Every day, over 300 children in the United States from birth to 19 are treated in an emergency department as a result of being poisoned. Learn how to store harmful substances carefully and out of reach.
Active, curious children will often investigate — and sometimes try to eat or drink—anything they can get into, whether it’s safe or not. And it’s not just chemicals in your home marked with clear warning labels that can be dangerous. Everyday items, such as household cleaners and medicines, can be poisonous as well.
In addition, medication-dosing mistakes and unsupervised ingestions are also common ways that children are poisoned.
Remember to always keep a close eye on your child. Watch your child even more closely when you are away from home — especially at a grandparent’s home, where medicines are often left out and within a child’s reach.
Safety latches that automatically lock when you close a cabinet door can help keep children away from dangerous products, but there is always a chance the device will malfunction or the child will defeat it. The safest place to store poisonous products is somewhere a child can’t reach or see.
Store medicine, cleaning and laundry products (including detergent packets), paints/varnishes and pesticides in their original packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of children.
Additional home safety tips include:
- Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
- Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage. For liquid medicines, use the dosing device that came with the medicine; never use a kitchen spoon.
- If you use an e-cigarette, keep the liquid nicotine refills locked and out of reach and only buy refills that use child resistant packaging. Ingestion or skin exposure with just a small amount of the liquid can be fatal to a child.
- Never place poisonous products in food or drink containers.
- Keep natural-gas-powered appliances, furnaces, and coal, wood or kerosene stoves in safe working order.
- Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Know the names of all plants in your home and yard. If you have young children or pets, consider removing those that are poisonous.
- Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Contact your local fire department for information on how many you need and where to install them.
Important Information about Syrup of Ipecac:
Syrup of ipecac is a drug that was used in the past to make children vomit after they had swallowed poison. Although this may seem to make sense, this is not a good poison treatment. You should not make a child vomit in any way, including giving him syrup of ipecac, making him gag or by giving him salt water. If you have syrup of ipecac in your home, throw it out.
Know the Number
Put the nationwide poison control center phone number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every telephone in your home and program it into your cell phone. Call the poison control center if you think a child has been poisoned but they are awake and alert; they can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and your child has collapsed or is not breathing.