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Every year, millions of calls are made to Poison Control Centers and half involve children under the age of 5. These tips can help you protect your child from this preventable danger.   

Babies and toddlers are naturally curious. They love to explore their surroundings and can get into things that may be harmful.  We know that 90% of all poisonings occur at home when parents or caregivers are present but distracted. The most dangerous potential poisons are medicines, cleaning products, liquid nicotine, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene and lamp oil.

The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these recommendations to help prevent poisoning:

  • Store medicine, cleaning and laundry products, (including detergent packets/pods), paints/varnishes and pesticides in their original packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of the sight and reach of children. It is best to use traditional liquid or powder laundry and dishwasher detergents instead of detergent packets until all children who live in or visit your home are at least 6 years old. 
  • Use safety latches that automatically lock when you close a drawer or cabinet door.  Young kids are often eye-level with items under the kitchen and bathroom sinks.  There is always a chance the device will malfunction or the child will overcome it. The safest place to store poisonous products is somewhere a child can't see or reach.
  • Make sure that all medications, including vitamins and adult medicines, are stored out of reach and out of sight or children. Safely discard and unused, unneeded, or expired prescription drugs and over the counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements.
  • Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps. Note that safety caps are designed to be child resistant but are not fully child proof.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage.  Medication dosing mistakes are common. For liquid medicines, use the dosing device that came with the medicine. Never use a kitchen spoon.
  • If you use an e-cigarette, keep the liquid nicotine refills locked up out of children's reach and only buy refills that use child-resistant packaging. A small amount of liquid nicotine spilled on the skin or swallowed can be fatal to a child. 
  • Never store poisonous products in food or drink containers.
  • Keep natural gas-powered appliances, furnaces, and coal, wood or kerosene stoves in safe working order.
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Secure remote controls, key fobs, greeting cards, and musical children’s books. These and other devices may contain small button-cell batteries that can cause injury if swallowed.
  • Know the names of all plants in your home and yard. If you have young children or pets, consider removing those that are poisonous. 
  • Read product labels to find out what can be hazardous to kids. Dangerous household items include makeup, personal care products, plants, pesticides, lead, art supplies, alcohol and carbon monoxide.
  • Put the toll-free number Poison Help Number (1-800-222-1222) or your local poison control number into your home and cell phones. You should also post it near your phone or on your refrigerator for the babysitter.

Be especially careful when there is a change in routine. Holidays, visits to and from grandparents’ homes, and other special occasions may pose greater danger if usual protections are not in place.


Poison Treatment Tips

If your child is unconscious, not breathing, or having convulsions or seizures due to poison contact or ingestion, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately. If your child has come in contact with poison and has mild or no symptoms, call Poison Help at 1-800-222-1222.

Different types and methods of poisoning require different, immediate treatment.

  • Swallowed poison. Take the item away from the child, and have the child spit out any remaining substance. Do not make your child vomit. Do not use syrup of ipecac.
  • Swallowed battery. If your child has swallowed a button-cell battery or a battery is lodged in his or her nose, ear, or throat, seek treatment in a hospital emergency department immediately. Serious tissue damage can occur in as little as 2 hours.
  • Skin poison. Remove the child’s clothes and rinse the skin with lukewarm water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Eye poison. Flush the child’s eye by holding the eyelid open and pouring a steady stream of room temperature water into the inner corner for 15 minutes.
  • Poisonous fumes. Take the child outside or into fresh air immediately. If the child has stopped breathing, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and do not stop until the child breathes on his or her own, or until someone can take over.
  • Take an infant or child CPR class.  Hopefully you'll never need it, but it's nice to have just in case.
  • Check for lead-based paint. Remove any peeling paint or chewable surfaces painted with lead-based paint.

American Academy of Pediatrics:

Call (866) MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.

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Pediatric Care

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