Each year, approximately 2.4 million people – more than half under age 6 – swallow or have contact with a poisonous substance.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has some important tips.
To poison proof your home:
Most poisonings occur when parents or caregivers are home but not paying attention. The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil. Be especially vigilant when there is a change in routine. Holidays, visits to and from grandparents’ homes, and other special events may bring greater risk of poisoning if the usual safeguards are defeated or not in place.
• Store medicine, cleaners, paints/varnishes and pesticides in their original
packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of children.
• Install a safety latch – that locks when you close the door – on child-accessible
cabinets containing harmful products.
• Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps. Discard unused medication.
• Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
• Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage.
• Never place poisonous products in food or drink containers.
• Keep coal, wood or kerosene stoves in safe working order.
• Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
If your child is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizures due to poison contact or ingestion, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. If your child has come in contact with poison, and has mild or no symptoms, call your poison control center.
Different types and methods of poisoning require different, immediate treatment:
• Swallowed poison – Remove the item from the child, and have the child spit out
any remaining substance. Do not make your child vomit. Do not use syrup of ipecac.
• Skin poison — Remove the child’s clothes and rinse the skin with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes.
• Eye poison — Flush the child’s eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room temperature water into the inner corner.
• Poisonous fumes – Take the child outside or into fresh air immediately. If the child has stopped breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do not stop until the child breathes on his or her own, or until someone can take over.
The Most Dangerous Poisons for Children:
The most dangerous poisons for children include the following. Be sure to check the poison prevention tips to protect your loved ones.
Medicines: these are OK in the right amount for the right person. They can be dangerous for children who take the wrong medicine or swallow too much.
Iron pills: adult-strength iron pills are very dangerous for children to swallow. Children can start throwing up blood or having bloody diarrhea in less than an hour.
Cleaning products that cause chemical burns: these can be just as bad as burns from fire. Products that cause chemical burns include include drain openers, toilet bowl cleaners, rust removers, and oven cleaners.
Nail glue remover and nail primer: some products used for artificial nails can be poisonous in surprising ways. Some nail glue removers have caused cyanide poisoning when swallowed by children. Some nail primers have caused burns to the skin and mouth of children who tried to drink them.
Hydrocarbons: this is a broad category that includes gasoline, kerosene, lamp oil, motor oil, lighter fluid, furniture polish, and paint thinner. These liquids are easy to choke on if someone tries to swallow them. If that happens, they can go down the wrong way, into the lungs instead of the stomach. If they get into someone’s lungs, they make it hard to breathe. They can also cause lung inflammation (like pneumonia). Hydrocarbons are among the leading causes of poisoning death in children.
Pesticides: chemicals to kill bugs and other pests must be used carefully to keep from harming humans. Many pesticides can be absorbed through skin. Many can also enter the body by breathing in the fumes. Some can affect the nervous system and can make it hard to breathe.
Windshield washer solution and antifreeze: Small amounts of these liquids are poisonous to humans and pets. Windshield washer solution can cause blindness and death if swallowed. Antifreeze can cause kidney failure and death if swallowed.
Wild mushrooms: many types of mushrooms grow in many areas of the country. Some are deadly to eat. Only experts in mushroom identification can tell the difference between poisonous mushrooms and safe mushrooms.
Alcohol: when children swallow alcohol, they can have seizures, go into a coma, or even die. This is true no matter where the alcohol comes from. Mouthwash, facial cleaners, and hair tonics can have as much alcohol in them as alcoholic beverages.
The Yukkiest Poisons
These are especially hazardous household items. Buy small quantities. Discard unneeded extras. Make sure they are always out of a child’s reach.
toilet bowl cleaners
artificial nail removers
topical anesthetics (i.e. Products that may be used for sunburn pain)
medicines, medicines, medicines.
Did you know that even these common household items can poison little children?
automatic dishwasher detergents
perfume & aftershave
gasoline, kerosene, and lamp oil
paint and paint thinner
cigarettes, tobacco products
rat and mouse poison