Poison Prevention Measures You Can Take to Make Your Home Safer
COMPILED BY OLYA FESSARD MARCH 2019
Just because you have a child who is old enough to know better doesn’t mean they are safe from poisoning. Whether it’s curiosity, a dare from a peer, or negative influences from crazy internet posts, don’t let this situation ever happen to you. Follow these prevention tips:
Store all medicines—prescription and nonprescription—out of sight and out of reach of children, preferably in a locked cabinet. Even items that seem harmless, such as mouthwash, can be extremely dangerous if ingested in large quantities by children. Just because cabinets are up high doesn’t mean kids can’t get their hands on what’s in them. They’ll climb up (using the toilet and countertops) to get to items in the medicine cabinet.
Make sure purses and bags—yours and your guests’—that could contain poisonous items (such as medicine) are kept out of the reach of kids at all times.
Always keep pills and liquids in their original containers.
Try to keep a record of how many pills are left in their prescription containers.
Be aware of all medicines in your home (and in those of relatives if your kids spend a lot of time there).
Don’t rely on packaging to protect your kids. Child-resistant packaging does not mean childproof packaging.
Never prepare or give medicine to a child in the dark: You may give the wrong dosage or even the wrong medicine.
Never leave vitamin bottles, aspirin bottles, or other medicine on kitchen tables, countertops, bedside tables, or dresser tops. Kids may decide to try to copy adults and help themselves.
Never tell a child that medicine tastes like candy.
All medicines, even those intended for children, can be dangerous if accidentally taken by others, even in small amounts. If your older child or teen manages his or her own medicines, make sure they know and follow the family rules on safely storing the medicine. And always supervise them and make sure they’re taking the proper doses.
Never put cleaning products in old soda bottles or containers that were once used for food.
Never put roach powders or rat poison on the floors. Do not use insect sprays on furniture or mattresses.
Keep laundry supplies out of sight and in a locked cabinet. Laundry and dishwasher detergent pods are more dangerous than other detergent types. If you have children under six years old, consider using traditional detergent rather than pods.
Store household cleaning products and aerosol sprays in a high cabinet far from reach.
Don’t keep any cleaning supplies, including dishwasher powder, liquid, or pods, under the sink or in an unlocked cabinet.
Use safety latches for all cabinets containing hazardous substances.
Keep hazardous automotive and gardening products out of reach in a securely locked area (ideally, in your garage, if you have one). Make sure they’re stored at the right temperature according to package instructions.
When you’re cleaning or using household chemicals, never leave the bottles or buckets unattended if there’s a small child present.
Don’t leave alcoholic drinks where kids can reach them. Take special care during parties—guests may not be mindful of where they’ve left their drinks. Remove all beverages immediately after the party and clean up thoroughly.
Keep bottles of alcohol in a locked cabinet far from kids’ reach.
Keep mouthwash out of the reach of kids, as many brands contain substantial amounts of alcohol.
Food extracts, such as vanilla and almond, may contain alcohol and can be harmful to kids.
Always dump out partially drunk containers of energy drinks or highly caffeinated beverages. Keep them stored away just as you would alcohol.
Don’t use cribs, bassinets, high chairs, painted toys, or toy chests made before 1978; these may have a finish that contains lead.
If you have an older home, have the paint tested for lead. For more information, call the National Lead Information Center: 800-424-5323.
Keep up on toy recalls due to the use of lead paint—you can receive notifications from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Keep kids away from houseplants and plants around your yard that can be poisonous. Either put indoor plants out of reach or buy only plants that are non-poisonous. Carefully watch children when outside near poisonous plants.
Know the name of all your plants, both indoors and outdoors. Label each of your plants with the correct botanical name. Mushrooms and berries are particularly attractive to young children. Mushrooms are especially abundant after a rainfall, so remove them from your yard and dispose of them properly. Do not assume a plant is non-poisonous because birds or wildlife eat it.
Teach your kids never to put mushrooms, berries, or any plant including leaves, flowers, stems, bulbs, or seeds in their mouths. The following are very dangerous if ingested:
•Gloriosa (climbing lily)
•Laurel (English and cherry)
•Lily of the valley
•Morning glory (seeds)
•Potato plant (green parts)
Never leave cosmetics and toiletries within easy reach of children. Be especially cautious with perfume, hair dye, hairspray, nail and shoe polish, and nail polish remover.
Discard used button cell batteries (like those in watches) safely, and store any unused ones far from kids’ reach (alkaline substances are poisonous).
FIRST AID TIPS FROM POISON CONTROL
If the individual collapses, has a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, call 911.
Before you seek help from Poison Control, whether by phone or online, there are some quick first aid measures that make a difference if accomplished within seconds to minutes of the poison exposure:
Swallowed poisons: If the product swallowed is burning, irritating, or caustic AND the person is conscious, not having convulsions, and able to swallow, drink a small amount of water or milk immediately. Then get help from Poison Control: Use poison.org for specific recommendations for your case online or call 1-800-222-1222.
Don’t use IPECAC. While research showed it does cause vomiting, it also shows that it doesn’t make a difference.
If you’re expecting a baby or you already have a child, it’s wise to:
1) Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the abdominal thrust procedure (the Heimlich maneuver).
2) Keep these numbers near the phone (for yourself and caregivers):
-poison control: 800-222-1222
-your child’s doctor’s number
-parents’ work and cell numbers
-neighbor’s or nearby relative’s
number (if you need someone
to watch other kids in an
Make a first-aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside. #
Poison Control Center
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.