10 Hidden Dangers Every Parent Should Know

parents walking with their child while holding hands
Photo credit: Unsplash

As parents, we all have one thing in common: wanting to protect our children. We tend to focus on the common dangers like drownings, car accidents, or house fires. However, many of us are unaware of less common dangers that don’t get as much publicity. Learning about these other hazards can help you take simple steps to keep your baby and child safe.

1 Accidently locking child in the car

Father putting daughter in a car seat
Photo credit: Freepik

Did you know that your car can automatically lock trapping your child inside while you are outside?This accident happens more often than you may think and has nothing to do with your parenting skills.

As a parent, your days are understandably hectic. You have millions of things on your mind. You might be sleep deprived. You might be distracted You might do things in the wrong order that day. Or it could be the car’s fault.

Whatever has happened, your child is accidentally locked inside the car and it’s important to get them out safely. If you don’t have a spare key nearby or you can’t get your child to unlock the doors from inside, do these things:

  • Call the police/ civil defense. They will be immediately dispatched to your location. If you have also locked your phone in the car, quickly find someone nearby who will let you borrow their phone. Treat this as an emergency.
  • Call an emergency locksmith. They can unlock the car in less than a couple of minutes. Sometimes, they arrive before the police.
  • Remain calm. Although it’s difficult, don’t panic. It could cloud your judgement and you may have difficult time making decisions. Plus, it’s best for your child. If he sees you calm, they are more likely to remain calm themselves.
  • If the weather is hot and your child is distressed, don’t wait for help. Instead, break a window and remove your child immediately.

To avoid this disaster altogether, keep the key fob always on you.

2 Escalator

Escalator and close-ups of feet trapped in escalator mechanism

Escalators have lots of moving parts. The newly installed ones have usually visible signs warning of potential dangers. The brush guard on the sides of the escalator, and the yellow marks on their steps and comb plates, are meant to help passengers stay within the demarcated area. They also prevent entrapment between the gaps of the escalators. In addition, the escalators are usually equipped with safety devices that detect if an object becomes trapped between their gaps; however, these features aren’t completely foolproof.

Children wearing footwear such as Crocs or soft pliable shoes such as flip-flops are especially at risk of being caught in escalator mechanism. The softness of the shoes’ material combined with the smaller size of children’s feet makes this sort of accident especially common. If you or your child are wearing rubber shoes or flip-flops, use the elevator rather than the escalator.

If your child’s foot gets caught in the escalator, press the emergency button to stop the escalator. They are usually red-colored and located at the top and bottom of the escalators. 

Read more on escalator dangers here.

3 Latex balloons

Close-up kids playing with balloons
Photo credit: Freepik

Did you know that latex balloons are a danger to your child? Maybe this has come as a surprise to you. Balloons are festive and colorful. Most importantly, they are part of all our occasions. So why are they a danger to children?

Here are the facts. Balloons are the leading cause of choking deaths in children. Most of the accidents involve children under the age of 6. Accidents might happen in two ways: First, when children try to inflate a balloon and accidently suck them into their mouth and throat. Second, when children chew on balloons or pieces of broken balloons.

Uninflated balloons and pieces of broken balloons can stretch and mold to a child’s throat, making it impossible to breathe. The worst is that balloons are very hard to remove because of their smooth slippery texture. That’s why first-aid methods might not work. So, the key here is prevention.

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Skip latex balloons. Let’s be honest, it’s difficult not to have balloons around your child especially that they are at every birthday party. So the best you can do is supervise them very closely. Really close.
  • Opt for foil balloons. They are sturdier and less likely to be inhaled and less likely to break into small pieces.
  • Discard broken balloons immediately, especially if you have a crawling baby.
  • Keep uninflated balloons locked up and away from children.

4 Pool drain

Child in a tub
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Everyone knows that diving in shallow water is dangerous and that they should be careful when walking on wet decks. However, very few people know of the hidden danger from drains or suction entrapment.

Pool drains pull the water down, allowing the pool to be filtered, and in the process, cleans the pool.  However, this suction is the main reason why pool drains are potentially dangerous. If you swim too close to them, your hair, jewelry, fingers, or any other body part can get sucked in. The suction force is so strong making it impossible to remove you once this happens. Unfortunately, most of the victims are children.

Protect your child by following the below tips:

  • Do not let your child wear their hair down in the water. If your child has long hair, make sure it is tied up before they get into the water.
  • Teach your child to practice pool drain safety. Make them understand how important it is to stay away from drains.
  • If you see a broken or loose drain cover, immediately notify a lifeguard and the pool/spa manager.
  • If you have a pool in your home, ensure all pools and spas have compliant drain covers and other anti-entrapment safety devices, as needed.

Read more on pool safety here.

5 Nursemaid elbow

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Many children squeal with delight when you swing them around or back and forth by the arms. But did you know that it can lead to one of the most common injuries in young children?

It’s called Nursemaid elbow or Pulled elbow and it occurs when a child’s elbow is pulled and one of the bones partially dislocates. The most common symptom is pain. Usually, a child will hold the injured arm to their side without moving it in order to prevent further pain.

Nursemaid elbow can be difficult to diagnose because it doesn’t cause swelling or disfigurement. If you suspect your child has injured their elbow, seek immediate medical treatment. A doctor or a nurse will be able to reset the elbow. The procedure is painful, but it only lasts a short moment. The child will be able to use his arm again within the next minutes.

6 Button batteries

Did you know that a button battery is one of the most damaging and dangerous things your baby could swallow? If ever ingested, the battery can react with the saliva and gastric fluid causing deadly poisoning.

These batteries are found in many household objects and toys:

  • Remote controls
  • Watches
  • Hearing aids
  • Digital scales
  • Digital thermometers
  • Calculators
  • Children’s toys
  • Musical greeting cards
  • Flashing jewelry and shoes

How can you keep your child safe?

  • Search your home for gadgets that may contain button batteries.
  • Secure the battery devices out of reach of children if the battery compartment is not secure.
  • Make sure spare batteries are locked away and used batteries are disposed of safely.

If you suspect your child swallowed button batteries, go to the emergency room right away. Read more on the dangers of button batteries here.

7 Magnets

Did you know that magnets pose a serious danger if swallowed? Magnets are found in toys; but, the most common magnets for children to swallow are those marketed for adults. These pellet-style magnets can be 30 times stronger than a standard kitchen magnet. Their strength and size make them dangerous. When a child swallows two or more magnets, the magnets can attract and pull together with enough force within the child’s body, causing digestive tissue to be trapped between them. This cuts off blood supply to that area, which can be life-threatening. Surgery is often needed to remove the magnets and fix the damaged tissue. The same thing can happen when a child swallows one magnet and an object that can be attracted to it, like a coin.

Swallowing magnets is a serious, life-threatening matter. Prevention is key. Follow the below tips to protect your child:

  • Keep adult desk toys out of reach of your child and pets, for example, in a locked cabinet. Be sure to discard them safely, too.
  • Choose refrigerator magnets that are large enough they cannot be swallowed or pose a choking hazard to your child.
  • Closely monitor products at home with small or loose magnets and keep them away from your child who might swallow them.

If you think your child has swallowed magnets, contact your pediatrician or nearest emergency department. Read more on magnets danger here.

8 Rubber toys

Little baby girl holding toy in hands taking bath, plays in water with duck and dolphin.
Photo credit:

Did you know that bathtub toys can be dangerous to your child? If your baby has bathtub toys that can trap water inside like the cute rubber ducks that squirt water, throw them out. They are a breeding ground for bacteria. No matter how hard you try, you cannot clean them enough. Remember that you cannot see the bacteria, but it is there.

Read more on rubber bathtub toys here.

9 Leaving child in a car

A toddler girl left in a parked car
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Did you know that a child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s does?
Did you know that heat stroke can happen when the outside temperature is as low as 14°C?

A child left in a hot car, or who gets into an unlocked vehicle unnoticed, can die of heat stroke very quickly. These tragedies can be prevented. Here are some safety reminders from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Always check the back seat and make sure all children are out of the car before locking it and walking away.
  • If someone else is driving your child, always check to make sure he has arrived safely.
  • Keep your car locked when it is parked to prevent curious children from entering when no one is around.
  • Remind children that cars, especially car trunks, should not be used for games like hide and seek.

10 Elevator doors

Children inside the lift pressing an elevator button
Photo credit: Shutterstock

While modern elevators are relatively safe for passengers with proper installation, advanced safety features, and regular service, children can still suffer injuries. Many of these elevator-related accidents are avoidable with proper public awareness.

The most common danger is when kids’ hands are crushed by the elevator doors. How does it happen? The child puts his hand between the moving door and the adjacent wall. As the elevator doors open, their hand gets stuck in.

How can you keep your child safe? Be very careful and watch out for young children, especially toddlers and preschoolers. Teach your child to stand away from the doors and not to put their hands or feet into the area between the moving door and the adjacent wall.

Read more on elevator dangers here.

In a nutshell

These hidden dangers don’t get too much attention. The fact that very few people know about them is worrisome. Help us spread the word. Share this article with other parents you know so we can keep all our children safe.

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