By: Dr. Patricia Abboud
Summer is in full force!! After a long winter and a late start to spring, we couldn’t wait toget out and enjoy the nice weather with back yard barbecue swimming pools and of course the dreaded yard work. Summer time also brings with it hidden dangers for children. We are often keenly aware of children in the presence of swimming pools. But, do you often think of the other dangers your child may be exposed to in the summer?
According to a study published in Pediatrics, the researchers from Ohio State found that although overall chemical-related injures involving small children have decreased significantly over the last 10 years, they are likely to increase during the summer. The drop in these chemical poisonings began in 2000-2001 when the US Consumer Product Safety Commission required that such products to be in child resistant packaging.
Injuries from lamp oil (tiki lamps), kerosene (camping stoves), gasoline (lawnmowers) and turpentine all belong to a category of chemicals called hydrocarbons. These are dangerous liquids and are the 3rd leading cause of children’s poisoning deaths. The study quotes the highest percentage of death is caused by lamp oil. Most commonly, unintentional ingestions occur in those under 5 years old with those 1-2 years being at the highest risk of the most serious harm.
What makes hydrocarbons so dangerous?
Hydrocarbons have the ability to vaporize easily and therefore can be aspirated very easily and then penetrate deep into the lung causing difficulty breathing, bleeding and swelling. The breathing problems start in the first few hours. If a child is coughing, choking, grunting, wheezing, and/or turning blue, there is a high likelihood of aspiration. Other potential problems with hydrocarbon ingestions include irritation of the stomach, risk of vomiting, sleepiness, and coma. But far and away the most common complication is the injury to the lungs.
Although the study reports injuries are down quite a bit, nearly a third of hydrocarbon related injuries reported to poison control and emergency room visits came during the three summer months. As we enjoy our friends and families and the great outdoors this summer, don’t lose sight of the hidden dangers that your children may be exposed to.
What can you do to avoid hydrocarbon ingestions?
- Be aware of the danger
- Do not store the chemicals in mislabeled containers
- Make sure that they are stored where toddlers cannot get to them
- If ingestion occurs, call the National Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 and seek medical attention immediately.
Dr. Abboud is a pediatric intensivist at Dayton Children’s and the mother of three kids. As part of the “Dr. Mom Sqaud,” Dr. Abboud blogs about her experiences as both as doctor and a mom and hopes to share insight to other parents on issues related to both parenting and kids health. Learn more about Dr. Abboud!