No, this is not our attempt to make shameless PG-rated “bathroom humor.” I haven’t conducted any studies nor am I equipped with any concrete statistics; all I have is my 30 years of observations as a certified toxicologist and those of other Illinois Poison Center call center staff. Yet I ask you to consider the following: the act of going to the bathroom provides enough time and opportunity for any adventurous and clever toddler to get into mischief, which may unfortunately lead to an unwarranted injury or exposure.
A common call from a parent to the IPC often starts something like this…”All I did was go to the bathroom and…. “my toddler got into my purse and ate some ibuprofen pills that were in a baggie”, or “ he pulled a chair up to the counter and ate 30 vitamins, or “ she ran into the bedroom and drank some perfume.”
In those few moments, while answering the call of nature, kids can get into all kinds of things such as, chewing on electrical cords, climbing up or down hazardous staircases, jumping up and down on the sofa, etc. Well from our experience you can add unintentional poisoning to that list of potentially dangerous activities they’re capable of getting in to, if given the chance.
Don’t get the wrong idea. I am not advocating that you cross your legs, ignore the call of nature, and make yourself uncomfortable. However I am saying that poison prevention should be an active practice, even when you need a few minute break to “take care of business”. Small children learn quickly, when Mom or Dad is temporarily indisposed for a few minutes, they can do things that couldn’t (and wouldn’t) be done if they’re parents or guardians were in the room. There is a lot of truth to the old adage “kids act fast- and so does poison”.
The take home lesson for today is simply:
- Never underestimate the power of a child’s curiosity, sense of adventure and climbing skills when they have 1-2 minutes of freedom.
- Think ahead to when you need to make a “pit stop”, and arrange to have toddlers supervised, by another adult, or a responsible older child; or consider placing him or her in a play pen/room.
- Be sure that all household items and medicines are stored high, out of sight and reach of children. It might seem like common sense, but we can all use a little reminder every now and again to make sure we’re always on alert when the little ones are at play.
Despite even your best efforts, if your child does eat, spray something in their eyes, or roll around in something potentially harmful, don’t feel bad about it, just call the Illinois Poison Center for some immediate recommendations and reassurance; we’re here to help 24/7/365. Call 1-800-222-1222.
And to learn more about poison prevention tips and resources, please visit www.illinoispoisoncenter.org/outreachand complete our free Poison Prevention Education Course (takes about 30 mins). After finishing the course you will have access to the online resource center where you’ll be able to order free stickers, magnets, brochures, posters and much more!
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.