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Summer 2013 - Pretty but Poisonous

Kids will be kids so parents have to pay close attention to surroundings and be aware of the potential hazard for poisoning. It only takes a few seconds for a child to discover something interesting and pop it in their mouth.

Families who are on the go, especially with summer adventures in the great outdoors, don’t have as much control of their environment so it’s good to remember that curious kids may find some pretty things that are actually pretty dangerous. Even seasonal things, such as new flowers coming up in your own back yard, can pose a hazard to a child exploring nature.

Rhododendron, Lantana, Oleander, Mountain Laurel and many other beautiful plants can be toxic for humans. However, it’s not always the pretty flowers that pose the problem. “It’s not easy to provide a list of poisonous plants for concerned parents,” said Laura Wright, owner of Mindful Garden Design. “Would you be surprised to hear that most plants are toxic?” Wright explains that one or more parts of most plants contain poisons that can cause illness or death to some or many species.

The best thing a parent can do is be aware; supervise children. Think ahead about what will likely catch the eye of an exploring child.

Visiting Family & Friends
If you plan to stay at someone else’s home, it is especially important to remind them about the kids and curiosity. Initiate an open dialogue in advance so you don’t startle your host with questions and requests upon arrival. If you’re staying with someone who is not used to having young children around, they may not be in the habit of thinking about common hazards.

Make sure cleaning products, medications, plants and other poisonous products are stored out of reach and sight of children. Even an unattended purse, grocery bag or suitcase can have a number of dangerous items.

New Products of Concern
As companies develop new products and redesign the look of common household items, new concerns surface for the safety of children. The bottom line is kids will put almost anything in their mouths so you always need to be on the lookout for new sources of poisoning.

Many laundry and dish detergent pods contain bright colors and even swirly designs. “There is real concern about the potential for young children to be poisoned by ingesting laundry or detergent pods,” said Amy Griffin, MD, medical director of WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department. “The CDC has previously issued warnings about laundry detergent poisonings, and they are definitely something parents need to be careful about to prevent future child poisoning emergencies.”

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Act Fast!
Seek immediate medical attention if you think your child has ingested anything that is not a safe, edible item.

Program the Poison Control Center number in your home and mobile phones.

Call 1-800-222-1222 for fast and free help in English and Spanish – available any time; any day.

Call 911 if your child is having trouble breathing, moving, or has a seizure.

Do not induce vomiting or give your child anything unless you are told to do so by the Poison Control Center or an emergency medical professional.

Safely Dispose Unused Medicines
“Child poisoning deaths continue to rise,” said Dr. Griffin. “It is a problem with curious young children as well as teens who are abusively taking medications.”

All adults who take prescription and over-thecounter drugs need to act responsibly to keep them out of the hands of children. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( provides instructions about how to safely dispose of unused medications.


Learn More
Safe Kids provides good advice and resources for parents. Visit their website for tips, hard facts and other sound advice about keeping your family safe.

Summertime means families are on the move! With increased activities and a twist of fun, sometimes kids get hurt. Bumps, bruises and breaks can happen when you least expect them. If your child needs emergency care, the best thing to do is head to the closest emergency room or call 911 if your child’s condition is severe.

Emergencies can be very scary for both little and big kids (which includes parents)! WakeMed has got you covered at all of our emergency department locations, which are backed by WakeMed Children’s and offer a child-friendly environment and staff to care for the tiniest of patients. In fact, nearly 30 percent of the patients seen at WakeMed’s stand-alone emergency departments are children.

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For more information, directions and wait times, download the free WakeMed app available for iPhone and Android devices.


 As published in Families First Magazine - Summer 2013



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