Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday Spotlight #23: Is Your Spice Drawer Dangerous?

Saturday Spotlight #23
I worry. A lot. 

Just when I think I worry about everything under the sun, I find out about something that I didn't even know I should be worrying about. Something that is commonly available and potentially fatal.

As parents, we try to protect our children from harm.  We tell them they can't do dangerous things, we caution them about things that could potentially put them at risk.  We talk to them about the risk of using drugs, the dangers of drunk driving. 

Yesterday I read an article about a substance that I never even knew could be dangerous.

When my son was about 12, he and his friends held a contest at another friend's house. Like the reality show "Fear Factor," they dared each other to ingest a bunch of gross concoctions; nothing poisonous but odd combinations flavored with hot sauce, soy sauce, etc.   When he got home and told me about it, I warned him that these sorts of activities are not wise. I gave him the example that soy sauce isn't meant to be drunk; it has a high sodium content and consuming an unusually large quantity could cause an electrolyte imbalance. 

Edible items, when ingested differently than intended, are not always harmless.  I have talked with my kids about the dangers of eating mushrooms in the wild, huffing from whipping cream canisters, and eating spoiled food.  But, I never knew that I should warn them about swallowing cinnamon.

Sadly, the death of a 4-year old boy named Matthew brought the risk to my attention.  Apparently, Matthew climbed up onto a counter, got some powdered cinnamon, began putting it in his mouth, started choking, appeared to be having a seizure, and died.  Any mother knows how quickly kids can climb and get into things - few of us have ever locked our spice cabinet.  But, perhaps that would be wise. 

An online dare called "The Cinnamon Challenge" has circulated among teenagers for a number of years, encouraged kids to try to swallow a tablespoon of cinnamon in under 60 seconds. This seemingly harmless prank has led to some severe results. Unfortunately, cinnamon quickly dries up mouth saliva, causes a choking response, and can lead pneumonia, asphyxiation, and even death. 

Matthew's mother wants his death to be a warning to teenagers of how dangerous ingesting cinnamon can be. I am honoring his memory by sharing this information here with you.

spices, spice drawer, cinnamon and baking spices

Natural does not always mean safe.  We can't possibly warn our kids of every potential danger that lurks, but pointing out the danger of The Cinnamon Challenge seems like a conversation well worth having.  

Have a safe and happy weekend.

Do or did you keep your spice drawer locked to prevent access by small children? 

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  1. I had no idea about the Cinnamon Challenge - thanks for sharing this important information Susan!

    1. I had never heard of it Lana, until I read the article about little Matthew's death.

  2. I suspect that injesting any of the dried spices could have similar, heart-breaking results. Nutmeg in quanitity is a hallucinogen too.
    Natural is definitely not always safe. Arsenic is natural. As are rattlesnakes...

  3. I have heard of this and it is certainly a good idea to keep your cinnamon hidden but it is also important to buy a brand that is not irradiated. Epicure is the only brand I trust

  4. It's gone the rounds up here as well, Susan. Really scary. You've reminded me of the time my then 14 year-old son snorted pepper on a dare the night before swim provincials. At the hotel. Really special listening to him blow his nose all night long. He'll NEVER do that again, let me tell you. Huge lesson.

    1. Snorting pepper would be so painful!! It is true that the teenage brain is not yet fully formed! And of course it was the night before you had to get up really early for a swim meet!

  5. I had no idea! My daughter also did that eat a bunch of crap and get sick to your stomach game when she was a kid at her friend's house. I've heard that cinnamon was good for a toothache, but I can't believe something so simple would be so dangerous. My babies will be up crawling and climbing soon enough so I will definitely keep in them put way up!

    1. I never heard of the toothache cure, but I have heard of ingesting ginger for a migraine ... after reading this I certainly won't be doing that in just its powder form! Can't believe they are almost at the crawling and climbing stage already!!


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