Courtesy of Cy-Fair Hospital
Diaper rash ointment, pain medicines, and perfume probably do not come to mind as serious health hazards, but they are among the most common poisons ingested by children. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional poisoning causes more than 700,000 emergency department visits annually,” says Allison Arthur, M.D., a pediatrician on staff at Cypress Fairbanks Medical Center Hospital. “Poisoning can happen when it is least expected, but you can take steps to provide a safe home environment for your child.”
Potential Household Poisons
Along with the products listed above, other common poisons children may encounter include:
■Nail polish and cosmetics
■Cleaning products, such as laundry detergent and bleach
■Over-the-counter cold relievers
■Mercury from thermometers
■Topical preparations and lotions, including acne cream, calamine lotion, and hydrogen peroxide
“These items can be found in almost every home,” says Dr. Arthur. “Proper labeling and storage of these items should be a priority to prevent an accidental poisoning.”
Child-Proof Your Home
Poison prevention begins with being aware of possible hazards around the house and taking the necessary precautions:
■Keep all poisonous substances out of the reach of children. Store these products in high cabinets or those that lock with a key. “Many small children can easily figure out how to unlock child-safety locks,” explains Dr. Arthur.
■Do not put poisonous products in food or drink containers. Store them in the original containers, and make sure they are correctly labeled.
■Do not mix household products together. Combining ammonia and bleach, for example, can produce toxic gases.
■Purchase items that have child-resistant packaging, such as medicine bottles with safety caps.
■Do not refer to medicine or vitamins as “candy,” or any term that may make it seem like a treat or a snack, when you’re around children.
■Store food and cleaners in separate cabinets or rooms.
■Wear protective clothing, such as gloves, long sleeves, and shoes, when spraying pesticides or other chemicals. Put these products away immediately after use.
■Open the window and turn on the fan when using chemical products inside.
■Have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home.
Despite your best efforts, poisonings can occur. In these situations, remain calm and call 911 or Poison Control.
About Poison Control
Poison Control is a free public service that has toxicologists available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you think your child has ingested a potentially dangerous substance or overdosed on a medication, call Poison Control at 800-222-1222 to get immediate advice. Program this number into your cell phone or post it by your home phone for easy access in the event of an emergency.