A Few Pounds of Poison Prevention

Parents have been overdosing me with questions about accidental poisonings and what can be done to prevent their child from eating or drinking something they shouldn't. Since March is National Poison Prevention Month, I thought I'd get into  some poison prevention strategies so your child doesn't get into some dangerous household substances.   

More than two million poisonings occur each year. Ninety percent of them happen in the home and more than half the children involved are less than six years of age. While no parent ever intends to give their child something that will make them sick, accidents can and do occur - often right before your eyes. Many poisonous household items are often within their reach, including household cleaners, personal care products or over-the-counter medications.

Step one is to store drugs and medication in a medicine cabinet that is locked and out of reach. In fact even common bathroom products such as toothpaste or shampoo should be locked up, and any medicines in your purse should also be kept off limits or away from small children who are always curious to see what is inside a handbag.

All medications should have child safety caps, even if they are adult medications. Even "child resistant" does not mean child proof - only that it will take your child longer to get into it and by that time you may discover your child trying to open the pill container or medicine bottle.

Don't take medicine in front of your child or say it is like taking candy or your child is apt to imitate you - with undesirable outcomes.

Store hazardous detergents and cleaning products in locked cabinets or where they are also out of your child's reach. That means they should not go under the kitchen or bathroom sink unless these storage areas are locked with a safety latch.

Never put hazardous products in food or beverage containers, especially empty drinking bottles, cans or cups that your child might mistake as being something they might like to eat or drink. Always empty out any glasses after parties or gatherings where alcohol is served, and always lock away your alcoholic beverages in a cabinet.

If you find your child starts to vomit suddenly, has trouble breathing, or is not as alert as they normally are, they may have swallowed a poison. You can get help by calling your child's doctor or the Northern New England Regional Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. They will instruct you on what to do next.

Hopefully tips like these will be easy ones to ingest when it comes to doing all you can to protect your child from an accidental poisoning.