Poisoning is a serious threat to children, especially infants and toddlers. Each year in the United States, more than 100,000 children are accidentally poisoned. Poison prevention takes lots of thought and planning. But it is well worth the effort if you never have to make that call to Poison Control.
Hand to Mouth
Babies and young children are constantly putting things in their mouths. They will also eat things so foul-tasting that you or I would be rushing to the bathroom to cleanse our mouths. Children’s taste buds just are not discriminating enough to tell the difference.
The list of potentially poisonous items in the home is a long one:
- household cleaning products of all kinds, even some that say “environmentally friendly” on the label
- pesticides and fertilizers
- medicines, both prescription and non-prescription, including frequently used items such as aspirin, antacids or cold remedies
- vitamin and mineral tablets for adults or children, including iron pills
- household repair products, such as drain openers, grout and paint
- air fresheners
- automobile products, such as antifreeze and motor oil
- nicotine patches and other products for quitting smoking
- some common house and garden plants
- alcoholic beverages
How to Prevent Poisonings
- Keep anything that is potentially poisonous locked up and out of reach. Put them away immediately after use; don’t leave them sitting out “just for a minute.”
- As your children get old enough to open the childproof latches, teach them all about poisons and what to avoid. Develop a simple system for marking anything poisonous, so your child will learn what is hands-off.
- Buy all medications in those irksome, but life-saving childproof caps and always close them properly.
- Post the number of the nearest Poison Center by the phone.
- Keep a small bottle of syrup of ipecac on hand. This syrup induces vomiting. But not all poisonings should be treated with vomiting, so only use the syrup when instructed to do so by the Poison Center, your doctor or a hospital.
- Learn which plants can be poisonous. Try to buy houseplants that are not poisonous, but keep those plants, too, out of your child’s reach.
- Store household poisons in the containers they came in. Never store non-food items in food containers.
- When visiting friends or relatives, keep an eye out for toxic items that might be accessible to your child.
- When you have houseguests, make sure they don’t leave their medicines and cosmetics out in the open.