Our homes may be our sanctuaries, but they also are where 90 percent of accidental poisonings occur. Houses are not poison-proofed, and people make mistakes. The bathroom and kitchen are typically the most dangerous rooms in the house. Think about the items you keep under your kitchen sink: dishwasher detergent, bleach, cleaning fluids, oven cleaner, maybe even bug spray and drain cleaner.Now think about the items in your bathroom: mouthwash, hair-care products, contact lens solution and bathtub and toilet bowl cleaners. Children can be fooled into swallowing these products because they may smell like things that are good to eat, such as mint or lemon. That’s why it is so critical to store these safely out of the reach of children. A young child who ingests one of those products could become seriously ill—or worse. But there’s another potential poisoning hazard you may not be aware of: medications. “Leaving bottles of pills on your nightstand or sitting out on the kitchen counter is a big no-no” says Karen Woolf, MD, medical director of the emergency department at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children. “To a child, pills can look like candy, and that makes them very tempting.”Never assume that childproof caps are sufficient to deter curious youngsters.
Dr. Woolf shares a few tips on what you can do to help keep your kids safe at home.
Poison-proof your home
- Move possibly poisonous products, including medicines, to high shelves. If you can’t move them, install latches or locks on cabinet doors or drawers where you store these items.
- Lock the liquor cabinet.
- Keep everything in original containers, with lids tightly closed at all times.
Avoid garage and basement hazards
The garage often contains some of the most poisonous household products, like lighter fluid, gasoline, antifreeze and turpentine. Store these in a locked box. Every time you use something from the box, close it and lock it, and be very conscientious about it. Always store dangerous substances in their original containers. If you pour antifreeze into an old plastic bottle, its bright green color eerily resembles a tasty sports beverage, and a child might want to drink it. To further reduce poisoning risks outdoors and in storage areas, make these practices part of your routine:
- Clean up spills and leaks immediately so pets don’t inadvertently lap up something toxic.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions on pesticides, solvents and adhesives to avoid exposure to potentially toxic fumes.
- Lock up spray paints, since risk-taking tweens and teens may inhale them to get high.
Keep the American Poison Control number in your phone and posted visibly at home: (800) 222-1222.
We’re Here for You
Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children’s ER team is here for you and your family 24/7, 365 days a year. Our dedicated children’s emergency room is staffed with board-certified pediatric specialists specially trained in emergency treatment. We provide full-service care when your child has a medical emergency, injury or ailment. Click for more information about emergency care at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children.If your child is experiencing a medical emergency, always call 911.