Hands up if you know that swallowing magnets can cause holes in your guts and is the type of situation that requires immediate medical intervention.
Although rare, it’s definitely on the radar of trauma doctors at B.C. Children’s Hospital this time of year.
It’s the same deal for small, “button batteries” that look like they belong in a wristwatch.
“Those are very tricky to extract and to help [with]. If there’s any concern that that might have happened, someone has got to really high tail it to the hospital,” said Dr. Rob Baird, co-director of the hospital’s trauma program.
Baird spoke to the Courier in the midst of the second busiest time of year for trauma doctors — summer is worse — and choking is the biggest concern for infants and toddlers.
“A lot of different things look delicious to kids and they really ought not to be,” Baird said. “You worry about age-inappropriate gifts that have little parts that look delicious to a three or four year old.”
Age appropriate is the name of the game this time of year for the wee ones. Baird stresses the need for reading labels and following instructions to the letter.
“The other obvious piece is to maintain good kiddie supervision,” he said. “If you’re taking your kids to the mall, it’s a zoo. Keep an eye on your kids.”
While summer sees a slew of cycling accidents involving vehicles, Baird there’s a marked decrease in those situations involving kids in the winter. Car accidents, however, do remain a top-of-mind concern for all ages this time of year. Days are shorter, there’s less light, people are hurrying and the weather sucks.
Add all of that up, and it leads to one of the most distressing injury types imaginable.
“The injury that worries most of us, most of the time is a traumatic brain injury,” Baird said. “It can be as minor as a mild concussion but it can be as serious as bleeding in the skull. That’s the sort of scenario that every parent would fear because that often needs immediate surgery and lots of intense care. It’s very tricky.”
Kids around eight, nine, 10 and into their teens represent a different set of injury issues. Because ski season is here and kids are at the rink, it’s about twisted ankles, broken arms and the like. Concussions are also a big problem with those activities and the easy answer is always wear a helmet.
As for parents who are stressed, rushing or overwhelmed, Baird offers this:
“This is going to sound a bit corny, and yes, Christmas is a time for gift giving, but you don’t need to always need to focus on the material world,” he said. “Sometimes just think about ways of celebrating the holiday season without worrying too much about the gifts going back and forth. Take a second and remember the peace, joy and happiness that should be part and parcel with the holiday season.”