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Poison Prevention

Post the Poison Help number 1-800-222-1222 on the emergency list next to every phone in your home and in your cell phone.

A toddler or preschooler who vomits may have eaten or drunk something poisonous. If you suspect poisoning because of a telltale odor, unexplained stains on clothing, burns or stains around the mouth, or an open or empty container of a toxic substance, call Poison Help immediately.

More than a million American children younger than 6 years suffer poisoning every year. Household cleaners, personal care products, and over-the-counter medications lead the list of poisons.

Healthy preschoolers are mobile and curious enough to sample even foul-tasting substances. To complicate matters, many caustic products such as drain cleaners, which can cause devastating injuries, have no taste. A child may ingest a large amount before he stops because of a burning sensation. Vitamin pills, iron and other mineral supplements, and aspirin, while generally safe for adults, can cause serious or even life-threatening reactions in a child’s small body.

  • Store drugs and medications in a medicine cabinet that is locked or out of reach. Do not keep toothpaste, soap, or shampoo in the same cabinet. If you carry a purse, keep potential poisons out of your purse and keep your child away from other people’s purses.
  • Buy and keep medications in their own containers with child safety caps. Put the cap on completely after each use. Child resistant does not mean childproof, only that it takes longer for your child to get into it. Being alert and aware is extremely important.
  • Do not take medicine in front of small children; they may try to imitate you later. Never tell a child that a medicine is candy.
  • Store hazardous products in locked cabinets that are out of your child’s reach. Do not keep detergents and other cleaning products under the kitchen or bathroom sink, unless they are in a cabinet with a safety latch that locks every time you close the cabinet.
    • Never put poisonous or toxic products in containers that were once used for food, especially empty drink bottles, cans, or cups.
    • Empty and rinse all glasses immediately after gatherings where alcohol is served. Keep alcohol in a locked cabinet.
Last Updated
Nutrition: What Every Parent Needs to Know (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2011)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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