Child Safety: Poisoning

A poison is anything that you eat, breathe or touch that could cause illness or death. In the United States a child is poisoned every 30 seconds and 60% of those children are under the age 6 who are curious by nature and attracted to colorful materials and packages. Most accidents involving poisons occur in the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. One of the leading causes of death is the ingestion of both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Household cleaners are high on causing fatalities and carbon monoxide from cars left running or faulty gas heaters is also often fatal. Plants and cosmetics are commonly involved in poisonings.

Prevention “Poison-proof” your house. Tour your home and determine which substances might be poisonous. Then carefully lock those away. Do not transfer potentially poisonous materials to unlabeled containers or food containers such as milk bottles. Instruct the older children in the family as to the dangers of swallowing unknown or non-food substances. It is not uncommon for them to feed poisonous substances to their younger brothers and sisters in “playing doctor” or “playing house” games. Be sure your babysitter is made aware of potential problems and where the phone number to the poison control center is located [it should be on every phone]. Store food and household chemicals in separate areas. Most poisonings occur when the product is in use, so take the young child with you to answer the phone or doorbell. Many poisonings occur when your daily routine is interrupted and at meal times. Be extra cautious during these times. Keep all medicines out of sight and out of reach. Do not call medicine candy. Consider vitamins as medicine since vitamins with iron are especially poisonous. Many household plants are poisonous. Call your local poison control center and request a list of poisonous and non-poisonous plants.

First Aid If poisoning does occur, do not excite the youngster, for you will need his/her cooperation. Remain calm! Call the poison control center. The local number can be found on the inside cover of the white pages phone book and should be kept at each phone. They are open 24 hrs. a day, 365 days a year, and there is no charge for their professional emergency advice. If possible have the following information available for the poison control specialist:

 Child’s condition, age and weight

 Name of product and/or ingredients

 How much of the product was taken

 Time poisoning occurred

 And your name and phone number.

The poison control center will tell you what to do next. You can get additional information on poison prevention that can save a life as well as a checklist for a poison-proof home at