Aug 16, 2017, 10:46:05 AM CDT Feb 22, 2023, 4:15:49 PM CST

A safe home: poison prevention

How to protect your children from household poisons and what to do if you suspect your child has been poisoned.

Baby with child proofed cabinet Baby with child proofed cabinet

Poison is anything that children can swallow, inhale, touch or get in their eyes that can cause illness or death. Even products that are safe in small doses can be poisonous to a child who consumes too much. Because almost 90% of childhood poisonings happen in the home, it's important for parents to know where the dangers are. At Children’s Health℠, we are committed to your child’s safety. Our Injury Prevention Specialists are available to help keep any potentially dangerous items in your home away from your child—and keep your child out of the hospital.

Common Household Poisons

Children are curious by nature. Lots of household products come in brightly colored packaging that a child may not be able to discern from candy or other treats. Some of the most common poisonings in children occur with items you wouldn't normally think twice about. The most frequent causes of non-pharmaceutical poisonings in children include those involving:

  • Alcohol
  • Art supplies, such as paints and paint thinner
  • Cleaning supplies, including laundry detergents, oven and toilet bowl cleaners and furniture polish
  • Cosmetics, especially nail polishes and perfumes
  • Deodorant and soap
  • Mouthwash
  • Pesticides
  • Plants (both household and outdoor)

A Special Word About Medications

Medications account for a full 40% of poisonings in kids age 5 and under. All other causes combined make up the other 60%. In fact, every eight minutes in the U.S. a child ends up in the emergency room due to a medicine-related poisoning. Three-quarters of those drugs belong to either the child's parents or grandparents. Often, people keep medications in places where kids can easily reach them, such as in a purse or on a nightstand. Even small amounts of over-the-counter drugs can be lethal to young children.

Protecting Children from Poisons

  • Know where the dangerous products in your home are. Keep even things like mouthwash out of inquisitive children's reach. If possible, buy items with child-resistant packaging and store all products in their original containers.
  • Keep purses and handbags away from kids. Use childproof bottles for all medications and make sure grandparents, babysitters and houseguests all do the same. Never refer to medicines (including vitamins) as "candy." Also, don't take medication in front of your kids—they may try to mimic you without being aware of the dangers.
  • Never leave household cleaners or other dangerous chemicals unattended while using them. Use cabinet locks when storing potentially dangerous products.
  • Keep personal products including hair sprays, nail polish and shampoos out of reach.
  • Install carbon monoxide monitors near children's bedrooms.

What to do if you think your child has been poisoned

If you believe your child has been poisoned, call the Nationwide Poison Control Center number at (800) 222-1222 immediately. Don't wait for your child to look or act sick. Nurses, pharmacists and toxicologists are available to quickly answer your questions and tell you what to do.

Program that number, as well as all other local emergency numbers, in your phone. Keep a list of emergency numbers on the refrigerator so babysitters have access to it as well. If you have any other questions, call our Children’s Health Injury Prevention Specialists.

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