for Christmas brought to me seven bottles of vitamins with iron and the poison villain lurked  behind the Christmas tree.

My eighth guest for Christmas brought a cold to share and eight kinds of cough syrup.

My ninth guest for Christmas brought  a bag with eight kinds of makeup.

My tenth guest for Christmas brought to visit me ten running children each with their own tube of tooth paste.

My eleventh guest for Christmas brought to me craft kits for everyone one with twelve containers of glue.

My twelfth guest for Christmas brought all of his twelve medications and the poison villain lurked  behind the Christmas tree.

The lyrics to my ‘Poison” version of the old favorite carol has no rhyme nor does it have any kind of rhythm. I hope it did accomplish drawing your attention to the fact the there is a lot of distracting hustle and bustle during the holidays. Unintentional poisonings occur without rhyme or rhythm, much like the laxities of my poetry skill . Routines are disrupted. People come and go bringing into your home an overabundance of items that could potentially poison your child if someone is not very careful.  While the words to my song only has a hint of a favorite seasonal song, without a doubt the poison villain can easily be hidden behind something with attractive decorations.

Christmas is only a few weeks away. People are busy decking their halls with all sorts of stuff that is bright and shiny or looks like candy and juice. Parents, brother, sisters, babysitters are all distracted with the festivities that too many tragedies or near tragedies occur.

Statistics reveal that holiday home mishaps send 12,oo0 people to the emergency room annually with all kinds of injuries. Between Thanksgiving and New Years, calls to the Poison Control Center increases nearly three times over the rest of the year.

Annually, with incidents rising, there have been  2.4 million exposures to poisonous substances. 80% of these involve  children less than four years old. How could this be happening to so many small children?The answer lies within the developmental characteristics of that age group. As older and wiser caretakers we do have the responsiblity to recognize the inability of a child to perform other than his/her developmental age dictates.

The most common time of day, any time of the year, when accidental poisonings occur is during the” arsenic hour”. Typically this is around five and six in the evening when dinner is being prepared. Everyone is tired and hungry. The phone is ringing. The potatoes are bowling over on the stove. Instead of carefully supervising the little on, the adults get distracted. You got the picture. Mom used Mr Clean or Windex to clean up a mess. To a child this could look like what? A bottle of Mountain Dew?  Many there is some blueberry juice in that colorful jar.

1. The child can not read a WARNING label.

2. They are fascinated by colorful labels with products that look and smell good enough to eat.

3.  They are naturally inquisitive and use all of their senses to explore an interesting object. Something that looks good, familiar, will automatically go right into the mouth to taste.

a. Toddlers and pre-school children can mistake chemical products for candy or juice. (Never call medication “candy”.)  Decongestants may appear                 to be a ‘red hot’. A potassium pill looks like and M&M. My purple Advair dickus  looks similar to a pink Bubblelious Gum dispenser.

b.  A crawling baby is directly on the floor where  many dropped items go unnoticed to the one who cleaned the floor. Anything could be down there;  pennies, pins and needles, medication, mold or ant poison. Small batteries  are shiny, easy to swallow and burn on the way down. Unless the dog found it first and no one know why Fido is sick.

Any thing that is in too big a quantity can be potentially poisonous. It could be swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

Items like chemical cleaners are a no brainer. But what about the junk stuffed in my purse?  What is lying around on the bathroom counter or kitchen table?

Here is a partial list of items most of us would never think of to not be careless with.

Cosmetics, personal hygiene like deodorant, Vix, topical creams, gels, ointments, prescription medications, over the counter medications, vitamins(especially those really good tasting colored vitamins). Cold and cough medication, antihistamines for allergies and colds AND this one may come a surprise-TOOTHPASTE (One can overdose on the fluoride. I am know mothers who have given their children each a tube of tooth paste to carry around to snack on. They did get sick.)

Don’t forget the makeup in the purse, the shaving cream the kids used to paint with in pre-school is toxic. Glue is nothing to play with. By the way super glue and eye drops containers look very much a like. Don’t forget about the pretty colored nail polish remover or the alcohol which grandma swears you must use to get a fever down. DO NOT EVER  do an alcohol bath.

I will never forget a tiny little boy I cared for in Pediatrics. He had been born two weeks before as a perfectly healthy newborn with developmentally appropriate large motor movements and a loud cry. The  January day I was assigned to him, he had been diagnosed with paralysis from botulism poisoning.

Apparently all the relatives had gathered to see the baby at a family Christmas party. The mother was exhausted because her little boy was non-stop crying. One of the aunties volunteered to give her break. After all, she was the expert babysitter in the family. The great-aunt used an old-fashioned remedy to quiet a wailing child; honey on a pacifier. That seemed so’ natural’. Please DO NOT EVER GIVE A BABY HONEY. It has botulism in it. As adult we can shrug of a tiny amount, but a baby cannot.( Botulism occurs naturally in many things. Even the heat of an autoclave will not kill the spores. Just a teaspoon full in a town’s water supply could do the town in for good.) Every Christmas for the last 30 years I think of the little boy lying in the isolate unable to move or cry.

My lyrics had “packs of cigarettes’ in it. Everybody knows those aren’t good for anyone. The cigarette butts are lethal. They contain a very large dose of nicotine trapped in the filter. When child or animals eats it they get very sick. Remember babies will pick up even a piece of lint off of the floor and put it in their mouths.

The last items do not make up a complete list. Please be aware of all the dangers of your Christmas tree for you children and your pets. The needles off of the branches are not easily digested. Swallowing them can irritate and cause vomiting and/or puncture the lining of the intestines.

Haven’t we all seen someone eat spoons full of sugar. Mary Poppins even gave ‘a spoon full of sugar to make the medicine go down.’ (NO honey, for the baby.) I can imagine a kid thinking that is sugar is sweet so much artificial sugar be sweet. Artificial sugar in overdoses can make anyone sick. Watch those packets.

I know first hand about unintentional poisoning. When I was three, my four-year old sister and I were left alone often in our parent’s apartment. I was hungry. I remember this really good tasting orange pills that Mommy had let me eat. There were gobs in this big bottle. I remember climbing on the toilet to be able to stand in the sink so I could get into that mirror thing were Mommy kept the orange candy. I ate the entire contents of baby aspirin. My sister was jealous so she told on me. Long story short, my stomach got pumped. This resulted in permanently damaging my esophageal valve.

In my next video blogs on You Tube the granddaughters and I will be demonstrating areas( like the top of the stairs and under the sinks) to install safety latches and gates to prevent injuries in the 10 month old baby in the house. Prevention is truly worth much more than a pound of cure.

If an accident does occur remove the child to a safe location and call poison  control at 800-222-1222. Depending on what you believe tha victim has ingested, or inhaled they will instruct you in what to do. Inducing vomiting  is no longer recommended.

In a subsequent blog I will go over some resources and basic life saving things you can do to help a child if they are poisoned.

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