HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 2, 2006, Herald Journal

Those emergency room visits


I recently had a conversation with another parent about emergency room visits with our beloved children. The father asked if we’d made any trips to the emergency room with our children. And with a quick response, my husband and I simultaneously answered with an affirmative, “Oh, yes.”

The father shared his most recent emergency room story with us, which happened to be as recent as the previous night. His four-year old son swallowed a marble from a game his boy had played with many times before.

“Sorry, Mom, but I swallowed a marble,” he told his mom. Obviously the boy was not choking since he was able to speak, but his parents took him into the emergency room. There, the staff proceeded to take X-rays to make sure the marble wasn’t lodged some place in the little boy’s body it wasn’t supposed to be. Not that the marble was supposed to be anywhere in his body.

But we know kids, and as much as we try to prevent accidents and the such from happening, they happen. As for the marble, it too, will pass.

I remember a few of my mishaps when I was younger, swallowing a quarter when I was younger, and the time I got a few of my fingers in a piece of running farm machinery. My fingers had caught in the belt and needless to say, there was much blood and a couple finger tips dangling, among other lacerations.

My father immediately stopped the machine, and yelled for my mom, who came running. I just remember them being very calm, flipping my dangling finger parts back on, wrapping my fingers in cloth and rushing me to the car to make a visit to Dr. Smith’s office, where he stitched me up, and eventually my fingers were almost as good as new.

Ear aches, croup, dehydration, stepping on a nail have been some of the reasons my husband and I have made those emergency room visits with our own children.

We haven’t been to the emergency room lately, but I did make a call to the poison control center just last week. My 2-year old, Delaney, swallowed some ACT mouth rinse, the children’s version, but it is just that, a rinse, not intended for swallowing. Well, at least not much of it.

Delaney was going to the bathroom on her potty chair, and with the bathroom door open, I stepped out for one minute to get the laundry out of the dryer, which is right next to the bathroom. Of course, as parents we are always trying to get as much done as we can, in as little time as we have.

Delaney usually likes to sit on her chair for a while to read, sing or relax. When I came back into the bathroom she was standing on a stool by the sink and was sucking on the ACT rinse bottle, and the cap was off.

Her older sister had used the rinse and left it by the counter, in close enough range for a curious toddler to reach, with the help of a stool.

Now, there is some child proofing to the bottle, but a child can squeeze a certain amount into the neck of the bottle to use. I did not know how much she had swallowed if really any and she wasn’t vomiting or showing any other symptoms. In fact, she was talking and singing.

To play it safe, I called the poison control center, whose number is taped to the inside of my cupboard door by the phone. The poison control center gentleman asked if she was vomiting or showing any other signs. She wasn’t, and he further instructed me to have her drink some milk and watch for symptoms, but most likely she was fine.

And she was. Again, it was reminder of the importance of child proofing your home, which I think our family does a pretty good job of, but there is always room for improvement. We, my husband and I, talked with our children about the importance of putting things away, out of reach of little hands.

It is important to talk with your children about basic safety around the house, how to dial 9-1-1 in emergency situations only, memorizing their address, not plugging their boom boxes, compact disc players, etc. in the bathroom, where it may be wet.

As accidents can and do happen, it is important to know how best to respond to them.

Having emergency numbers close by your phone in quick access is recommended.

Staying calm and knowing how to respond to situations is important.

Taking first aid courses and CPR courses can only help and retaking them every so often is well worth it.

There are many community education programs that offer the courses as well as local hospitals, so these classes are easily accessible, and again, well worth the investment.

You never know when you may be in a situation that requires first aid and emergency responding.

Humorous Quote: “Children are a great comfort in your old age – and they help you reach it faster, too.”

– Lionel M. Kaufman