By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.
Each year, accidental poisonings from medicines and household chemicals kill about 30 children. Young children are known for exploring avidly with their mouths. They don't know the difference between what is good for them or bad, leaving the parent or caregiver the dutiful task of keeping the house safe and secure.
The most common causes of poisoning in young children are: drugs, medicines, cleaning supplies, plants, cosmetics, pesticides, paints and solvents. Overdose of medicines such as multivitamins containing iron are one of the most common causes of poisoning in children under age 5.
Following are some suggestions to prevent poisoning in children:
- Label all poisonous containers and keep them locked away in childproof cabinets or containers.
- Make sure that you lock the containers holding toxic materials after you are done using them. Properly secure the child-resistant packaging, and put it away immediately in a place where children can't reach it.
- Keep drugs, medicines, cleaning products, and cosmetics locked up and out of reach.
- Keep medicines in their original containers and do not throw away the label and instruction booklet.
- Avoid accidental overdose of medicines by properly following the dosage instructions.
- Do not keep medicines on countertops, table tops or bedside tables.
- Indoor and outdoor poisonous plants can be dangerous for children. Ensure that the plants in the house and in the garden are harmless.
- Alcohol can cause drunkenness as well as serious poisoning leading to seizures, coma, and even death in young children. Be careful of products containing alcohol such as cologne, mouthwash and so on.
- Keep the poison center phone number in clear view near every phone. Be sure your babysitter, child care provider or anyone in charge of your child knows how and when to call the poison center.
Following are some suggestions that can help if you think that your child has been poisoned:
- If you think your child has ingested a toxic substance, get whatever may still be in their mouth out, and keep whatever evidence you find of what the substance might be.
- If your child is having trouble breathing or looks sleepy or lethargic call 911. If your child does not have symptoms, call your local poison center.
- If your child gets a toxic chemical on their skin, remove their clothes, rinse well with lukewarm water and call the poison center.
- If your child gets poison in their eye, flush their eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of lukewarm water into the inside corner of the eye for 15 minutes, and then call the poison center for more instructions.
- Do not force the child to vomit unless told to do so by a professional. Some poisons can burn the inside linings of the stomach, throat and mouth and will do more damage if you try to induce vomiting. Keep on hand a bottle of "syrup of ipecac" but use it only if the poison center instructs you to induce vomiting.
Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center, http://www.startingadaycarecenter.com.