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Potential household hazards revealed to keep children safe

February 18, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Accidental injuries are the leading cause of death in children, sending more than 16 million to the ER each year. You probably take precautions against obvious dangers around the house, but there are some things that may be potential hazards that you haven't thought of yet.

With six kids, Lyssha and Jake Bowden know a thing or two about child-proofing. But even with all their caution, their son Tino proved that boys will be boys when he swallowed 16 tiny craft magnets. Within an hour, he was in the ER.

"When we saw the X-rays, we actually saw that a couple days prior, he'd also been eating magnets, along with a Christmas tree light fuse that was down there," Jake Bowden said.

Once swallowed, magnets can attract and "glue" the esophagus, stomach or small bowel tissue together.

"They need surgery because they are very tight together. It cannot be removed," said pediatric gastroenterologist Manoochehr Karjoo.

But magnets aren't the only danger. Balloons, a staple of birthday parties, are one of the most common causes of toy-related choking deaths in kids.

"Balloons kind of conform to your food pipe, and they can choke you very easily," said Dr. Sangeeta Bhargava.

Your pet's food can also carry a choking risk. It's time to move it when baby starts to crawl.

"They are innocent. They don't know. They put it in (their) mouth, and they swallow," Karjoo said.

Another potential household danger is baby oil. Swallowing just one mouthful can cause lung inflammation. Ingesting Visine can cause breathing problems and seizures. Just a few teaspoons of hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in kids.

"I know they warn on the box, but when the danger's in the house, all the kids, they have access to it," Karjoo said.

And finally, batteries: From 1997 to 2010, 40,400 kids were treated in the ER for battery ingestion. Batteries cause tissue tears, burning and internal bleeding.

"If they get stuck in the esophagus, they can do damage very, very quickly," Bhargava said.

Tino had a six-hour surgery to remove his magnets. He still suffers stomach pain.

"Definitely made us take a look at littler parts and just the everyday items that you use that you wouldn't think about," Lyssha Bowden said.

Doctors say another potential danger many parents miss is loose computer cables and wires, which can be a strangulation hazard. They suggest making sure cords and cables are tied up securely to avoid problems.

Bhargava says the bottom line is "caution, caution, caution." It may just save your child's life.

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