A Grandparent’s Guide to Poison Prevention
By Tony “Grandman” Burda and Grazina Janeliauskaite
Two recent developments have spurred us to address the importance of diligent poison prevention by grandparents of small children. On September 9 2010, the PEW Research Center released a report entitled “Since the Start of the Great Recession, More Children Raised by Grandparents.” This report revealed a surprising statistic that one out of ten children in the United States lives with a grandparent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau data, 41% of those children who live with a grandparent are also being raised primarily by that grandparent. Most notably, there was a sharp jump of 6% between the years 2007-2008 which corresponded to the first year of the Great Recession. Therefore, we feel the need to reach this burgeoning caregiver population with the message of being proactive about poison prevention and safety, is timely, relevant and compelling.
Secondly, and on a more personal note, I (Tony) am going to be a grandparent myself for the very first time this coming December. For a guy in his mid-fifties, I can’t stomach being called “grandpa” or “the old man” so I will request that my future granddaughter, family, friends and co-workers address me as “Grandman.” This summer I even grew a beard figuring that if I am going to be a grandfather, I might as well look like one. My wife and I couldn’t be more excited about the new addition to our family. But on an everyday level, this means we have to practice what we preach. We must make a concerted effort to make our house safer and poison-proof in the coming months as the baby starts to get around and get into things (that 18-36 month period is hand-to-mouth exploration time).
There are several reasons why the homes of a grandparent may put a child at greater risk of accidental poisoning if appropriate poison prevention measures are not taken:
- As people get older, they are usually taking more prescription medicines.
- Older individuals often use daily pill organizers which are not child-resistant and may request non-child resistant prescription containers at their pharmacy for ease of use.
- Older individuals may not meticulously search for dropped medication tablets.
- Adults who have been “empty nesters” for a while may have let their guard down by not storing their medications and household products locked up or well out of reach of children.
Are we implying that grandparents are less conscientious about safety of the children under their care? Absolutely not! In fact, a recent study titled “Risk Factors for Unintentional Injuries in Children: Are Grandparents Protective?”, published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2008, concluded that “having grandparents as caregivers was protective, cutting the odds for injury roughly by half compared with having a stay-at-home mother.” In this study poisoning was included as a cause of unintentional injury.
Due to a variety of socioeconomic factors such as both parents working full-time, single-parent households, high divorce rates, creation of blended families by remarriage, several generations living under one roof, etc. child rearing is not just for mom and dad anymore. Everyone involved in the day-to-day nurture and care of those precious little ones must take on the responsibility of seeing to it that the home is a fun place, as well as safe, clean and comfortable. This includes a large dose of poison prevention – the best antidote for the problem of accidental childhood poisoning. We are here to help.
- Keep medications safely locked and stored so that small children can’t reach them
- Tightly close and put away dangerous products immediately after using them
So, if you are one of these super-grandparents who does their best to create a safe environment for their grandkids on a daily basis, our hats are off to you and we urge you to keep up the great work. On the other hand, if you are one that requires a bit of a tune-up since it’s been a while since you raised your kids, please visit our website (http://www.illinoispoisoncenter.org/) or call the IPC at 1-800-222-1222 to request a complimentary packet of information with helpful tips on poison-proofing the home, telephone stickers and refrigerator magnets. Don’t forget to check out the “My Child Ate…” resource center which gives toxicity level and treatment information for the most common substances/products ingested by children.
P.S. Oh, by the way, Grammy and Grandpops, happy belated National Grandparent’s Day (September 12 2010).