Dr. Diana Koelliker, Medical Director of Emergency Services & Telluride EMS Director


Telluride Inside… and Out is proud to feature the Telluride Medical Center’s MEDICAL MOMENT, a weekly column that answers common medical questions in pop culture. Have a question for the doctors? Click here to send.

Dr. Diana Koelliker answers this week’s question:

Dr. Diane Koelliker

Dr. Diana KoellikerDr. Diana Koelliker answers this week’s question:

What household items should be kept away from children?

Here are the top 8 hazardous items that could be found in your home:

1. Button batteries and magnets: Button (or disc) batteries power products, such as remote control devices, calculators, watches, hearing aids, handheld games, clocks, and key chains. Ingested button batteries have a strong potential for corrosive injury to the gastrointestinal tract with major complications, including esophageal burns, holes in the intestines, and even death.

Magnets can cause similar injuries if swallowed, so keep them out of reach of small children and counsel older children to never put these items in their mouths!

2. Stairs and windows: Falls are among the top reasons children are seen in an Emergency Department. Keep stairs blocked with safety gates so curious toddlers can’t access them.

Children can also be strangled by window drapery and blind cords that can form a loop. Use cordless blinds or keep cords or chains permanently out of the reach of children.  Never place a child’s crib or playpen within reach of a window blind. Never rely on window screens to keep kids from falling out. Keep furniture away from upper story windows, so kids aren’t tempted to climb to look out.  Remember window screens are meant to keep bugs out, but and won’t necessarily keep kids in….

3. Furniture tip-overs: Furniture, TVs, bookcases, dressers, and stoves can tip over and crush children if they climb up onto them.

Secure furniture to the wall or floor. Be wary of items on top of the TV, furniture or dressers, such as toys, remote controls or treats might tempt kids to climb.

4. Medicines, vitamins and pills: Vitamin pills and over-the-counter meds like Tylenol can be extremely dangerous. Buy pill bottles with a child safety cap and keep all medicines and pills out of your child’s reach, and preferably locked up.

Summertime is a common time for accidental poisonings when out of town guests may not have their medications in secure containers, like 7-day pill boxes. These containers are easy to open and look appealing to children that may think they contain candy.

Some medications like blood pressure pills, anti-depressants, diabetes medications, and seizure meds, can be fatal to a small child with just one pill.

Some adolescents drink cough medicine to get high, with some unfortunate cases of kids drinking toxic amounts of acetaminophen (Tylenol) found in cold preparations. Talk to your teens about the dangers of ingesting medicines for recreational purposes. Always dispose of old or expired prescriptions, particularly controlled substances like pain meds. Parents should know the number to Poison control – 1-800-332-3073 (program it into your phone) and should call if their child has an accidental ingestion.

Call 911 if your child is unresponsive or has difficulty breathing.

5. Cleaning supplies, chemicals, and other household products: More than 1000 kids die each year from unintentional poisonings with cleaning supplies, drain cleaners, pesticides/rodenticides, household solvents and automotive products. While most of these items smell or taste bad and therefore discourage ingestion, some, like antifreeze, smell and taste sweet. New laundry detergent pods have resulted in poisonings when children ate or bit them thinking they were candy.

Keep cleaning agents and chemicals locked up and away from children.  Some essential oils like wintergreen, camphor, sassafras, almond oil, etc. are extremely toxic if ingested. These products can be found around the house as bath oils, air fresheners, and massage oils. Keep these out of the reach of children. There have also been reports of children being poisoned when they ingested liquid nicotine for electronic cigarettes. Some of these products seem benign, but it only takes a small amount to be toxic to a child; accidental poisonings can happen with devastating results.

6. Choking hazards: One of the first things a small child will do with a new object is put it in their mouth. There are many food (hot dogs, peanuts, grapes, carrots) and non-food (coins, small balls and objects that conform, like balloons) items that can result in choking. Prevention of choking is clearly the key, but all parents should be familiar with simple first aid responses like back blows and abdominal/chest thrusts to clear an airway. Find a local or online class to get more information on first aid.

7. Pools, tubs and spas: While we don’t have many pools in Telluride, many homes have spas and most have bath tubs. Small children can drown in as little as 12 inches of water. Never leave a preschool child unattended in the bath tub or while swimming.

Keep pools and spas covered and/or fenced. Teach children how to swim and parents should know basic CPR so if an accident occurs, the response can be as quick as possible.

8. Firearms: All firearms should be stored in a locked cabinet with the key in a distant location. Bullets and ammunition should be locked in a separate location. Never keep a round chambered in a weapon. Even if you don’t own firearms, discuss the danger with your children and what they should do if they encounter firearms at a friend or relative’s house. Children should never touch or handle a firearm even if they “know” it’s not loaded.


Editor’s note: The Telluride Medical Center is the only 24-hour emergency facility within 65 miles. You can choose your own medical provider visit with a specialist or take advantage of their Mountain Skin Care services. As a mountain town in a challenging, remote environment, a thriving medical center is vital to our community’s health. For more Medical Moments on TIO, Click Here.


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