Preventing Household Poisoning
If there are only two constants in life, the first is that everything changes, while the second is that children are unpredictable. Although we would like to believe that we can monitor children at all times and prevent them from confronting any and all danger, the truth is simply that children can encounter danger that adults neither foresaw nor warned them against. A type of danger that is very easy for many caretakers to overlook involves basic household products that are often toxic if ingested.
Household Poisoning Caused by Basic Products
Some of the common poisonous products that should be kept out of children’s reach are medicines, cleaning supplies, lead-based products, and makeup. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that poison control centers receive calls concerning potential child poisoning nearly every 13 seconds, and over 90% of toxic chemical exposure among children occurs in the home. Below are tips for parents, caregivers, babysitters, educators, and others in the community to help prevent kids from getting hurt, according to safety experts nationwide.
- Store all medications, whether they are vitamins or adult medications, out of reach and sight of children in a locked cabinet. Do not rely on child safety caps to keep children from accessing the medication. If a cap is put on a bottle incorrectly, a child could access potentially deadly substances.
- Mouthwash, which contains a high percentage of alcohol, and other liquids commonly stored in bathrooms like hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol, should also be kept out of sight and reach of children.
- Ensure that purses and other bags that could contain medicine are kept out of reach of children.
- Keep pills and liquids in their original containers.
- Be aware of all medicines in your home.
- Always supervise children, even older children, when they take any medication. Taking the wrong dosage could have dire consequences.
- Never put cleaning supplies in containers that were once used for food – young children may get the toxic substances confused for a tasty treat.
- Do not put insect powders or rodent poison on the floors of your home, and do not spray bug repellant or insecticides on furniture or mattresses.
- Keep laundry and dishwashing supplies – like colorful laundry and dishwasher pods – locked in a cabinet and out of children’s sight.
- Use safety latches for all cabinets containing hazardous substances.
- Keep gardening and automotive products locked in the storage shed or garage.
- Always supervise your children around cleaning supplies or household chemicals.
- Discard any cribs, bassinets, high chairs, painted toys, or toy chests made before 1978, as these products may have used lead-based paint.
- If you live in a home built before 1980, have the paint tested for lead.
- Remove any peeling paint from the outside or inside of your home.
- Regularly wash children’s toys and pacifiers.
- Warn your child about the dangers of eating paint chips – many children mistake paint chips for candy, and older paint chips may contain lead.
- Actively check for recalls of hazardous, unsafe, or dangerous products.
- Be sure to remove cosmetics, toiletries, perfume, hair dye, hairspray, nail polish, and nail polish remover from sight and reach of children.
It is a good idea for parents to program the phone number for the American Association of Poison Control Centers (1-800-222-1222) into your phone, as you never know when you may need to use it. Also, be sure to put your children’s pediatrician’s phone number into your phone. If your child collapses, stops breathing, has a seizure, or exhibits strange side effects, do not hesitate to call 911 immediately.
SafeKids – Poison Prevention Tips
KidsHealth – Household Safety: Preventing Poisoning