Poison Prevention Week

Poison This week is National Poison Prevention Week.   Poisoning is one of the leading causes of death and injury for children and it’s important to keep some facts in mind:

Hazard: Toiletries and Drugs

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the leading cause of children’s deaths from poisoning is vitamin pills with iron.  Children can die from swallowing as few as five of these pills.  Common toiletry items such as perfume, mouthwash and antibacterial gel are equally dangerous.  All contain alcohol and, if ingested by a child, can lead to seizures, coma or death. 

Other potential poisons include:

  • Mouthwash
  • Decongestants
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover
  • Perfume
  • Hairspray
  • Diet pill stimulants
  • Prescription medications

Safety Solution – Be sure to store all medications and toiletries in their original containers and check that child resistant caps are put on properly immediately after use.  Keep all of these items in locked cabinets! Parents usually don’t consider placing child safety locks on their bathroom cabinets but this is as important as securing the kitchen cabinets.  Storing these items in high cabinets is not sufficient as children will climb up to reach them.  Remember that caps on medication and toiletries are only child resistant not child proof!

Hazard: Cleaners and Insecticides

While many people recognize that ingesting household cleaning products can be toxic, they don’t necessarily recognize that poisons can be delivered in many ways.  The chemicals in bug sprays and insecticides can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled and affect the nervous system, making it difficult to breathe.  A toxic gas is created when bleach is mixed with ammonia.  One of the leading causes of poisoning deaths in children are hydrocarbons which are found in furniture polish, paint thinner, gasoline and kerosene.  And common cleaners such as toilet bowl cleaner and oven cleaner can cause serious chemical burns.

Safety Solution – Cleaning products should never be stored in the house.  Rather, keep them in a locked cabinet in the garage where it is more difficult for children to access.  Be sure all cleaning items are kept in their original containers so that in the event of a poisoning all pertinent information is available.  Additionally, if these items are stored in other containers, such as empty bottles or jars, children might not recognize that they are toxic products.

Always be prepared..   No matter how careful you are, accidental poisoning can still occur and it is important to be prepared.  If your child seems sleepy, is unable to focus, has burn marks around his mouth or you detect a strange smell on his breath call the National Poison Control Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.  When you call, have the item with you as you will be asked to describe the product and it’s contents.

Have you had a poisoning incident with your child?  Share your story here.

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