Pediatric ER Doctors: "Bah Humbug!" to Traditional Holiday Hazard Message

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Pediatric emergency medicine doctors and childproofing experts Dr. Joel Clingenpeel and Dr. James Schmidt want to refocus the safety message this holiday season to one which they feel will truly help reduce the number of preventable injuries. Most of the household injuries that occur during the holiday season are not holiday-specific injuries, but are the exact same types of injuries that occur commonly throughout the year - poisonings, chokings, falls, and burns. "While we certainly want families to decorate safely, give age appropriate toys, and secure their Christmas trees and candles this holiday season, we want to remind parents to stay vigilant for common household dangers and consider how travel and visitors will impact their child's home environment."

Pediatric emergency medicine doctors and childproofing experts Dr. Joel Clingenpeel and Dr. James Schmidt want to refocus the safety message this holiday season to one which they feel will truly help reduce the number of preventable injuries. "Unfortunately most of the holiday hazard stories that appear in the media simply miss the larger point regarding children's safety," says Dr. Clingenpeel. Most of the household injuries that occur during the holiday season are not holiday-specific injuries, but are the exact same types of injuries that occur commonly throughout the year - poisonings, chokings, falls, and burns.

As ER physicians working in children's hospitals and co-founders of Child Safety House Calls, a professional childproofing and child safety company, Drs. Clingenpeel and Schmidt see first hand the tragedies of this exciting, yet hectic, time of year. Nationwide a young child is treated in the emergency department for a household injury approximately every ninety seconds. The doctors report that the vast majority of childhood injuries that they treat around the holiday season do indeed occur within the home but surprising do not involve lights, Christmas trees or even toys.

Drs. Clingenpeel and Schmidt believe that many injuries this season will result from parents' inability to monitor their children quite as closely due to the competing demands of travel and holiday activities. They also warn parents to be especially vigilant when visiting homes that are not adequately childproofed. Additionally visitors unaccustomed to children need guidance such as where to place their coffee cups and the importance of cooking with pot handles turned inwards.

According to the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, pediatric poisoning calls increase almost three-fold during the holidays. "In my experience, the most dangerous item in the home of a young toddler, regardless of the season, is a grandparent's purse," states Dr. Schmidt. He suggests that providing older guests with a secure place to keep their medicines is very important since many adults are used to keeping their medicines out on countertops as a way of reminding themselves to take them. "The potential toxicity of some Christmas plants always gets attention in the media during the holidays, but I certainly see more children who have ingested their grandparent's blood pressure pills than children who have eaten mistletoe," says Dr. Schmidt.

Dr. Clingenpeel summates Child Safety House Calls' holiday message saying, "While we certainly want families to decorate safely, give age appropriate toys, and secure their Christmas trees and candles this holiday season, we want to remind parents to stay vigilant for common household dangers and consider how travel and visitors will impact their child's home environment."

About Child Safety House Calls:
Established in 2007 by pediatric emergency physicians, Child Safety House Calls is the nation's first pediatrician-founded child safety company. They provide individualized expert advice and comprehensive residential and commercial childproofing services. In addition, the organization promotes child safety education and advocates nationally for proper childproofing. More information on the company as well as child safety resources for parents, safety product evaluations, and a child safety product on-line store are available at http://www.ChildSafetyHouseCalls.com

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Joel Clingenpeel, MD

James Schmidt, MD
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