Most poisonings occur when parents are not paying close attention. While you are busy doing other things, your child may be exploring closets or under bathroom sinks, where dangerous household items are often stored. Children are at risk for poisoning because they like to put things into their mouths and taste them.
Remember to always keep a close eye on your child. Watch your child even more closely when you are away from home—especially at agrandparent's home, where medicines are often left out and within a child's reach.
Keep Dangerous Items Out of Reach
The best way to keep your child safe from poisoning is to lock up dangerous household items out of your child's reach, including:
- Medicines (especially those that contain iron)
- Cleaning products like dishwasher and laundry detergents, bleach, ammonia, and furniture polish
- Antifreeze, paint thinners, and windshield washer fluid
- Gasoline, kerosene, lamp oil
Always store medicines and household products in their original containers. Children can get confused if you put them in containers that were once used for food, especially empty drink bottles, cans, or cups. Also, many dangerous items look like food or drinks. For example, your child may mistake powdered dish soap for sugar or lemon liquid cleaner for lemonade.
How to Make your Home Poison-Safe
In the kitchen
- Store medicines, cleaners, lye, furniture polish, dishwasher soap, and other dangerous products in locked cabinets, out of sight and reach of children.
- If you must store items under the sink, use safety latches that lock every time you close the cabinet.
In the bathroom
- Keep all medicines in containers with safety caps. But remember, these caps are child resistant, not childproof, so store them in a locked cabinet.
- Get rid of leftover or expired medicines.
- Take medicines to your police department if they have a drug collection program.
- Check if your community has a household hazardous waster disposal program that takes medicines.
- Mix medicines with coffee grounds or kitty litter, seal tightly in a plastic bag or container, and discard where children cannot get them. Remember to remove labels with personal information from prescription medicines.
- Only flush medicines down the toilet or pour down the drain if the patient information materials say it's OK to do so.
- Store everyday items like toothpaste, soap, and shampoo in a different cabinet from dangerous products.
- Take medicine where children cannot watch you; they may try to copy you.
- Call medicine by its correct name. You don't want to confuse your child by calling it candy.
- Check the label every time you give medicine. This will help you to be sure you are giving the right medicine in the right amount to the right person. Mistakes are more common in the middle of the night, so always turn on a light when using any medicine.
In the garage and basement
- Keep paints, varnishes, thinners, pesticides, and fertilizers in a locked cabinet.
- Read labels on all household products before you buy them. Try to find the safest ones for the job. Buy only what you need to use right away.
- Open the garage door before starting your car to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Be sure that coal, wood, or kerosene stoves and appliances are in good working order. If you smell gas, turn off the stove or gas burner, leave the house, and call the gas company.
In the entire house
- 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 (or throw up) after they had swallowed a 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 giving him salt water. If you have syrup of ipecac in your home, throw it out.