More than 90 percent of accidental poisonings occur in the home – and most involve children younger than age 6. Since children have faster metabolisms than adults, anything they ingest is absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly.
The majority of poison exposures for young children involve non-pharmaceutical products such as cosmetics or cleansers, although nearly half of all poisonings in youngsters are caused by medicines.
To keep your children safe from household poisons, consider these tips:
(1) Never give a child a medicine intended for adults unless the label indicates the appropriate dose for children or a doctor instructs you to do so. And don’t refer to medicine or vitamins as candy.
(2) Give the right dose of medicine to your child. Use any included dropper or cup to measure the right amount so you don’t risk overdosing. Kitchen spoons are not accurate. Never try to give medicine to your child in the dark.
(3) Use safety latches for all cabinets that contain hazardous substances. This includes makeup, medicine, plants, cleaning products, automotive products, pesticides, art supplies, and beer, wine and liquor.
(4) Choose medicines and products with child-resistant caps. Child-resistant does not necessarily mean childproof, so never leave kids alone with a container of something you wouldn’t want them to ingest. A child can be poisoned in a matter of seconds.
(5) If your home was built before 1978, test for lead-based paint and get your child tested for lead exposure. Children inhale the dust of lead-based paint and can build up enough lead in their blood to affect intelligence, growth and development.
(6) Install a carbon monoxide alarm outside every sleeping area and on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas that builds up around fuel-burning appliances and cars in garages. It can make a child seriously ill in concentrations that would barely affect an adult.
(7) Post the National Poison Control Center phone number (1-800-222-1222) near every phone in your home. This number connects you to your local poison control center from anywhere in the United States. Also program it into your cell phone, along with emergency numbers for your pharmacist and pediatrician.
Safe and Sound, an injury prevention service of Children’s Hospital at Erlanger and an affiliate from Safe Kids Worldwide, provides classes and events on topics such car seat safety, bicycle, toy safety and more. For more information, call 423.778.6691 or visit www.erlanger.org/safeandsound.