Have you ever worried that your little one would pick up anything lying around and put it in his or her mouth? Young children, especially toddlers, can hardly identify what’s edible or not, which is why parents need to be alert and keep children away from potentially dangerous items.
A five-year-old child, Abhay, for instance, was critically ill after swallowing a naphthalene ball. He was admitted to Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield, in Bengaluru, with severe jaundice, complaining of vomiting and decreased urine output. He was finally cured.
Naphthalene balls are commonly used in households. Dr Senthil Kumar, Consultant Paediatric, Neonatal & Cardiac Intensivist, Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield, who treated Abhay, suggested some tips for parents on keeping children safe from naphthalene balls:
1. Parents must ensure that naphthalene balls/ mothballs are kept away from the reach of children.
2. Directions to use naphthalene balls must be followed carefully. These balls are suggested to be used on or around clothing and not in the attic area, on the ground or in the eaves.
3. Proper washing of clothing and bedding has to be done before wearing or using it.
4. Disposal of old/ unused naphthalene balls should be done timely.
Keeping your child safe from toxic items
Not just naphthalene balls, there are several other items kept at home, from medicines to disinfectants, which, if consumed, can prove detrimental to children. Dr Kumar suggested ways in which parents can ensure children’s safety:
1. Keep toxic substances not only out of children’s way but also hidden from their sight.
2. Keep all medication behind locked cabinets.
3. Properly label items.
4. Use child-resistant containers and packaging.
5. Avoid highly toxic substances at home.
What to do in case if a child accidentally consumes toxic substances
Despite all measures, if a child ends up consuming a toxic substance, here are steps that parents can consider, besides, of course, immediately contacting a medical professional, as recommended by Dr Kumar:
1. Watch for warning signs like recurrent vomiting, fever, bluish discoloration of lips and fingers, breathing difficulty, persistent cough, fits, increased irritability or drowsiness, jaundice, abdominal pain, decreasing urine output and poor oral intake.
2. Rush to the nearest hospital.
3. Don’t induce vomiting in case of acid, bleach, detergent, petroleum distillates, mosquito repellents or ingestion of toxic oils.
4. If possible, carry the alleged poison with you to the hospital to help them understand the nature of poisoning and the antidote, if available.