Friday, August 27, 2010

The Purse Invasion

You do your best to make your castle a safe place for the children to play. You get safety latches for the cupboards and plugs to cover the outlets and safety gates on the stairs. You be sure to set all knives, medicine, poisons, matches and lighters, etc., safely out of reach. You childproof your living spaces in every way you can, so that prying little fingers won't be able to get their hands on anything that could hurt them.

Yet one of the most prominent dangers is often something most parents completely overlook: the purse. It's dangerous for several reasons: First, as any parent knows, young kids love to get into it. It sits there like a kiddy magnet, sending out mischievous vibes and calling out to any child with a curiosity that happens to be in the vicinity, beckoning them to inquire as to what's inside. Second, what's inside can often be dangerous to kids. People commonly carry medicine or lighters or pepper spray or stun guns or other little things that can pose a big hazard. Finally, this bag of potential death and danger easily breaches the security of your fortress. It's carried right through the front door and often set on the counter, a bar stool, or even right on the floor within easy reach of little fingers.

A significant number of accidental poisonings occur when children get into grandmas purse during a visit, which is often filled with medication, as elderly people in general are much more likely to be on some kind of medical regimen. Since they don't have small hands prying in their purse themselves, they may not think twice about what's inside. Furthermore, medications kept in a purse are often removed from their childproof containers. Adults often make a "traveling pack" of medication, keeping pills in a pouch or another container that a child can easily get into. A young child who discovers their stash pops a few pills, and the next thing you know you're rushing little Suzie to the hospital.

Children who die in house fires they started while playing with fire often retrieved their fire making tools from an ill-placed purse or handbag. A number of choking deaths can be linked to children swallowing trinkets found inside a purse. There's also the occasional accident with handguns, self-defense weapons, or the other potentially dangerous items people carry around with them. With so many dangers lurking inside such a small bag, there are several things parents can do to avert a potential disaster:

1. When you have guests, be sure to ask them if they have anything dangerous in their purse that the kids might get a hold of. Or just keep all purses and handbags in a clearly visible area where both they and the kids can be monitored.

2. Consider setting aside a high cupboard in which to keep your own purse or those of guests, so that children aren't able to get into them.

3. Another idea is to install a high shelf directly above the entryway for which to keep purses, car keys, or other materials. It also makes a convenient spot for hanging notes.

These precautions aside, simply be aware and vigilant. Extra awareness that purses pose a danger is the first step in proactively ensuring they don't. Always be aware of what's in your own purse or handbag and where these purses are in relation to any prying little fingers that may be around.

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