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True Confessions from a “Good Mom”

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Like most moms, I consider myself to be a “good mom.” To me, that means that my No. 1 priority is to do everything I can to keep my three kids happy, healthy and safe. No problem, right? Well, as any “good mom” knows, bad things still happen, especially when it comes to safety.

I learned this lesson the hard way. In fact, I learned it twice.

The first time was when my youngest son got into a household cleaner.

My son is a high-energy, curious and adventurous 3-year-old boy – in other words, a typical toddler. My husband and I took all the standard safety precautions: covers on electrical outlets, child safety locks on all lower kitchen cabinets, and even toilet bowl locks. We did the same for my two older daughters and never had a problem. But that’s the curse of parenting – just when you start to think you have everything under control, something comes up to make you realize that you don’t.

In this case, we were all packing in the minivan on the way to school. The garage is our staging zone and I left my son unattended for only a few minutes to run back in for something I had forgotten. In that time, he grabbed a large broom, swung it over his head and successfully knocked down a few household cleaners and chemicals that we thought were stored safely up and away. I walked back in the garage to find him spraying his hand with a bathroom spray bottle and licking it!

After some extreme panic and a call to the Poison Control Center (it’s a number that all moms should store in their phone – 1-800-222-1222), we were relieved to learn that he would be fine. At least for the time being, because the next scare was even more frightening.

This time, my son was peacefully napping alone in his room. At least I thought he was napping.

Instead, my little explorer decided to pull the drawers all the way out of a tall, heavy dresser. This was the only piece of furniture in his room that was not secured to the wall – too heavy to tip –or so I thought.

He must have tried to climb the drawers and when he did, I heard a horrifying crash.

I’ll never forget that sound and the fear in my heart as I sprinted up the stairs and into his room.

Turns out he did try to climb the dresser and the dresser tipped over. We are so lucky that there was an ottoman in front of the dresser to break the fall and prevent a catastrophic result.

So now I find myself working on a safety issue that is on the rise: young children getting into medicine. As a Johnson & Johnson employee, I have a heightened understanding of how to store medicine to keep it safely aware from curious children. But as I learned through the research compiled by our partners at Safe Kids Worldwide, there are a number of safety gaps that I hadn’t considered.

For example, did you know whose medicine a child most frequently gets into? Answer: In 86 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the child got into medicine belonging to an adult. Where do you think a child most frequently found the medicine? Answer: In 67 percent of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning, the medicine was left within reach of the child, such as in a purse, on a counter, or under a sofa cushion.

The report offers the following top safety precautions that all parents and caregivers can take to keep children safe around medicine:

  • Put medicine and vitamins up and away and out of sight.
  • Look around your home for products you might not think about as medicine, such as diaper rash cream, vitamins, rubbing alcohol, or eye drops, and store them out of the reach of children.
  • When you have guests in your home, offer to put purses, bags and coats up high and out of sight to protect visitors’ property from a curious child.
  • Be alert to medicine in places your child visits. Take a look around to make sure there isn’t medicine within reach of your child.

The truth is, we all want to be “good moms” or “good dads.” We do our best to safeguard our house and we’ll do anything to keep our kids safe. But I’m starting to realize that has just as much to do with knowledge as it does with effort.

After reading the report from Safe Kids, I have to admit that I had diaper rash cream and other ointments on my son’s changing table; I have medication in a bag that I almost always leave on the floor; and I have children’s vitamins in the medicine cabinet of the kids’ bathroom. All of these are opportunities for my children to get into medicine, and I had never once considered them as a risk.

Just a few more true confessions from a self-described “good mom,” who is trying her best to keep her kids safe.

For more information about medicine safety, furniture tipovers, and generally keeping your children safe, please visit the Safe Kids website. Safe Kids is a partner of Johnson & Johnson.

Kristin Recchiuti is a Director of Medical Affairs at McNeil Consumer Healthcare. She directs the consumer and patient education function in medical affairs and is responsible for educational initiatives intended to increase the safe use of medication and reduce preventable harm from medication misuse or errors. She lives with her husband in Pennsylvania and has three children – ages 7, 5 and 3. Kristin has found a new passion in applying her background in communications to externally supported efforts to improve public health.

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