Poison Prevention in the Home

The most common emergency involving children is poisoning. In the U.S., about two million cases of exposure to poisons are reported each year. Children under five years of age are the most likely to get poisoned. They are curious and will eat and drink almost anything - even if it doesn't taste good. Poisons can occur in any room within the home. However most poisonings occur in the kitchen, bathroom, or in the bedroom and in the presence of parents or providers, when products are not in their usual storage area and are in direct reach of youngsters.

Poisonings can happen from many common items found in a household. Items that can be poisonous to a child include medicines (both prescription and non-prescription such as aspirin, cough and cold preparations, vitamins, iron), household cleaning products (such as furniture polishes, detergents, and drain cleaners), substances stored in the garage (such as car and gardening products), plants (such as castor beans, foxglove, and oleander), cosmetics, batteries, arts and crafts materials (such as glues, paints, and toxic pens), and lead-containing paints, dust and pottery.

It is also important to note that poisonings can occur by ingestion (eating or drinking), absorption (contact with skin, getting in the eyes), inhalation (breathing fumes), injection (puncture wounds), and animal and insect bites.

Poison Control Centers receive nearly 2 million calls each year. Almost 70% of poisonings can be treated at home if the Poison Control Center is called right away. In addition to having the telephone number to the Poison Control Center in your area, follow these guidelines to help prevent poisonings in your home:

Buy products with child-resistant caps and always tightly close caps after each use.
Keep medicine/cleaners out of sight, out of reach and in cabinets with locks or child-resistant latches.
Give young children constant supervision. This is especially important when visiting other households. Many poisonings happen when visiting households where only adults live.
Be careful when using medicines and cleaners. If the telephone or doorbell rings, close the cap and place it of reach before answering. Children can eat poison in seconds.
Keep products in their original containers with their labels securely in place. Children are used to believing that anything in a cup, glass, or soft drink bottle is safe to drink.
Clean out your cabinets on a regular basis. Discard medicines past their expiration date and/or medicines that have changed color, become cloudy, settled or hardened. Liquid medicines, pills and capsules should be flushed down the toilet. Rinse and discard containers. If you can't identify an item, throw it out.
Since children become more mobile as they grow, check regularly to make sure that potential poisons are still out of sight, out of reach and locked away.
Do not store toxic products where food is kept.
Promptly dispose products from do-it-yourself projects, including paint removers, gasoline and antifreeze.
Avoid taking medicine in front of children. Never refer to medicine as candy.