Alcohol and kids at the BBQ

Another thing to be aware of when you are enjoying a family BBQ on a warm sunny day.


Young children like to imitate their parents.  So when they see their parents enjoying a drink, they want a drink as well.  As responsible adults, we make sure children get their drinks from the “children’s table” or some such place.  We all do that.


But has this ever happened with you or someone else? You’re sitting in the sun enjoying a drink when someone calls you away for a moment. Or maybe its time to get your burger. You’ll only be gone for a minute or two and your hands will be full when you come back, so you put your drink down.  Probably under you chair so it doesn’t get accidentally tipped over.

child with glass of wine

That drink can be quite a temptation to a little child who decides to be just like Mom or Dad.  And the first sip tastes good so it all goes down.


And then a few minutes later the trouble starts.  Alcohol is absorbed quickly into children’s bodies. It might take only 30 minutes until the effects appear – confusion, vomiting, flushed skin, slow breathing, decreased heart rate, drop in blood pressure, possible choking and worse.


It only takes a little alcohol to cause alcohol poisoning in a child. And the effects can be devastating!


We need to be very alert any time our children are around alcohol. And not just alcoholic beverages.  Alcohol is also found in some mouthwashes, facial cleansers, after-shave, cosmetics, hand sanitizers and numerous cleansing products.  Lists of ingredients containing substances ending in –ol almost certainly contain alcohol. Always keep these in locked cupboards or on high shelves that kids can’t get to.


There are many studies discussing the harmful effects of alcohol on children of all ages.  It’s easy to find by googling terms such as “alcohol effect on children”.  If you are looking for academic studies, add “site:edu” to your search and your search will be limited to academic sites.


In British Columbia, call 1-800-567-8911 in an emergency.  This will put you in touch with the Drug and Poison Information Centre.  Hopefully none of us will ever need it, but keep that number handy just in case.



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