Each year, more than 2 million poisonings are reported to poison control centers across the country. More than 90 percent of these happen at home, and most non-fatal poisonings occur in children younger than 6.
Unfortunately, many common substances around the house can be poisonous, and it’s all too easy for curious youngsters to ingest them if they are kept within reach. Dangers include medicines, cleaning products, laundry, and dishwasher pods, mouthwash, gasoline and auto fluids, and pesticides, including flea prevention, weed killers, and insect and rodent baits.
This week is a good time for parents and caregivers to inspect their homes, garages, and yards. Take these 3 steps to safeguard your home:
Survey for Safe Storage
- Examine your home from a child’s point of view, crawling around if you have small children.
- Store household products in their original containers out of sight in a high cabinet. Install safety latches on lower cabinets, if items cannot be moved.
- Never store poisonous items near food or put them in containers that could be mistaken for food or drink.
- Don’t leave products out after using them; if you are distracted while cleaning or taking medicine, be sure to properly close caps and put products out of reach.
- Ask guests to keep purses, bags, and coats that may contain medicines or poisonous products out of reach.
- Remove poisonous plants from the home and yard.
Be Mindful About Medicine
- Never call medicine “candy.”
- Buy medicines in child-resistant containers, but remember — these may only delay the time it takes your child to open the bottle, not prevent them from opening it.
- Keep all medicines in their original bottles.
- Dispose of unused or expired medicines.
- Teach your children to always ask before eating, drinking or touching anything.
- Post the Poison Control Centers’ national hotline number, 800.222.1222, by your home telephone and save it in your cell phone. The hotline is staffed 24/7, year round. If the victim is awake and alert, call the hotline.
- If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911.