We’ve all had those relatable ‘facepalm’ type moments. You know, that moment where you feel like a terrible parent because you shut your child’s finger in the door, because you looked away and your baby rolled off the bed, or maybe you left the gate open and your toddler took a tumble down the stairs. Been there, done that. But what about those other, more serious moments? Like when your child drinks poison right in front of your eyes.
I still remember it like it was yesterday.
It was a sunny, crisp October weekend and I was in the kitchen preparing lunch. My husband was in our postage-stamp sized backyard with our twins, doing some fall clean-up. The kids were jumping in the piles of leaves and helping alongside Daddy with their toy weed eaters and chainsaws. And that’s when I heard my husband let out a line of profanity followed by my name and a “GET OUT HERE NOW!!!! CALL 9-1-1!!!!!”
Our 3-year-old daughter had ingested poison.
He had been taking apart our tiki torches and emptying the remaining fluid back into the original jug. All the canisters from the torches were sitting on the patio, one of them had the top removed waiting to be emptied. My husband looked away for a few seconds. Just a few seconds. That was all it took. She had grabbed the bottle, presumably thinking it was juice or something, and took a big swig. He looked over and saw her with it in her hands, coughing.
As a new parent, you equip your refrigerator with all the necessary emergency numbers. You stock your first aid kit with necessities and more. But when something like this actually happens? You panic. Thankfully, after a few seconds, my trembling hands managed to flip open my phone in order to call 9-1-1. They instructed me that under no circumstances should I induce vomiting, as it could get into her airways. So we tried to comfort her and keep her calm (she was having trouble breathing) until the EMTs arrived.
It was the scariest ambulance ride of my life, but once we got to the hospital and after she got some oxygen, had a giant bout of vomiting into daddy’s lap, and they monitored her for a few hours to make sure her vitals were stable and she could keep water down, we were discharged and resumed life at home as normal. Or as normal as two shaken up parents can be. For years, we berated ourselves (ok, let’s be truthful…I blamed my husband, since it was on his watch) for letting this happen. All those “what ifs” entered our mind. It took a good decade for me to see that things like this can happen to good parents. Watchful parents. Any parent. I had meticulously followed all the steps to keep our house safe. Everything was well out of reach and labeled with giant Mr. Yuk stickers and signs. It just took one moment of letting our guard down.
Did you know that more than half of child poisoning cases involve common household substances? According to the CDC, every day, over 300 children in the United States ages 0 to 19 are treated in an emergency department, and two children die, as a result of being poisoned. As a parent, there are several simple steps we can take to try and prevent accidental poisonings from happening. What about if your child accidentally ingests a substance – do you know what to do? If your child is conscious and stable, you should NOT give ipecac syrup or try to make them throw up — this can do more harm than good. Instead, call the poison-control center at 800-222-1222. Be prepared to tell the person on the other end of the phone as much information as you can : what you believe they ingested, how long ago, and how much. Then follow their instructions. If your child is having difficulty breathing or is having seizures or is unconscious, call 9-1-1.
Have you ever experienced a scary incident involving your child and accidental poisoning?