Children Act Fast…So Do Poisons

Creepy title, I know. But, it’s National Poison Prevention Week, Moms and Dads, and this is the morbid motto for the 2011 campaign.

Here are the sobering stats: Every year, 2.4 million people—over half under SIX years of age—swallow or come in contact with a poisonous substance.

I know, I know, this would never happen on your watch. Unfortunately, most of these accidents happen when a child is at home and the supervising adult is distracted. So, what can you do to prevent one of these potentially deadly situations?

Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Store medicine, cleaners, paints/varnishes and pesticides in their original packaging in locked cabinets or containers, out of sight and reach of children.
  • Install a safety latch – that locks when you close the door – on child-accessible cabinets containing harmful products.
  • Purchase and keep all medicines in containers with safety caps. Discard unused medication.
  • Never refer to medicine as “candy” or another appealing name.
  • Check the label each time you give a child medicine to ensure proper dosage.
  • Never place poisonous products in food or drink containers.
  • Keep coal, wood or kerosene stoves in safe working order.
  • Maintain working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Be sure to have Poison Control on speed dial. The number is 800-222-1222. Obviously, if your child has swallowed a poison and is unconscious, having a seizure, not breathing, or is lethargic or unresponsive, the phone number to call is 911. (And start CPR until EMS arrives if your child is not breathing!) But, if your child is not having any symptoms or is not showing signs of immediate distress, Poison Control gives great advice for the next steps.

Here is some practical advice for first aid in the most common poisoning situations.

  • We no longer recommend making your child vomit by using syrup of ipecac. If your child has swallowed a poison and he is able to spit it out, go for it.
  • If a poison has touched your child’s skin, remove your child’s clothing and rinse your child off with lukewarm water for 15 minutes.
  • If a poison enters your child’s eyes, flush her eyes with room temperature water towards the inner part of the eyes for 15 minutes (yes, that is probably very difficult to do with a young child). Do not stick your child’s head under the faucet to do the rinsing. And, don’t let your child rub her eyes.
  • If your child inhales poisonous fumes, take him outside to let him breathe fresh air.

For more tips on home safety, check out