It is National Poison Prevention Week and it seem appropriate since I just received a call last week from an anxious mother whose toddler had gotten into some medication at their house. The child was fine but I reminded her that more than 2 million people each year, about half under the age of 6, ingest or come into contact with a poisonous substance. The majority of these incidents occur when parents or babysitters are present but are not paying attention at the time. As I remind parents, it is IMPOSSIBLE to watch your child, even with just one child, all of the time. So…it is necessary to take steps to try to prevent accidental poisonings.
The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, liquid nicotine, pesticides, gasoline and kerosene. I am always surprised to hear that a child will drink gasoline (YUCK right?) but toddlers do crazy things and put EVERYTHING in their mouths.
When “child-proofing” the house against so many dangers, try to keep as many poisonous products outs of a child’s reach and view as possible. Install safety latches on all cabinets that may contain any hazardous products …including laundry products and cleaning products. I would advise against using any detergent “pods” with children under the age of 6 and use powder or liquid instead. A safer product is worth a little bit of hassle!
Make sure that ALL medications, even vitamins are in containers with child safety caps (adults can’t open them but kids seem to?), but you must also keep them out of reach of children and I would recommend a cabinet that you can lock. There have been several occasions when a parent has left a pill out on a counter for another child to take and then suddenly the toddler has chewed it up…this has been most common with stimulant medications. Grandparents who are visiting also forget and leave their medications out and kids seem to find these as well.
Another common potential poison comes in the form of a button cell battery. These are common in remote controls, key fobs, greeting cards and even musical children’s books and not only pose a choking hazard but may cause tissue damage. If your child ingests a battery it is imperative that you seek immediate treatment at an emergency room.
If you are ever in doubt about the potential for poisoning call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222. They are experts in walking you through potential side effects, treatments and need for an ER visit! One of my patients just asked me if there is a limit to how many times you can call Poison Control…she seems to be a frequent flyer.